Camp New Providence historical marker

Camp New Providence (L-110)

Encampment, Oct.-Dec. 1780, of N.C. militia & Continental Army, where Patriots laid plans to confront Cornwallis. Site was just west of here.

Location: NC 16 (Providence Road) at Six Mile Creek southeast of Charlotte
County: Mecklenburg
Original Date Cast: 2009

Following the defeat of General Horatio Gates’s army at Camden, South Carolina, in August 1780, Continental forces in the South were in shambles. By late September, Gen. Charles Cornwallis’s British forces had penetrated into south central North Carolina and fought skirmishes against local Patriot forces at Wauchope’s Plantation and Charlotte. In early October, after an expeditionary wing of Cornwallis’s army led by Lt. Col. Patrick Ferguson was defeated at King’s Mountain, the British retreated back into South Carolina.

Between October and December 1780, the Americans took the opportunity provided by Cornwallis’s departure to regroup their army at a winter encampment near Charlotte called Camp New Providence. The number of men in the camp ranged from 1,300 to 2,600 and consisted of both militia and Continental forces. Most of the major historical players in the Southern Campaign, including Generals Horatio Gates, William Smallwood, and Daniel Morgan, as well as lesser known but equally important figures such as Otho Holland Williams, John Eager Howard, and Thaddeus Kosciuszko, were stationed there.

The significance of the site lies in the fact that there, on November 25, 1780, senior officers of the Southern Department of the Continental Army met to develop a strategy to respond to Cornwallis’s impending invasion of North Carolina. Decisions made at the meeting led to the Battle of Cowpens, perhaps the most complete American victory of the war.

Markers are in place for several other Patriot encampments in North Carolina, among them Troublesome Ironworks in Rockingham County. Nathanael Greene’s encampment at Troublesome in February and March of 1781 was of a shorter duration, with nearly twice the men, but included the very same forces that were encamped at Camp New Providence. The encampment at Troublesome can be seen as culmination of the events which began the site in question since Greene’s victory in defeat at Guilford Courthouse originated in strategies developed at Camp New Providence in November 1780.

Richard K. Showman, et al., Papers of General Nathanael Greene (16 volumes)
Don Higginbotham, Daniel Morgan, Revolutionary Rifleman (1961)
John Buchanan, The Road To Guilford Courthouse (1997)
Charles Stedman, The History of the Origin, Progress, and Termination of the American War (1794)
Banastre Tarleton, History of the Campaigns of 1780-1781 in the Southern Provinces of North America (1787)

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