Camden is a city in, and the county seat of, Kershaw County, South Carolina, United States. The population was 6,838 in the 2010 census. It is part of the Columbia, South Carolina, Metropolitan Statistical Area.
|Camden, South Carolina|
Original Kershaw County courthouse in Camden
|Nickname(s): Steeplechase Capital of the World|
According to the United States Census Bureau, Camden has a total area of 10.68 square miles (27.7 km2), of which 10.07 square miles (26.1 km2) is land and 0.61 square miles (1.6 km2) (5.71%) is water.
Camden is the oldest inland city and fourth oldest city in South Carolina. It is near the center of the Cofitachequi chiefdom that existed in the 1500s. In 1730, Camden became part of a township plan ordered by King George II. Kershaw County’s official web site states, “Originally laid out in 1732 as the town of Fredericksburg in the Wateree River swamp (south of the present town) when King George II ordered eleven inland townships established along South Carolina's rivers, few of the area settlers chose to take lots surveyed in the town, choosing the higher ground to the north. The township soon disappeared.” In 1758, Joseph Kershaw, from Yorkshire, England came into the township, established a store and renamed the town Pine Tree Hill. Camden became the main inland trade center in the colony. Kershaw suggested that the town be renamed Camden, in honor of Lord Camden, the champion of colonial rights.
May 1780 brought the American Revolution to Charleston, South Carolina, when it fell under the Crown's control. Lord Charles Cornwallis and 2,500 of his Loyalist and British troops marched to Camden and established there the main British supply post for the Southern campaign. The Battle of Camden, the worst American defeat of the Revolution, was fought on August 16, 1780 near Camden, and on April 25, 1781 the Battle of Hobkirk Hill was fought between about 1,400 troops led by General Nathanael Greene and 950 Loyalists and British soldiers led by Lord Francis Rawdon. The latter battle was a costly win for the British, and forced them to leave Camden and retreat to the coast. After the Revolution, Camden's prominence and wealth grew as a major interior trading town with direct ties to Charleston and the world. Regional products, augmented with goods from the interior of North Carolina and far lands to the west were transported from Camden to Charleston on flat-bottom riverboats that plied the adjacent Wateree river before the railroad arrived in 1842.
Camden, although not involved directly with the Civil War, did send six generals who contributed significantly. Hero of the American Civil WarRichard Rowland Kirkland - 'The Angel of Marye's Heights' - is interred in the Old Quaker Cemetery. At the end of the war, components of Sherman's army burned Confederate and nearby properties including a full block of downtown buildings. The last Federal officer killed in the Civil War died in a skirmish near Camden.
Starting in the mid-1880s the Camden area became an increasingly popular destination for wealthy northern families to spend the winter. Eventually three resort hotels provided state of the art winter tourism activities well into the 1930s and beyond. The town became associated with many equestrian activities, and is now the home of the third oldest active polo field in America. In the winter, more than 1,500 thoroughbreds call the area home. According to Kershaw County’s web site, “Horse related activities became very popular. That interest in equine activities has continued and today the horse industry is a major part of the county economy. For that reason, the county is known as the ‘Steeplechase Capital of the World’.”
Because of its long history and many years of wealthy winter visitors and deep-pocket northern owners, Camden has an enviable inventory of antebellum homes and charm that remains unique among towns of its size in South Carolina and elsewhere.
The Adamson Mounds Site, Belmont Neck Site -38KE06, Bethesda Presbyterian Church, Boykin Mill Complex, Camden Battlefield, Zachariah Cantey House, Carter Hill, City of Camden Historic District, Cool Springs, Thomas English House, Historic Camden Revolutionary War Restoration, Kendall Mill Historic District, McDowell Site, Mulberry Plantation (James and Mary Boykin Chesnut House), and Seaboard Air Line Railway Depot are listed on the National Register of Historic Places.