More Revolutionary War battles were fought in South Carolina than any other state. About 200 engagements occurred in the state, according to the National Park Service.

“The Revolutionary War may have started in Massachusetts, it may have ended in Virginia, but the Revolutionary War surely was won right here in South Carolina,” said S.C. Sen. Vincent Sheheen (D-Camden).

Several decisive battles were fought in the Camden area, which Sheheen represents. Those battlefields will be part of the Liberty Trail, which will connect significant Revolutionary War sites throughout the state with interactive, interpretive information for visitors.

Tuesday’s announcement of the Liberty Trail initiative comes as South Carolina begins plans to commemorate the 250th anniversary of the Revolutionary War. The South Carolina American Revolution Sesquicentennial Commission was created by the Legislature to work on commemorative events.

An interpretive sign at Battle of Camden site in Camden, part of the planned Liberty Trail. (Photo/Brian Keeley)

An interpretive sign at Battle of Camden site in Camden, part of the planned Liberty Trail. (Photo/Brian Keeley)

The Liberty Trail is a joint effort between the South Carolina Battleground Preservation Trust and the American Battlefield Trust, which work to preserve historic battle sites and inform the public of their historic significance. Some South Carolina history enthusiasts say the state’s Revolutionary War history is not well-known, even among Palmetto State natives.

“It’s here that the Revolutionary War was won,” said S.C. Gov. Henry McMaster. “That’s a fact little discussed by history. But we in South Carolina can take great pride in the part our ancestors played in the Revolutionary War. The more we know about history, the stronger we become and the better we can do in the future. It’s essential that we know our history, and ours is a glorious history.”

The goal is to create an interactive history experience that tells the story of the war in South Carolina through a series of outdoor classrooms. The trail will be 400 miles long, extending from the coast to the mountains, and feature 70 sites, including 16 park sites and 14 roadside pull-offs.

“Technology will tie it all together,” said James Lighthizer, president of the American Battlefield Trust.

An app is in development including GPS technology to provide interpretation of the sites and information for travelers interested in visiting them. Since the app also will include information on local restaurants and hotels, there will be opportunities for businesses to be included.

“It will give you a suggested itinerary to go visit, where to visit, where to stay and where to eat,” said Doug Bostick, executive director and CEO of the South Carolina Battleground Trust. “It’s going to be a one-of-a-kind app. Nobody in the United States has attempted this with so many sites to connect them all.”

Bostick expects the app to be functional in late 2020.

“While this is to preserve history, commemorate history, this is also the biggest economic engine that South Carolina has, and that’s heritage tourism,” he said.

The National Park Service has provided $2.5 million in matching grants through the American Battlefield Protection Program for land preservation projects associated with the Liberty Trail. The initiative aims to preserve an additional 2,500 acres of former battle sites.

Plans are underway to preserve 300 acres of battlefield in Camden battlefield, including the addition of a $5 million visitor’s center and walking trails.

“Especially in our rural communities and small towns, where economies are hurting, this is a great opportunity to bring people from all over the world and our nation to our communities to tell our story about the American Revolution, and let them do some shopping, some dining, spend the night, and help boost our economy,” Sheheen said.

Because of his personal connection to Camden, Sheheen said it’s important for him to help tell the story of South Carolina’s role in America’s independence.

“South Carolina’s history for so long has been focused and talked about only in the context of the Civil War,” Sheheen said. “But the Revolutionary War is really something that brings us all together. South Carolina is where the Revolutionary War, our American war for independence, was won. We’ve ignored that story for too long. It’s time we told the nation — that we told the world — that Francis Marion was here. That Andrew Jackson was here. That people black, white, young and old, rich and poor fought and died in South Carolina.”

Several of the speakers at the unveiling of the Liberty Trail project this week at the Governor’s Mansion said telling the story of the American Revolution in South Carolina can unite citizens at a time of controversy and discord.

“Everybody fought in this war,” Bostick said. There were women patriots. There were African-American patriots. There are French that were here, Germans that were here.  It was an international thing in South Carolina. But this is the founding story of our country. It’s not the war that tried to tear apart the country. This is how America was created. And we think people will rally to this, will want to learn once again — or maybe for the first time — all of these stories.”