Cavalry After Action Report
Blackstock Plantation 2005
by Ron Crawley

 As a 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.

Reenactors 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.

Saturday's 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.

Living 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.

Attendance was 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.

South Carolina 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.

Ron Crawley
3rd Continental Dragoons

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