People sometimes get so caught up in South Carolina's Civil War history that they overlook the pivotal role the state played in the American Revolution. The Olde English District, so named because the region was settled by the English in the 1770s, is home to many of the state's key Revolutionary battles from Camden to Brattonsville.
The area is made up of seven counties in the north central area of the state just this side of the state line with North Carolina. Here are seven must-see historic sites related to the Revolutionary War.
1) Hanging Rock: Just off Flat Rock Road, about five miles south of Heath Springs, is this unusual rock formation marked with a granite stone at its base. It is one of just a handful of South Carolina sites that saw action in both the American Revolution and the Civil War. It was here that a small group of soldiers from Gen. Thomas Sumter's troops defeated a larger group of British and Loyalist fighters in 1780. The site also hosted Gen. William T. Sherman's troops for a couple of nights during the Civil War.
2) Cornwallis House: This house is one of the oldest in Winnsboro and was named for the famed British general, Lord Charles Cornwallis, who wintered here during the final year of the American Revolution (1780-81). The original two-story house was built before 1776, with heavy masonry walls nearly two feet thick and coated in hard plaster. A wing and third floor were added after the Revolutionary War, when it became the property of war hero Capt. John Buchanan, whose family held it until 1862. Over the years, the house at 127 N. Zion St. has been expanded and renovated several times, most recently in 2001. It is privately owned. Tours can be arranged by calling (803) 815-7485
3) Battle of Musgrove Mill State Historic Site: Coming on the heels of the British victory at Camden, the Battle of Musgrove Mill gave hope to the struggling Patriots who were all but driven out of South Carolina in the summer of 1780. Today, Musgrove Mill offers an interpretive center to explain the ins and outs of this small but important battle that bolstered morale in the South Carolina backcountry between the defeat at Camden and the victory at Kings Mountain. The park's 360 acres include a canoe and kayak launch on the Enoree River and the scenic Horseshoe Falls. Musgrove Mill is at 398 State Park Road, Clinton. Admission to the park is free, and it is open 9 a.m. - 6 p.m. daily. Call 864.938.0100 for more information.
4) Nanny's Mountain: This is where South Carolina got the iron to manufacture its Revolutionary War weaponry. Today, it is a wonderful trail up to a small mountain formation that is known as a monadnock, a single rock outcropping surrounded by gently sloping or even flat land. From the parking area on Liberty Hill Road West at SC 49, you will pass the mines in the first quarter-mile of your hike. Then you will see where the trail splits: one takes you to the education center at the top of Nanny's Mountain, and the other takes you to a picnic area and scenic overlook. You will get a cool view of Lake Wylie as well as the Charlotte, NC, skyline. You also can see Kings Mountain from here. The trail is a little more than a mile long.
5) Andrew Jackson State Park: "Old Hickory" wrote that he was born on South Carolina soil on March 15, 1767, at the plantation where his uncle, James Crawford, lived. Created as a memorial to the seventh president of the United States, this 360-acre park features a museum and a one-room schoolhouse illustrating life in the Carolina backcountry in the 18th century. It also has 25 campsites with water and electricity, a bathhouse with hot showers and picnic area. The park has an 18-acre lake where you can fish and rent boats. Pets are allowed on a leash. The park is open daily, with longer hours from April through October. The museum is open weekends 1 - 5 p.m. and weekdays by appointment. The site is at 196 Andrew Jackson Park Road, Lancaster. Call 803.285.3344 for more information.
6) Historic Camden Revolutionary War Site: This 107-acre historic site includes two log houses and the rebuilt Kershaw-Cornwallis House, which served as British headquarters from August 1780 to May 1781. A series of trails leads to fortifications, a powder magazine, modern picnic facilities and a nature trail. Also on the site are the 1785 John Craven house, which has been restored; the 1830 Cunningham house, which serves as an office and gift shop; and a blacksmith shed with working traditional forge. The site is free and open daily for self-guided tours, except when it hosts the annual Revolutionary War Field Days during the first weekend of November. Guided tours are $5 for adults with discounts for seniors and children and are offered several times daily. As they say here, come spend a few hours where the British spent a rough year. Call 803.432.9841 for more information.
7) Historic Brattonsville: Made famous by the film "The Patriot," Historic Brattonsville gives visitors a glimpse into 18th- and 19th-century life in the South Carolina backcountry. This 775-acre Revolutionary War living history site includes three dozen historical structures. Costumed historical interpreters present a picture of daily life from farming to household chores, including the stories of African-Americans in the early plantation days. The site also includes eight miles of trails. Every summer, the site hosts a reenactment of the Battle of Huck's Defeat, where a band of British soldiers was overwhelmed by Patriots and killed or captured. The small victory in the summer of 1780 offered hope to the struggling revolutionaries who would see major victories later that year at Kings Mountain and Cowpens. The site is open Tuesday - Sunday. Admission is $8 for adults with discounts for seniors and children. Call 803.684.2327 for more information.