Camden 1780 - The annihilation of Gates' Grand Army, David Smith

Camden 1780 - The annihilation of Gates' Grand Army, David Smith

Campaign 292

The battle of Camden was one of the high points of the British 'southern strategy', their last attempt to defeat the American rebels by cutting off the flow of supplies from south to north. This entry in the Campaign series covers more than just the battle itself. We start with a look at the roots of the campaign, which evolved after the British defeat at Saratoga in 1777, and got underway towards the end of 1778. We then move to the siege of Charleston, which gave the British a secure base in the south, before examining the field campaigns that included the battle of Camden itself, in which Gate's 'Grand Army', originally sent south to try and lift the siege, was defeated and almost destroyed.

This book covers a wide range of events, not just the major sieges and battles, but including a series of otherwise obscure minor clashes that helped to erode British authority after their initial successes. There is also a really good section on the siege of Charleston, looking at how the British succeeded despite the disputes between the senior commanders. These eventually saw the British forced back into Charleston, and marked the failure of the southern strategy. This is a good choice (although the fairly simple nature of the battle of Camden probably makes it an inevitable one), as it allows us to see just why the British plan failed - the majority of the population supported the fight for Independence, making it almost impossible for the British and their Loyalist allies to keep control of the areas they conquered.

As always the text is supported by good maps and a wide range of illustrations. The Charleston maps and the overall campaign maps are most useful (again, because Camden itself was a fairly simple fight, and the two double page spreads dedicated to the battle is probably too many).

Origins of the Campaign
Opposing Commanders
Opposing Armies
The Siege of Charleston
The Aftermath
The Battlefield Today

Author: David Smith
Edition: Paperback
Pages: 96
Publisher: Osprey
Year: 2016

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