Fort Jackson Commanding General, Brig. Gen. Jason E. Kelly, and Col. Mark Huhtanen, deputy commanding officer, salute as the remains of Americans killed during the Revolutionary War Battle of Camden pass during a procession through Fort Jackson, April 20. (Photo by Robert Timmons)

Fort Jackson salutes revolutionary soldiers

By Robert Timmons and Emily Hileman, Fort Jackson Public Affairs

More than 200 years ago cannons roared during a battle in Camden, South Carolina as the Continental Army suffered a humiliating defeat at the hands of the British Army. The remains of 12 American and 1 British soldiers of the 5,930 engaged in the battle, would be found in 2022.

The 13 would hear cannon fire again, April 20, while their remains were moved in a procession through Fort Jackson. Soldiers and civilians from across post lined Jackson Boulevard to salute the procession as it passed. The procession would lead across the Midlands to ultimately return to the battlefield where they fell.

Soldiers and civilians from across post, including those at the U.S. Army Institute for Religious Leadership, stood shoulder-to-shoulder to salute those who fought in the Army years before them.

For some of the future religious affairs specialists, watching the procession was a memorable event they will never forget.

Pfc. Kacie Stewart, who is a history buff, said she was “pretty excited when they first were discussing it in class, they kind of had little highlights of (the battle) … So, I was pretty excited to experience it. I know me, and my fellow peers were talking about a little bit who were like history buffs, too.”

“So, seeing the mix of people all around you and knowing that you are part of something that happened hundreds of years ago and still is being celebrated now,” Stewart said. “It’s just like heroic events and very, just patriotic to me. So that’s, that’s what makes me happy.”

Pvt. Brandon Screen, an Advanced Individual Training student at the IRL, said the significance of the procession made him reflect on his service.

If not for those who fell fighting in the American Revolution the country wouldn’t have the freedom we have today, he said.

“If they wouldn’t die for us, we probably wouldn’t be free now,” Screen said. “So that’s why I think it is very important to honor those who fell defending us.”

The Battle of Camden took place Aug. 16, 1780, when American Maj. Gen. Horatio Gates, hero of the Battle of Saratoga, marched into South Carolina to wrest it from English control. Gates was met by British Gen. Charles Cornwallis and soundly defeated as British bayonets caused inexperienced militia men to break and run.

Cornwallis would later surrender British forces to Gen. George Washington at the Battle of Yorktown to effectively end the war.

Since the war, the two countries have become close allies and fought side-by-side in two world wars.

The British soldier’s remains were also included in the procession.

Sgt. Tyric Miller, who is in school at the IRL to change his military occupational specialty, said it was “a really big deal” to salute the procession.

“It’s just really an honor to honor them,” he said.