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Hobkirk's Hill

Second Battle of Camden

South Carolina  |  Apr 25, 1781

The British held a chain of outposts that ran from Augusta, Georgia, up through South Carolina. Camden, the site of a catastrophic American defeat in the summer of 1780, lay in the center of the British line. The British garrison at Camden was led by Lieutenant Colonel Francis Rawdon, who had been left in effective command of British forces in the South after the departure of Cornwallis. 

Although American General Nathanael Greene attempted to approach Camden in secret, his arrival did not go undetected. The British forces sat behind their fortifications, prepared for an attack by the Americans. Nonetheless, Rawdon was in a precarious position. Not only was his position threatened by Greene, but his supply line connecting Camden with Charleston was also under attack by Francis Marion’s partisan band. The British commander was forced to dispatch 500 men under Lieutenant Colonel John Watson Tadwell-Watson to seek out and destroy the legendary “Swamp Fox.” Rawdon was thus left with only 900 men to defend Camden. 

On April 20, with the element of surprise lost, Greene arrayed his forces on a ridge known as Hobkirk’s Hill, a mile and half north of town. He hoped to draw out and destroy the British army with his force of 1,551 men, most of whom were regular Continental Army soldiers. 

On April 21, Greene learned that Watson’s force was on its way back to Camden. In response, the American general detached his artillery and a portion of his infantry to cover the road from Charleston.

On the morning of April 25, a deserter from Greene’s army arrived in Camden and informed Rawdon of the division of the American army. With the Patriots on Hobkirk’s Hill temporarily outnumbered and undefended by artillery, the British commander decided to strike.

At around 11 A.M., as the Americans were settling down to eat, musket fire from Greene’s pickets alerted the Patriots to their peril. As the British moved forward, they were showered with a hail of grapeshot. Unbeknownst to Rawdon, Greene had reunited his army earlier that morning after discovering that the rumor of Watson’s approach was false. 

Greene, perceiving that Rawdon was attacking along a narrow front, decided to strike the enemy on both flanks. Although Rawdon recognized his mistake and ordered his reserves to extend his line to the right and left, Greene’s attack initially went as planned. The British were confused by the unexpected presence of American artillery and suffered heavy losses.

However, at this point, Maryland troops faltered in the attack and pulled back. This costly blunder caused panic to spread through the American army, leading to a fall scale retreat.

The British lost roughly 260 men in the battle, including at least 38 killed. The Americans lost roughly 270 men.

All battles of the Southern Theater 1780 - 1783 Campaign

Rev War  |  Battle
Charleston
South Carolina  |  Mar 29 - May 12, 1780
Result: British Victory
Est. Casualties: 5,764
American: 5,506
British: 258
Rev War  |  Battle
Monck's Corner
South Carolina  |  Apr 14, 1780
Result: British Victory
Est. Casualties: 102
American: 99
British: 3
Rev War  |  Battle
Lenud's Ferry
Berkeley, 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
Williamson's Plantation
South Carolina  |  Jul 12, 1780
Result: American Victory
Est. Casualties: 96
American: 1
British: 95
Rev War  |  Battle
Rocky Mount
South Carolina  |  Jul 30, 1780
Result: British Victory
Est. Casualties: 32
American: 12
British: 20
Rev War  |  Battle
Hanging Rock
South Carolina  |  Aug 6, 1780
Result: American Victory
Est. Casualties: 253
American: 53
British: 200
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's Mill
South Carolina  |  Aug 18, 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: 1,211
American: 90
British: 1,121
Rev War  |  Battle
Blackstocks Farm
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
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
Pyle's Defeat
North Carolina  |  Feb 25, 1781
Result: American Victory
Est. Casualties: 344
American: 1
British: 343
Rev War  |  Battle
Guilford Court House
North Carolina  |  Mar 15, 1781
Result: British Victory
Est. Casualties: 1,842
American: 1,310
British: 532
Rev War  |  Battle
Siege of Fort Watson
South Carolina  |  Apr 15 - 23, 1781
Result: Inconclusive
Est. Casualties: 116
American: 2
British: 114
Rev War  |  Battle
Hobkirk's Hill
South Carolina  |  Apr 25, 1781
Result: British Victory
Est. Casualties: 532
American: 271
British: 261
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, 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
Dills Bluff
South Carolina  |  Nov 14, 1782
Result: British Victory
Est. Casualties: 15
American: 10
British: 5

Related Battles

SC | April 25, 1781
Result: British Victory
Commanders
Estimated Casualties
532
American
271
British
261