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Musgrove's Mill

South Carolina  |  Aug 18, 1780

In the spring of 1780, the British captured the city of Charleston, giving them almost complete control over South Carolina. Seeking to undermine the occupation of their state, Patriot guerillas, who were already engaged in a bloody civil war with Loyalist partisans, began striking their enemy’s outposts in the back-country.

On the morning of August 19, 200 mounted Patriots arrived near Musgrove’s Mill, the key to the local grain supply and the site of a Tory outpost. The Patriot force consisted of Georgians under Colonel Elijah Clarke, South Carolinians under Colonel James Williams, and a group of “Over Mountain Men” from present-day Tennessee commanded by Colonel Isaac Shelby.

The Patriots revealed their presence when several of their scouts clashed with a Loyalist patrol. Two Rebels were wounded in the brief clash. Falling back, the Patriots encountered a friendly farmer who informed them that, contrary to their initial intelligence, the Tory garrison had been reinforced and now consisted of 500 men.

Outnumbered, and having lost the element of surprise, the Patriots formed up on a ridge top overlooking the road to Musgrove’s Mill and threw up a make-shift breastwork. A small detachment under the command of Captain Shadrach Inman was dispatched to lure the enemy into an ambush.

Inman crossed a ford over the Enoree River and engaged the Loyalists before falling back to the main Patriot line. Taking the bait, the Tories pursued him.

The Rebels were ordered to hold fire until they “could distinguish the buttons” on the clothes of the approaching Loyalists, who were commanded by Colonel Alexander Innes. When Innes’s men were within 70 yards, the Patriots open fired with devastating effect. Yet the Tories kept their nerve, and fixing bayonets, advanced on the Patriots’ right flank, which was held by Shelby’s men. Lacking bayonets with which to defend themselves in hand-to-hand combat, the frontiersmen fell back.

Attempting to relieve some of the pressure on the imperiled Patriot line, Colonel Clarke attacked the enemy’s right flank. At around the same time, one of Shelby’s men shot and wounded Innes, who fell from his horse. The Over Mountain Men” rallied and returned to the fray as the Loyalists began to waver and then withdraw. The Patriots pressed home their attack, and the Loyalist retreat transformed into a rout.

Although the battle only lasted for about an hour, the Loyalists suffered heavy casualties. While the Patriots losses were fairly light.Before they could follow up on their success, however. the Patriot commanders learned of Horatio Gates’s defeat at Camden and decided to disperse their forces. Nonetheless, the Battle of Musgrove’s Mill signaled that resistance to British rule had not been snuffed out.

 

All battles of the Southern Theater 1780 - 1783 Campaign

Rev War  |  Battle
Charleston
South Carolina  |  Mar 29 - May 12, 1780
Result: British Victory
Est. Casualties: 5,764
American: 5,506
British: 258
Rev War  |  Battle
Monck's Corner
South Carolina  |  Apr 14, 1780
Result: British Victory
Est. Casualties: 102
American: 99
British: 3
Rev War  |  Battle
Lenud's Ferry
Berkeley, SC  |  May 6, 1780
Result: British Victory
Est. Casualties: 41
American: 41
Rev War  |  Battle
Waxhaws
South Carolina  |  May 29, 1780
Result: British Victory
Est. Casualties: 333
American: 316
British: 17
Rev War  |  Battle
Williamson's Plantation
South Carolina  |  Jul 12, 1780
Result: American Victory
Est. Casualties: 96
American: 1
British: 95
Rev War  |  Battle
Rocky Mount
South Carolina  |  Jul 30, 1780
Result: British Victory
Est. Casualties: 32
American: 12
British: 20
Rev War  |  Battle
Hanging Rock
South Carolina  |  Aug 6, 1780
Result: American Victory
Est. Casualties: 253
American: 53
British: 200
Rev War  |  Battle
Camden
South Carolina  |  Aug 16, 1780
Result: British Victory
Est. Casualties: 2,224
American: 1,900
British: 324
Rev War  |  Battle
Musgrove's Mill
South Carolina  |  Aug 18, 1780
Result: American Victory
Est. Casualties: 149
American: 16
British: 133
Rev War  |  Battle
Kings Mountain
South Carolina  |  Oct 7, 1780
Result: American Victory
Est. Casualties: 1,211
American: 90
British: 1,121
Rev War  |  Battle
Blackstocks Farm
Union, SC  |  Nov 20, 1780
Result: American Victory
American: 7
British: 192
Rev War  |  Battle
Rugeley's Mill
South Carolina  |  Dec 4, 1780
Result: American Victory
Rev War  |  Battle
Hammond's Store
South Carolina  |  Dec 30, 1780
Result: American Victory
Est. Casualties: 150
British: 150
Rev War  |  Battle
Cowpens
South Carolina  |  Jan 17, 1781
Result: American Victory
Est. Casualties: 1,017
American: 149
British: 868
Rev War  |  Battle
Pyle's Defeat
North Carolina  |  Feb 25, 1781
Result: American Victory
Est. Casualties: 344
American: 1
British: 343
Rev War  |  Battle
Guilford Court House
North Carolina  |  Mar 15, 1781
Result: British Victory
Est. Casualties: 1,842
American: 1,310
British: 532
Rev War  |  Battle
Siege of Fort Watson
South Carolina  |  Apr 15 - 23, 1781
Result: Inconclusive
Est. Casualties: 116
American: 2
British: 114
Rev War  |  Battle
Hobkirk's Hill
South Carolina  |  Apr 25, 1781
Result: British Victory
Est. Casualties: 532
American: 271
British: 261
Rev War  |  Battle
Ninety Six
South Carolina  |  May 22 - Jun 19, 1781
Result: British Victory
Est. Casualties: 232
American: 147
British: 85
Rev War  |  Battle
Parker's Ferry
Colleton, SC  |  Aug 30, 1781
Result: American Victory
Est. Casualties: 209
American: 4
British: 205
Rev War  |  Battle
Eutaw Springs
South Carolina  |  Sep 8, 1781
Result: British Victory
Est. Casualties: 1,461
American: 579
British: 882
Rev War  |  Battle
Dills Bluff
South Carolina  |  Nov 14, 1782
Result: British Victory
Est. Casualties: 15
American: 10
British: 5

Related Battles

SC | August 18, 1780
Result: American Victory
Commanders
Estimated Casualties
149
American
16
British
133