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Bob Gillespie

Bob Gillespie

Bob is a former sports writer at Columbia’s The State newspaper. He enjoys golf at South Carolina’s 350-plus courses, and after a round, sampling craft beers from the Palmetto State’s breweries.

The Revolutionary War in SC: The Midlands

History & Heritage / Midlands / 3 Days

While South Carolina's Lowcountry and Upstate are home to most of the important in-state battles of the Revolutionary War, the Midlands also claim a number of significant sites in the fight for American independence. Among them are Camden and Eutawville, where area museums feature collections of weapons, uniforms and other memorabilia from the American Revolution.

Download the free guide to Reliving the Revolution in South Carolina to help plan your journey through history.



While the Midlands includes all of South Carolina between the Upstate and Lowcountry, the charming city of Camden is centrally located and offers a wide range of accommodations that could serve as your base camp. One of South Carolina’s oldest inland cities and the site of two Revolutionary War battles, Camden’s walkable downtown, historic neighborhoods and acres of parks have made it a popular destination.

Try the charming accommodations at Four Oaks Inn, which offers a tranquil retreat with sprawling, two-acre grounds, a sparkling pool and many alcoves to relax in with a good book or a glass of wine.

If you’d prefer more varied nightlife, consider staying in nearby Columbia. South Carolina’s capital city effortlessly marries urban vibrancy with the allure of the great outdoors and offers accommodations to suit every style and budget. If you want to stay in the heart of downtown, check out Aloft Columbia Downtown, Columbia Marriott or Courtyard by Marriott Columbia Downtown at USC.

reenactors at Camden's Revolutionary War Days
Camden’s yearly Revolutionary War Days is a can’t-miss event for history buffs.

Explore Revolutionary History in Historic Camden

One of South Carolina’s oldest inland cities, Camden was a strategic location for both the British and Continental armies and the site of two Revolutionary War battles. With more than 100 acres of historic plantation grounds to explore and yearly live-action Revolutionary War battle reenactments, historic Camden is a must-see attraction for history buffs.

Start your day with breakfast classics like omelets, eggs Benedict or shrimp and grits at Eggs Up Grill or try griddle favorites like Southern fried chicken and waffle cakes or stuffed French toast at King’s Kitchen.

After breakfast, head to the Revolutionary War Visitor Center, where exhibits and an introductory video explain South Carolina's pivotal role in the Revolutionary War. Built adjacent to the Historic Camden Revolutionary War Site, the Visitor Center is composed of several buildings, including the Exhibit Hall, which houses an array of original objects, replicas and interactive exhibits; the Assembly Building, which serves as an educational symposium; and a brick Market Building modeled on an old-style, open-air market.

Take some time to explore the Camden Archives and Museum. You’ll find a diverse collection of genealogical and historical resources, plus local and regional history exhibits, including Camden’s original town clock.

When you’re ready for lunch, head to Salud Mexican Kitchen for flavorful, authentic Mexican dishes, or dine al fresco on a pimento cheese BLT at The Loopy Lemon.

Afterward, explore the Camden Battlefield and Longleaf Pine Preserve, where the 1780 Battle of Camden unfolded. Although the Battle of Camden was disastrous for the American cause, it ushered in changes in military leadership that altered the course of the war.

Part of The Historic Camden Revolutionary War Site, this 107-acre outdoor museum complex features two reinstituted log cabins with exhibits, the restored 1785 Craven House, the restored McCaa’s Tavern and the reconstructed Kershaw-Cornwallis House, which served as Lord Cornwallis’ headquarters during the 1780-1781 Southern campaigns.

Camden is also home to the Battle of Hobkirk's Hill, the Battle of Boykin’s Mill, the Bonds Conway House and the fully restored Historic Robert Mills Courthouse. Other notable attractions include the Quaker Cemetery, the African American Cultural Center of Camden, and the Springdale Race Course and the National Steeplechase Museum.

For dinner, enjoy upscale dining at Sam Kendall’s, which offers classic and contemporary American cuisine, or enjoy a variety of Italian and Greek cuisine at Camden House of Pizza.

Travel Tip
Travel Tip:

Held annually on the second weekend of November, the Battle of Camden Reenactment features hundreds of living historians portraying Crown and Patriot Revolutionary War soldiers, along with craftsmen with period demonstrations, merchants with reproduced wares, and mock battles complete with cavalry, cannons and muskets.

reenactors at Camden's Revolutionary War Days
Experience what life was like during the revolution at Camden’s Revolutionary War Days, a weekend-long event filled with reenactments and demonstrations of colonial crafts and skills.

Revolutionary Tales in Sumter, Manning and Eutawville

Kick off your day in Sumter with breakfast at Baker's Sweets Bistro & Bakery. This cozy hotspot serves breakfast every day until 11 a.m. You can’t go wrong with their selection of pancakes, french toast, omelets and breakfast sandwiches.

After breakfast, visit the General Thomas Sumter Memorial Park, the burial site of the famed "Fighting Gamecock" and namesake of the town and county, as well as Charleston's Fort Sumter. A large marker lists Sumter's many accomplishments.

You can learn more about Sumter at the Sumter County Museum, which comprises the Williams Brice House, the Martha Brice Gardens, Carolina Backcountry Homestead, the Heritage Education Center with McKenzie Hall, and the new award-winning Temple Sinai Jewish History Center.

An Edwardian house built in 1916, the Williams Brice House hosts exhibits on Sumter County through the years, military history and Coca-Cola. The home is surrounded by the Martha Brice Gardens. Designed by Robert Marvin in the early 1960s, the gardens contain dozens of azaleas and camellias, along with magnolias, dogwoods and towering 100-year-old pecan trees.

Stroll across the lawn to the Carolina Backcountry Homestead. The Settler’s House and Commissary are original buildings built between 1812 and 1836, but there are several recreated buildings including a smokehouse, blacksmith shop, outdoor kitchen and more.

For lunch, head to Hamptons, one of the area’s best fine dining restaurants featuring American and Italian dishes. If you prefer to get on the road before lunch, the next stop is in Manning, which is noted for its barbecue—D&H Bar B Que is one of the best.

Manning is near the site of the Battle of Ox Swamp. While not a major battle, the clash between British Colonel Banastre Tarleton and his Green Dragoons and American General Francis Marion's brigade gave birth to Marion's famous nickname—the "Swamp Fox." Unable to find Marion and his men, a frustrated Tarleton gave up pursuing the Patriots, saying, "... as for the old fox (Marion), the devil himself could not catch him." You'll find a marker mounted on the wall of the Manning Fire Station and a large painted mural on South Boundary Street (SC 261).

Farther south, off Interstate 95's Exit 102 near Summerton, is Fort Watson, part of a British chain of forts. It was built atop Indian Mound, a large hill that had served for 1,000 years as a burial site for Santee Indians. After an earlier Patriot attack failed, Marion and Lee captured the fort in February 1781, helping force the British to abandon South Carolina. Indian Mound and Fort Watson, now part of Santee National Wildlife Refuge, are open daily to visitors.

The final stop of the day is Eutawville and the site of the Battle of Eutaw Springs, one of the most vital—and bloodiest—Revolutionary War battles in South Carolina. Eutaw Springs Battlefield Park marks the site where General Nathanael Greene attacked and captured a British encampment, killing or wounding 700 British troops and forcing the remainder to retreat to Charleston. The victory was the last major engagement of the war in the South and all but secured control of the region by the Patriots. Listed in the National Register of Historic Places since 1970, the tree-shaded park sits at the edge of Lake Marion and includes a historic marker relating the story of the battle.

On your way back to Camden, stop for dinner at Mill Pond Steakhouse in historic Boykin or stop back in Sumter for fresh pasta at Demara’s Italian Restaurant or Southern cooking with a Cajun twist at Simply Southern Bistro.

Travel Tip
Travel Tip:

Three times a year, the Sumter County Museum hosts free Living History Days. Watch costumed interpreters plying their crafts at blacksmithing, woodworking, spinning and weaving. There are also children’s crafts and games from the 1800s.

Thomas Sumter memorial, Sumer County Museum
The Sumter County Museum is actually a complex of several small museums that transport you to different eras of South Carolina’s history.

Revolutionary Road Trip: From Battlefields to Cityscapes

Enjoy a morning drive to the town of Heath Springs, home to the August 1780 Battle of Hanging Rock. In this key skirmish, SC Colonel Thomas Sumter attacked and defeated a larger British force, helping the Patriots loosen British control in the South. The site includes the original Hanging Rock, an unusual formation with a granite stone at its base.

Continue south to Winnsboro to visit the Cornwallis House, where British General Lord Charles Cornwallis wintered during the final year of the revolution. One of the oldest houses in Winnsboro, it is the only remaining site outside Williamsburg, Virginia, occupied by both British troops during the Revolutionary War and Union soldiers during the Civil War. Originally built in 1776, the home's two-foot-thick masonry walls still stand strong. The home is privately owned, but the historic marker is at the intersection of Zion Street and College Street.

Next stop is South Carolina’s capital City—Columbia. Indulge in delicious deli-style sandwiches and salads at Di Prato's, a local favorite known for its high-quality ingredients and generous portions. Try the Italian Grinder or the Turkey Avocado Wrap for a satisfying lunch. Or explore global flavors at The Vista, one of Columbia’s most vibrant arts, dining and entertainment districts. Choose from options like poke bowls at Freshe Poke, fresh forest-to-table fare at The Hollow, or craft your own pizza at Old Chicago Pizza + Taproom.

After lunch, spend some time exploring the South Carolina State Museum’s four floors of permanent exhibits, including Revolutionary War displays, that explore the state’s diverse and exciting history through more than 70,000 pieces of art, artifacts and more.

History buffs may also want to visit sites such as the Robert Mills House, one of only five National Historic Landmarks in Columbia; Hampton-Preston Mansion, one of Columbia’s oldest remaining structures; and the Woodrow Wilson Family Home, the nation’s only museum dedicated to interpreting the post-Civil War Reconstruction period and South Carolina’s only remaining presidential site.

Take a detour on your way back to Camden and to visit Calhoun County's Fort Motte, site of a principal depot for British convoys between Charleston and Camden. The fort began life as Mount Joseph Plantation and was fortified atop a hill, but Patriots under Marion and Colonel Henry "Light Horse Harry" Lee surrounded and captured British troops occupying the fort, then burned it. The site is on Lang Syne Road.

Travel Tip
Travel Tip:

Looking for more Revolutionary War sites to explore? This three-day itinerary in the Upstate includes visits to Historic Brattonsville, Musgrove Mill Museum and the Hanover House in Clemson.

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