On our recent camping trip, we visited the site of the Revolutionary War Battle of Eutaw Springs (September, 1781).
I don’t care to glorify war or to honor entities who cannot find a civilized way to settle conflict. I do have a heart for the young men (and more recently women) who out of honestly held beliefs or desperate situations are the ones to lay down their lives on the front lines of battles. Wars should be remembered for them, and for lessons in peace gleaned from wars’ folly.
I thought i would write a few lines about what happened that autumn day at Eutaw Springs, but it’s a litany of boring dates and names of leaders who dragged their troops into death, maiming, and heartbreak. Not really worth repeating. As a matter of fact, both sides — the British and the Americans — even claimed to have won this, the last major engagement in the war in the Carolinas.
On this quiet, beautiful river bank, miles and miles from anywhere, four thousand men from two armies met in brutal battle. They blew each other apart from close range with muskets and canons for three hours and finished off the job with sabers and bayonets.
Heavy rain prevented continuation of the fighting, and having lost a third of his men, Stewart marched back to British-held Charleston.
In the end 500 Americans and 700 British lay dead in this bloody clearing, with many more wounded.
We stood at the foot of trees weighted down with purple wisteria, no sounds but the birds, no odor but the floral perfume, and tried to imagine the carnage that happened here.