(by Jud Hair, edited by, and all responsibility for errors, ye webmeister, FOC) Musgrove's Mill was one of the many obscure engagements for which accurate records pertaining to the fight are rare. But it was nevertheless a brilliant victory for the Americans.
It came just a few days after the two terrible American losses at Camden and Fishing Creek. Still, those who fought at Musgrove's Mill were not inspired nor discouraged by the situation because, communications being what they were in those days, the combatants at Musgrove's Mill didn't even know about Gates' defeat at Camden.
The Battle of Musgrove Mills took place in what is now southern Spartanburg County in Aug, 1780, just days after Camden. The Patriot forces were led by Col. Isaac Shelby. and much like the organizational structure at Kings Mountain later, Shelby's forces were made up of several smaller units with individual commanders. They probably totaled no more than 250, although some estimates say as many as 750.
They planned to attack and disperse a band of Tories of similar size (though some records say much larger) at Musgrove's Mill, on the Enoree River, but when they got there, they found that the Tories had been reinforced with about 100 extra men who were better trained and equipped than the first 200. NOTE: These men, though better soldiers and attired in redcoats, were apparently not British regulars. They were recruited and trained in this country. And we hasten to point out, after Morgan and Greene finished mauling them, they were about to need to recruit a lot more!
Shelby decided to try to lure the Tories into attacking him at a prepared defensive position. Unfortunately, Shelby lost the element of surprise when he was discovered and engaged in a brief skirmish.
At that point, Shelby and his main force fell back a short distance and created a defensive line within sight of the Torey force. Patriot units were led by Lt. Cols. Elijah Clarke of Georgia and James Williams of South Carolina.
The Patriots were successful in goading the Tories into an attack.
After a fierce back and forth exchange, the British leader of the Tories was shot from his horse and the redcoated provincial troops began to fall back. This caused the other less seasoned Tories to waver and allowed the Americans to take the initiative. It became a rout and only ended when the fleeing Tories reached and crossed the Enoree River.
At that point, news of Gates' defeat arrived along with the fact that Major Patrick Furguson was nearby. They decided to retreat with their prisoners and reportedly missed being caught by Furguson by less than 30 minutes.
The Americans suffered 4 killed and 8-9 wounded, while the British had 63 killed, 90 wounded and 76 captured. It was a decisive win and one of the few times American militia defeated trained British professionals.
This modified description originated from Battleground: South Carolina in the Revolution by Warren Ripley, Evening Post Publishing 1983
Return to Turning Point
Return to SC Revolutionary War Outline Page
Return to Genweb South Carolina Home Page
1Thanks to Jud Hair, who describes himself as "an amateur enthusiast with a great deal of background through reading and multiple visits to most of the important sites in SC and NC." Jud for useful commentary and pointing out a factual inaccuracy.
Copyright ©1999, Dr. Frank Oliver Clark. These documents may be freely used for private purposes, and included in your own genealogy. However, this document is copyrighted and may not be sold, nor given to anyone who may attempt to derive profit from same. Please send any errors, corrections, conjectures, updates, etc. to Dr. Frank O. Clark.
Please inform me of errors and corrections, and parts that may be improved.