Moving on


The way that American History was taught when I was a student was a brief account of the discovery of the Americas by Europeans and a chapter on the Revolutionary War. I’m sue that somewhere we saw a list of the original 13 colonies and that I understood that the stretched from New Hampshire to South Carolina and were mostly along the Atlantic coast. Pennsylvania was the inland colony and Georgia, which was the last of the 13 to be settled, was the farthest south. The area that is now Maine was part of the Massachusetts colony and there was a 14th colony, Nova Scotia, which was the last to be settled and which remained loyal to Britain during the Revolution.

What we studied about the American Revolution were a few of the opening battles, Lexington and Concord, and a bit about the role of indigenous people in the revolution. I don’t remember any lessons about how the war played out in the South. Visiting South Carolina, especially the interior area around Sumpter, has given us a lesson in history of which I was not previously aware. South Carolina was an important battleground during the war for American Independence. The central part of the state was settled with a strong colonial city at Camden. The Camden District was the British administrative district for all of the center of what is now the State of South Carolina. The war of independence was nearly lost in South Carolina, with the British military and loyalists resisting the attacks of the colonialists in the early phases of the war.

The colonists understood the strategic importance of Camden and two of the revolution’s most important battles, the Battle of Camden in August of 1780 and the Battle of Hobkirk’s Hill in April of 1781. The attack of the revolutionaries was rebuffed at the Battle of Camden and the attackers were pursued more than 20 miles into the countryside. The second attack resulted in the Battle of Hobkirk’s Hill and a narrow victory for the revolutionaries, forcing a withdrawal of British troops from Camden.

The city of Camden claims the title of the oldest city in South Carolina and the sites of the historic battles and the original townsite have become places of public remembrance and education. We were able to visit part of the historic townsite and view the exterior of some of the buildings there as well as some of the fortifications. The rebuilt Kershaw home, reconstructed after a fire destroyed the original structure, stands on the site of the original home, and was headquarters for Lord Cornwallis and Lord Reardon. The historic site, operated in cooperation with the National Park Service, has a lot to see and offers a good supplement to the incomplete historical knowledge that we gained in school.

Visiting in July, when the heat and humidity was high, served as a reminder of the conditions faced by the revolutionaries in August of 1780. There was no air conditioning and although the combatants would have had time to acclimatize themselves, there must have been a lot of discomfort for attacking troops who lived out of doors dealing withe the heat, humidity, insects and rainfall. The conditions are much different that we imagine the lives of the troops who fought in more northern climes during the winter. Many famous revolutionary war paintings depict winter scenes with snow and ice. Those pictures don’t tell the whole story.

This part of our trip is winding down. After a wonderful visit with our daughter and her family we leave South Carolina this morning and head back towards home. Our plan is to retrace the route we took to get here, pausing in South Dakota for a few days to see friends there. Although we have had the luxury of staying more than a week, it feels a bit like we are leaving too soon. I guess it will always feel that way when we visit the ones we love.

A line that I often incorporate into wedding services goes something like this: “We raise our children in love that they might learn to love, but we cannot walk every step of their life’s journey with them. There are moments in life when we need to step aside and allow them to go their own way, trusting in the love that they have found.” I have to remind myself of that every time I say good bye to our daughter. She is a delightful woman who has found love and she has become able to trust that love. It is a great treasure to us as parents to know that the love of her family surrounds and supports her. But I need to continually remind myself to trust the power of that love. Love has sustained me in my life and I believe in the power of love, but it takes a step of faith to trust the love that she has found.

Of course, in the end, I do trust that love. I trust it to raise my grandson. I trust it to sustain my daughter. I have accepted our son-in-law as our own and he is an important member of our family. They will celebrate their 10th wedding anniversary this week. It doesn’t work for us to be with them on that day, but we recognize the strength of their relationship and the hard work that they have invested in building a family together. It is a love that can be trusted.

It was good to make this visit - to see them in their home and to explore a bit of the area around that home. It was good to learn a bit more about the story of our country and correct some of the misinformation that we had. It was good to be reminded once again that there is far more to this country than the scope of our personal experience. It was good to be reminded that there is far more to the power of love than what we have seen with our own eyes.

Moving on, we will remember and we will continue to be open to learning more and more.

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