Letter - Commemoration of battle
Two hundred-thirty seven years ago, a special event on the road to American independence from Great Britain occurred at Edward Musgrove’s mill. This special event occurred shortly after a most disastrous event occurred at Camden, SC.
At the direction of Patriot General William McDowell, Colonels Isaac Shelby, Elijah Clark, and James Williams gathered two hundred mounted men and rode all night from their camp on the Broad River to engage two hundred British Loyalists (Tories) camped at Musgrove’s mill on the Enoree River. Williams and his men were from the Ninety-Six District and familiar with the roads and terrain.
Arriving near the Enoree River crossing at the mill, the Colonels were informed that three hundred British Provincials (Americans trained by the British and who fought like the British) under a Colonel Innes had joined the Tory camp. Exhausted and hungry from the all-night ride, the Patriots, sitting on exhausted horses, decided on a plan to attack the Tory camp. An additional fear preventing attempting a retreat was a lack of intelligence concerning the immediate location of Major Patrick Ferguson and his thousand plus Tories.
An outstanding plan of baiting and defending resulted in a Patriot victory over a larger Tory-British force. The exhilarating victory was short lived as word came by an express rider telling of the defeat of the Southern Continental Army by the British at the battle of Camden. This defeat and the fear of Major Ferguson and his Tories lead to a hasty withdrawal by the Patriots. Clark returned to Georgia, Shelby returned to Western North Carolina and Williams returned to Hillsboro, North Carolina.
The victory at Musgrove Mill resulted in Colonial Williams being promoted to Brigadier General and receiving $25,000.00 from the State of North Carolina to raise 100 mounted troops. The demonstrated ability to stand and fight against a superior force also set the stage for a Patriot victory in less than two months over Major Ferguson and his Tories at Kings Mountain.
As General George Washington wrote his General Order of October 27, 1780, concerning the victory at Kings Mountain, he included, “We have only to regret that the brave Col. Williams was mortally wounded.”
Saturday, August 19, 2017, at 10 a.m., we will celebrate the 237th year after the Patriot victory at the Musgrove Mill State Park. Please come and join us.
Charles W. McKinney, Sr.,
Secretary, the Gen. James Williams Chapter, SCSSAR