All That Can Be Expected: The Battle of Camden and the British High Tide in the South, August 16, 1780

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Rob Orrison/Mark Wilcox
Pub Date:
August 2023
Paperback, 6 x 9
75 images, 5 maps, 192pp.
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About the Book

“They have done all that can be expected of them; we are outnumbered and outflanked,” so described Lt. Col. Benjamin Ford of the desperate situation for his Marylanders at Camden on August 16, 1780.

The battle of Camden is considered by many historians as the high tide of Great Britain’s prospects for victory in the American south. Beginning in the spring of 1780, British leadership focused their attention on conquering the southern colonies. In May 1780, Charleston, South Carolina capitulated and the British captured the bulk of the American Southern army. After the fall of Charleston, the British set up outposts through the South Carolina backcountry in an effort to secure the colony with hopes of moving into North Carolina. In response, the Continental Congress sent the “hero of Saratoga,” Gen. Horatio Gates, to establish a new American Southern army. Gates named this new force as his “Grand Army,” of which its core was a small contingent of experienced Continentals from Maryland and Delaware. However, the majority of Gates’ army were untested, newly-recruited militia from Virginia and North Carolina. Soon after arriving in North Carolina, Gates impetuously led his forces south to confront the British based near Camden, South Carolina. The mostly- inexperienced army lined up against some of the best units of the British army in America and commanded by one of their best generals, Gen. Lord Charles Cornwallis. In a series of misfortunes, what happened on August 16, 1780 was an unmitigated disaster for the Americans.

In All That Can Be Expected: The Battle of Camden and the British High Tide in the South, August 16, 1780, historians Rob Orrison and Mark Wilcox describe the events that led to one of the worst American military defeats in United States history. The authors lead you in the footsteps of American and British soldiers throughout the South Carolina backcountry. They interweave a clear historic narrative while guiding the reader to historic locations, creating a precise understanding of the events of August 1780.

Robert Orrison is co-founder of Emerging Revolutionary War and has worked in the public history field for over 25 years. He currently serves as the Division Manager for the Prince William County (VA) Office of Historic Preservation. Some of his published works include A Single Blow: The Battles of Lexington and Concord and the Beginning of the American Revolution, A Want of Vigilance: The Bristoe Station Campaign, The Last Road North: A Guide to the Gettysburg Campaign, 1863, and To Hazard All: A Guide to the Maryland Campaign, 1862. Mark Wilcox is a historian who currently works as a ranger at Richmond National Battlefield Park and the Maggie L. Walker National Historic Site, leading battlefield tours around Richmond and presenting programs on the city’s Revolutionary War, Civil War, and Civil Rights history. Mark is also a living historian of the Colonial-Era who has provided educational programs for many public history sites in Virginia. He is a member of the Richmond Chapter of the Revolutionary War Roundtable and blogs for Emerging Revolutionary War Era.