Monday, January 18, 2010

Images of the Hanging Rock Battlefield

Previously, I made the case that the battle of Hanging Rock was fought on a height south of where present-day Flat Rock Road crosses Hanging Rock Creek, and on a neighboring hill. A map that I presented in that post appears below. The red circles show the locations of the three British camps. The circle nearest the upper right represents the encampment of Samuel Bryan's North Carolina Volunteers, the circle below and to the left of this point represents the encampment of the British Legion infantry and the Royal North Carolina Regiment (this is also known as the center camp), and the circle nearest the bottom represents the encampment of the Prince of Wales' American Regiment (PoWAR). These British forces guarded the Camden Road (the brown line; this followed approximately the same path as today's Flat Rock Road).

Topographic maps provide an imperfect sense of place; it helps that one can take a virtual tour of Revolutionary War battlefields using Google Earth. Below are several screen shots I made of the approximate site of the center camp and the PoWAR camp, as seen from Flat Rock Road.

The Flat Rock Road, near the site of the center camp. The view is northwest; the crest of the elevation is to the right. Near the trees in the middle ground, the road slopes steeply downwards and turns towards the north. The British post at Hanging Rock was designed to prevent the Americans from coming down this road (i.e., towards the viewer).

The same location, but looking in the opposite direction (i.e., southeast). The area near Hanging Rock is hilly and cut by numerous ravines. This relatively flat plateau was attractive to early settlers.

The same location, looking northeast. The crest of the height is at the right edge of the image, a short distance behind the trees. The profile of the slope can be made out in the distance. William Davie claimed that "the regular troops [actually, Provincials] could not be approached without an entire exposure of the assailants." The slope is gentle enough that this land may well have been cleared by settlers prior to the battle. A nearby stream would have helped make this site attractive. If this interpretation is correct, one can understand Davie's apprehension: The direct approach to Hanging Rock would have led the American troops to advance up this slope from the left towards the British infantry and two 3-pounder guns on the right. To circumvent this danger, the Americans chose to attack the center camp on its flank.

Much of the area around Hanging Rock is woodland today, just as it was in 1780. Today the area is covered by second-growth forest, but the mix of deciduous and coniferous trees one finds in the area today is probably not unlike the original forest.

This image (looking east) was taken near the site of the PoWAR's camp (the lower red circle). The Flat Rock Road is in the foreground; the road heading into the background passes near the Hanging Rock. The distant trees are on the Hanging Rock Battlefield Property. The historical marker at right is for the James Ingram house. To read the marker, click here; the site of the John Ingram house can be seen on Mills' 1825 map of Kershaw District; note the proximity to the marked site of the battle of Hanging Rock.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for the hard work you put in to revealing what this battle field would have looked like. This has been the most helpful of all of the sites dealing with this particular battle that I have found.