Thursday, Aug 9, 2012
Rekindling the Public’s Interest in Archeological Fieldwork
Chesnee, SC: On July 29, 2012 Cowpens National Battlefield hosted a special “After Hour’s Event” for local scholars in partnership with the Southeastern Archaeological Center (SEAC) to update the public on the results of their fieldwork to determine the precise location General Daniel Morgan’s pre-battle campsite. Fifty- three visitors attended the one hour event where Michael Seibert, SEAC archaeologist, led a discussion about NPS archeology and the methodology and results of this project.
For two weeks in May, a team of SEAC archeologists searched likely locations for artifacts of the camp but found very little evidence of the camp. Since there was additional funding available for field work, Seibert returned in July with two SEAC archeologists and utilized two local volunteer organizations the South Carolina Archaeological Society and the Treasure and Artifact Association of South Carolina. Siebert spoke about the challenges of uncovering evidence subsequent to the impacts of farming and frontier life in and around the campsite area following the Battle of Cowpens on January 17, 1781. He said, “To recover evidence of Morgan’s army on this section of the battlefield, we are sifting through more than 200 years of landscape transformation and looking for less than 24 hours of Revolutionary War history.”
Despite the challenges, Seibert’s volunteer team recovered more than 40 period items, mostly buckles and musket balls. The significance of the fieldwork however had more to do with the involvement of the volunteers and public interest. Two separate volunteer communities were involved in the effort, more than 27 participants over the course of two days. On the night of the event the park rekindled the public’s interest in archeological fieldwork at the battlefield.
John Slaughter, park Superintendent, noted that “Often we learn the most about OUR national parks through partnerships like this one with NPS experts and our local community.” He went on to say that “this event has relevancy to the broader NPS community as an example of involving our surrounding communities with the activities of our nation’s public places. It highlights what is unique about the NPS mission.”
Cowpens National Battlefield is the site of the American victory over the British on January 17, 1781. The park is located 10 miles west of Gaffney, SC, 3 miles east of Chesnee, SC at the intersection of Highways 11, 110 and 221-A. For GPS, the park address is: 4001 Chesnee Highway, Gaffney, SC 29341. For more information, call (864) 461-2828 or visit the park’s web page at www.nps.gov/cowp/.
About the National Park Service. More than 20,000 National Park Service employees care for America’s 395 national parks and work with communities across the nation to help preserve local history and create close-to-home recreational opportunities. Learn more at www.nps.gov.