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Topographical drawing of Hobkirk Hill

Hobkirk Hill

Second Battle of Camden

South Carolina  |  Apr 25, 1781

Following the capture of Charleston in May, 1780 the British army under Charles, Lord Cornwallis established a string of outposts throughout South Carolina. Camden, Lieutenant Colonel Francis Rawdon and the site of a catastrophic Continental defeat that summer, lay in the center of the British line.

In the early spring of 1781, Continental Maj. Gen. Nathanael Greene initiated a campaign to drive the British from South Carolina.  His first objective was Rawdon's garrison. Lead elements of Greene's force reached the outskirts of Camden on April 19 and the rest of the army arrived the following day. Finding Rawdon's defenses too strong, Greene assumed a position north of the garrison atop Hobkirk Hill.

On April 25, Rawdon sallied forth and launched an attack on the Continentals. Confusion and the loss of officers in Greene's ranks caused his line to fall apart, however, he managed to disengage and conduct an orderly withdrawal. Despite the victory, Rawdon, low on supplies, abandoned Camden a little over two weeks later.

Following his victory at Guilford Courthouse on March 15, 1781, British Lt. Gen. Charles, Lord Cornwallis withdrew toward the North Carolina coast to rest and resupply his command. Rather than give chase, Continental Maj. Gen. Nathanael Greene decided to launch a campaign to capture the British garrisons in South Carolina. Greene's first target was the outpost at Camden under Lt. Col. Francis, Lord Rawdon. Upon his approach, Greene dispatched Capt. Robert Kirkwood and his Delaware Continentals to reconnoiter Rawdon's defenses on April 19. Kirkwood reached the settlement of Logtown, north of Camden that night and skirmished with Rawdon's pickets. The rest of the army arrived the following day. Finding the British defenses too strong, Greene withdrew to an eminence above Logtown, Hobkirk Hill, in the hopes Rawdon would attack him on ground of his own choosing.

Forces Engaged
2,450
American
1,550
British
900

Rawdon decided to attack Greene on April 25. His force consisted of the 63rd Regiment of Foot along with elements from his own Volunteers of Ireland, the King's American Regiment, New York Volunteers and the South Carolina Royalist Regiment. The British encountered Greene's pickets early in the afternoon as they advanced toward Hobkirk Hill. From left to right, Greene's line consisted of the 2nd Maryland, 1st Maryland, 2nd Virginia and 1st Virginia. Greene observed the British moving on a narrow front, with his own lines extending well beyond their flanks. Accordingly, he decided to launch a counterattack and sent his men forward. During the advance, a British volley killed Capt. William Beatty of the 1st Maryland. Beatty's death caused confusion in the ranks. In an effort to re-establish order, the regiment's colonel, John Gunby ordered two companies to withdraw and reform. The order, however, did not reach his second in command, Maj. John Eager Howard, who continued the assault. On Gunby's left, Col. Benjamin Ford, commanding the 2nd Maryland fell wounded, adding to the chaotic situation and causing the regiment to retreat. Over on Greene's right, the 1st Virginia met stiff resistance and also withdrew, opening up a gap in the line and subjecting the 2nd Virginia to enfilade fire. With command and control gone, the Continentals retreated, however, Greene managed to successfully disengage and abandon Hobkirk Hill. 

American
270
19 killed
113 wounded
138 missing & captured
Estimated Casualties
528
American
270
British
258
British
258
38 killed
177 wounded
43 missing & captured

Although Rawdon managed to drive Greene from Hobkirk Hill and secure Camden, the capture of Fort Watson by Lt. Col. "Light Horse Harry" Lee and Brig. Gen. Francis Marion two days before the battle dealt a severe blow to his supply line. Two weeks after the battle, Rawdon elected to abandon Camden and the garrison became the first to fall to Greene's army.

All battles of the Southern Theater 1780 - 1783 Campaign

Rev War  |  Battle
Charleston
South Carolina  |  Feb 11 - May 12, 1780
Result: British Victory
Est. Casualties: 5,764
American: 5,506
British: 258
Rev War  |  Battle
Lenud's Ferry
Berkeley County, SC  |  May 6, 1780
Result: British Victory
Est. Casualties: 41
American: 41
Rev War  |  Battle
Waxhaws
South Carolina  |  May 29, 1780
Result: British Victory
Est. Casualties: 333
American: 316
British: 17
Rev War  |  Battle
Alexander's Old Field
Beckhamville, South Carolina  |  Jun 6, 1780
Result: American Victory
Rev War  |  Battle
Huck's Defeat
South Carolina  |  Jul 12, 1780
Result: American Victory
Est. Casualties: 96
American: 1
British: 95
Rev War  |  Battle
Rocky Mount
Fairfield County, South Carolina  |  Jul 30, 1780
Result: British Victory
Est. Casualties: 32
American: 12
British: 20
Rev War  |  Battle
Camden
South Carolina  |  Aug 16, 1780
Result: British Victory
Est. Casualties: 2,224
American: 1,900
British: 324
Rev War  |  Battle
Musgrove Mill
South Carolina  |  Aug 19, 1780
Result: American Victory
Est. Casualties: 149
American: 16
British: 133
Rev War  |  Battle
Kings Mountain
South Carolina  |  Oct 7, 1780
Result: American Victory
Est. Casualties: 1,108
American: 90
British: 1,018
Rev War  |  Battle
Blackstock's Plantation
Union, SC  |  Nov 20, 1780
Result: American Victory
American: 7
British: 192
Rev War  |  Battle
Rugeley's Mill
South Carolina  |  Dec 4, 1780
Result: American Victory
Rev War  |  Battle
Hammond's Store
Laurens County, South Carolina  |  Dec 30, 1780
Result: American Victory
Est. Casualties: 150
British: 150
Rev War  |  Battle
Cowpens
South Carolina  |  Jan 17, 1781
Result: American Victory
Est. Casualties: 1,017
American: 149
British: 868
Rev War  |  Battle
Guilford Courthouse
North Carolina  |  Mar 15, 1781
Result: British Victory
Est. Casualties: 1,842
American: 1,310
British: 532
Rev War  |  Battle
Beattie's Mill
Abbeville County, South Carolina  |  Mar 21, 1781
Result: American Victory
Est. Casualties: 76
British: 76
Rev War  |  Battle
Siege of Fort Watson
Summerton, South Carolina  |  Apr 15 - 23, 1781
Result: American Victory
Est. Casualties: 116
American: 2
British: 114
Rev War  |  Battle
Hobkirk Hill
South Carolina  |  Apr 25, 1781
Result: British Victory
Est. Casualties: 528
American: 270
British: 258
Rev War  |  Battle
Ninety Six
South Carolina  |  May 22 - Jun 19, 1781
Result: British Victory
Est. Casualties: 232
American: 147
British: 85
Rev War  |  Battle
Parker's Ferry
Colleton County, SC  |  Aug 30, 1781
Result: American Victory
Est. Casualties: 209
American: 4
British: 205
Rev War  |  Battle
Eutaw Springs
South Carolina  |  Sep 8, 1781
Result: British Victory
Est. Casualties: 1,461
American: 579
British: 882
Rev War  |  Battle
Wadboo Barony
South Carolina  |  Aug 29, 1782
Result: Inconclusive
Est. Casualties: 20
American: 3
British: 17
Rev War  |  Battle
Dills Bluff
James Island, SC  |  Nov 14, 1782
Result: British Victory
Est. Casualties: 15
American: 10
British: 5

Related Battles

South Carolina | April 25, 1781
Result: British Victory
Commanders
Forces Engaged
2,450
American
1,550
British
900
Estimated Casualties
528
American
270
British
258