In the decades after the Revolution, the woodland surrounding the battlefield was gradually converted to farm fields and pasture. In 1845, James A. Witherspoon led an effort to raise money for a grave monument and recorded several first-hand accounts.
"Mr. Usher whose father, in company with the Rev. Jacob Carnes, and others assisted in burying the dead, states that 84, as well as he recollects who were killed on the day of battle were buried in one large pit or grave, and that 25 who died of their wounds the next day were buried in another grave about 300 yards distant from the others.
James A. Witherspoon, Camden Journal, June 18, 1845
Plans for the monument were not realized until 1860, when prominent Charleston sculptor, William T. White, was commissioned to design and create the marble obelisk, which marks the grave.
?????The Buford Monument Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church was built on this site in 1894. The church only lasted about five years in this location and later moved to the Pleasant Hill community. There are several marked and unmarked graves from this period. In 1946, A.R.P. Synod deeded Lancaster County two acres surrounding the mass grave for use as a public park. This tract was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1990.
Archaeologists Tell the Story
In 2005, the South Carolina Department of Transportation planned safety improvements at the intersection of SC Route 9 and SC Route 522. For decades, historians had debated the exact location of the Waxhaws battlefield. Archaeologists quickly determined that battlefield evidence extended well outside the two-acre tract containing the mass grave. During a more intensive 2010 study, archaeologists recovered numerous musket balls, gun parts, and uniform accoutrements extending from this area east across SC 522. Careful analysis revealed this was Colonel Buford's battle line that was overwhelmed by Tarleton's troopers. The 84 Virginia Continentals were buried here close to where they fell on May 29, 1780.
(Map and Photo Caption)
Archaeologists glean a wealth of knowledge from battlefield artifacts. Through careful study of musket balls, buttons, gun parts, etc., they can determine troop locations, weapons used, and even where individuals were killed. Context, or careful documentation of where these artifacts were found, allows archaeologists to reach these conclusions.
?????The map above shows the artifact distribution. Careful scrutiny reveals how and where the battle was fought, shedding new light on an event that took place long ago. These artificats tell a powerful story about the battle that took place here.