Historic Camden

Tuesdays have been adventure days for Tom and me as we explore the area around us.  A couple of weeks ago we headed to Historic Camden, a town about an hour and a half east in South Carolina.

We wanted to visit Historic Camden because there was an important Revolutionary battle there.  I will be writing about the battle soon, but we found Historic Camden to be much more than the battle.  The historic town site brochure states “Spend a few peaceful hours where the British spent a rough year.”

Historic Camden is located on 100 acres where the original townsite was.  There is a collection of period buildings around a parade ground.  Although Camden was predominantly a Patriot town, the British took control shortly after the capture of Charleston and used it as a base of operations in the central part of South Carolina.  Of course, in 1780 there were pretty much only two towns of any size in South Carolina beyond Charleston.  Camden was one of them and Ninety-Six was the other.

On the 100 acres of the Historic Camden site are  two 1800 log houses that contain exhibits, the restored and refurbished 1785 John Craven house, the 1830 Cunningham house where the office and gift shop are located, a blacksmith shed with working traditional forge, the 1795 McCaa house, reconstructions of some of the fortifications built by the British, and the reconstructed colonial Georgian house built by Joseph Kershaw.

The Kershaw house in particular has an interesting history.  Joseph Kershaw as exiled by the British because of his patriotic activities.  He spent 1780 through 1782 in Bermuda under guard.  His house, sawmill, and store were confiscated and used by the British during that time.  General Cornwallis used it as his headquarters when he was in the area. When the British pulled out of Camden in 1781, they burned everything except the Kershaw house.  John Kershaw came back and became a leading citizen of Camden as it rebuilt.  His house survived and was passed down through the generations until toward the end of the Civil War.  It was used by Sherman for a short time and when Sherman left it was burned, but we aren’t sure by whom.  The Confederates blamed it on the Yankees, but Sherman said it was burned by the Confederates after he left and blamed on the Yankees.  The home was reconstructed in place in 1977.  You can tour the interior of the house and rent it for special events.
Cunningham House
McCaa House
Bradley House
Kershaw House
Canons used at Camden
Blacksmith Shop
 We walked around Historic Camden and looked at all the houses.  We watched a 15 minute movie on Camden and walked around a short Nature Trail.  We checked out the redoubts and reconstructed fortifications.
216The first weekend in November Historic Camden hosts the Revolutionary War Field Days which attracts some 500-600 re-enactors and includes a daily battle, living history demonstrations, traditional craftsmen, a period fashion show, kids’ activities, etc.  Historic Camden is open Tuesday-Saturday from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. and is free, although a $3 donation per person is suggested.
Historic Camden isn’t the only place to visit in Camden.  There are historic structures from the 1770s through the Civil War scattered through the town.  We saw the Bethesda Presbyterian Church that was built shortly after the Revolutionary War.  We had lunch at a 1930’s diner in downtown called BSL Sandwich Shop.  Their claim to fame is a hamburger on grilled bread and handcut fries.  Greasy and delicious.
On our way home from Camden, we stopped in Fort Mill to visit the Pucker Butt Pepper Company.  Tom read about it online and heard it was home to the certified hottest pepper of all time.  We found the store in Fort Mill and managed to get in just before it closed.  We spent a little

camden 072time talking to the employee there and he recommended some hot sauces made with the Pucker Butt pepper.  We sent some to John and to our friend Eric, who likes sauces hotter than anyone else we know.  We also sent them some of the seeds for the pepper so they can grow their own.

Tom and I enjoyed our adventure day and we had lots of fun exploring some back road places.  Historic Camden was interesting, the Sandwich Shop gave us energy to continue, and the Pucker Butt Pepper company made us laugh.