Cavalry After Action Report
young man, I was present in 1975 when the Musgrove Mill property was
turned over to the state of South Carolina, and politicians at that
event proudly predicted a State Park would soon be established. It took
over 25 years for their prediction to come to pass with the
establishment of the Musgrove Mill State Historic Site. Now, another
parcel of private property has been entrusted to the state with the
same hope of soon becoming a State Historic Site. William Blackstock's
Plantation, the site of Thomas Sumter's greatest victory, was formally
deeded to the South Carolina Department of Parks, Recreation, and
Tourism (SCDPRT) on November 19, 2005.
Denley Caughman, Henry McMillan, and myself braved frigid temperatures
and spent Friday night encamped on a hilltop, thought to be Edward
Hampton's position during the battle 225 year earlier. We were
accompanied by two of my daughters, Hunter (9) and Taylor (5), who
complained less about the cold than their elders, and probably enjoyed
the camping experience more. The field before us was littered with
markers from a recent archaeological dig by the South Carolina
Institute of Archeology and Anthropology. In fact, one red flag marker
was later located inside one of the tents hastily set up in the
darkness! In the morning, we discovered our water containers had frozen
solid. Henry, who was the only one of our number who decided to "rough
it" by the fire rather than retreat to a tent, was found with a thick
covering of frost. Of course, our horses, with heavy winter coats, made
it through the night just fine.
dedication ceremony began with a welcome by Brigadier General George
Fields, USA Ret. George had long been a driving force in making the
acquisition of Blackstock's a reality and serves as the Military
Heritage Director of the Palmetto Conservation Foundation (PCF).
Remarks from contributors included Rebecca Winn of International Paper,
Donny Betenbaugh from the Union County Council, Eric Holland of the
Timken Foundation, and Col. William Whitener of the Union County
Historical Society. After an address by Phil Gaines, Director of State
Parks, the deed was officially transferred from PCF to SCDPRT. The
ceremony concluded with a reenactment of General Thomas Sumter by
Howard Burnham, perhaps the most entertaining portion of the program.
historians from the 2nd South Carolina Regiment, the New Acquisition
Militia, and the 3d Continental Light Dragoons portraying McCall's
State Troops were a welcome addition to the Saturday festivities. The
dragoons displayed some of the skills required of the mounted arm by
charging head and ring posts with swords. Afterwards, the militia
provided an excellent firing demonstration. Both demonstrations were
accompanied by oral presentations, including question and answer
periods, for the spectators, estimated by park officials to number
about 100 persons.
much lighter on Sunday for the ceremony honoring the anniversary of the
battle, probably due to the threat of rain that never amounted to more
than a temporary "drizzle" at the site. Representatives from the Daniel
Morgan Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR), the
Fairforest, Henry Laurens, and Kate Barry Chapters of the DAR, as well
as the Children of the American Revolution, Children of the American
Colonists, and Sons of the American Colonists were all present to lay a
wreath at the monument, as members of the SC Independent Rangers, a
local militia unit, helped out with a ceremonial salute to the men that
fought at Blackstock's Plantation.
State Park officials were pleased with the weekend. Interpretive Ranger
Brian Robeson said, "In all, it was a very successful weekend, and we
hope to do another event out there before too long." Future events
would please the reenactors, many of who indicted a desire to continue
to support the park. Long-term plans include developing the site into
an interpretive park with kiosks, panels, brochures, and hiking trails.
Now, if we can just do it in less than 25 years this time.
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