A History of Camden, South Carolina

Kershaw County Court House - Camden, SC (2007)

Established in 1732 as Pine Tree Hill, Camden is the oldest inland city of South Carolina and was the major British garrison of Lord Cornwallis during the Revolutionary War. The battles of Hobkirk Hill and Camden were fought in the vicinity and twelve other Revolutionary War battles took place nearby. The natives invite you to "Come spend a few pleasant hours where the British spent a miserable winter!"

Old Kershaw County Court House - Camden, SC (2008)

One of the early and important actions of the Royal Government was the Township Act of 1730; additional townships were authorized in 1761. The first Act authorized nine townships containing 20,000 acres each, and agents were sent to Europe to recruit families as settlers. The families were offered inducements such as free transportation to South Carolina, free provisions for one year, and free land. The townships neither created nor kept records; their functions were solely geographical. Townships, like parishes, were used for some tax districts and appeared as locators in grants and conveyances.

Kershaw-Cornwallis House - Built in 1777 - Camden, South Carolina

Camden, the oldest existing inland town in the state, was part of a township plan ordered by King George II in 1730. The frontier settlement, initially named Fredericksburg Township (later Pine Tree Hill), took hold by the 1750s, as Quakers and Scots-Irish emigrants and settlers from Virginia put down roots.

Joseph Kershaw, a native of Yorkshire, England, arrived in 1758 and established a store for a Charlestown mercantile firm. He prospered and by 1768 the town was the inland trade center in the colony. At his suggestion, the town became Camden, in honor of Lord Camden, champion of colonial rights.

The town of Camden was the district seat for the Camden District between 1769 and 1800, then the county seat for Kershaw County since its inception in 1798.

In May of 1780, the American Revolution returned to Charlestown, which quickly fell. Lt. General Charles, Lord Cornwallis and 2,500 British troops soon marched to Camden and set up the main British supply post for the Southern Campaign. For eleven months the citizens of Camden understood the atrocities of war.

Two battles were fought nearby. The Battle of Camden, the worst American defeat of the Revolution, was fought on August 16, 1780, nine miles north of the present-day Camden museum. Major General Horatio Gates led the Patriots in this inglorious defeat, and he was soon relieved of his command.

Nearby, Major General Nathanael Greene and approximately 1,400 Americans engaged 950 British soldiers commanded by Francis, Lord Rawdon at Hobkirk's Hill on April 25, 1781. It was a costly British win and forced the Redcoats to evacuate Camden roughly two weeks later.

Camden Hospital - 1923

Camden was granted a US Post Office on March 20, 1793, and its first Postmaster was Mr. John Reid. It has been in continuous operation ever since inception.
Click Here to see the Plan of Camden, SC in 1904 provided by Kirkland & Kennedy in "Historic Camden," published in 1905 by the State Company in Columbia, SC.

Camden Town Plat 1774 - From SC State Archives

Camden Town Plat 1798 - From SC State Archives

Click Here to view / download a 2017 map of Camden, SC. Adobe PDF file. Fairly large file.

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