Musgrove Mill: Ray of Hope | The Southern Campaign


[WATER RUSHING] [MUSKET SHOTS] [FIFE AND DRUM MUSIC PLAYING] NARRATOR: In the back country
during the summer of 1780, Revolutionary War
fighting was relentless. Whenever Redcoats or
Tories were in the area, it was the job of the Patriot
militia to drive them out. For every major disaster,
like Waxhaws or Camden, there were dozens of partisan
victories in skirmishes or smaller battles
like Huck’s Defeat. Militiamen hiding behind
trees would take deadly aim at British and
Loyalist soldiers. Often British officers
were targeted. This was a fight
with no holds barred. August 19th, 1780– three days
after the Battle of Camden, another battle was fought. British provincials
from Ninety Six were camped near Edward
Musgrove’s grist mill on the Enoree River,
many recuperating from wounds received at the
Battle of Cedar Springs. It was a strategic position,
because there was a ford here, and it was easy for the British
troops to get from Ninety Six up to what is now Spartanburg. It was very important. And the Patriot militia decided
that they would take it back. NARRATOR: The Patriots
included Isaac Shelby from Over the Mountain,
in what is now Tennessee; Elijah Clarke
with his Wilkes County, Georgia militia;
and local units, like the Little River
militia commanded by James Williams, and the
second Spartan militia, or Fairforest Group
led by Thomas Brandon. Unfortunately, as the Patriots
assembled on August 18th, they were spotted
by a Tory patrol, so the element of
surprise was lost. Outnumbered two to
one, the Patriots sent a raiding party to the
river ford to draw the enemy up to a wooded ridge where their
marksmen would be waiting. To prepare the site, they
chopped down trees and piled up underbrush to hide behind. They set up a ridge on
the other side of the river. And they sent a young man by
the name of Shadrack Innman from Georgia. He and his men came
toward the British camp and kept attacking. And eventually, the British
decided that they’d better come out and fight. NARRATOR: American soldiers in
the Revolutionary War carried either a musket or a rifle. In general, regular soldiers
who fought mostly in lines were issued muskets. Well, in the
American Revolution, the musket was the primary
firearm of the day. It was unlike the rifle. The musket was designed
as a smooth bore weapon. And its intent was to
not aim at something and hit a target
like a rifle, but it was for a group of men
to point their muskets in a certain direction and
lost a large volume of bullets in a direction, not aiming
it at a single individual, but aiming at another army. So accuracy was
not as important. The important
aspect of the musket is that it could be loaded
from three to five times in a minute, versus
two times for a rifle. So in many cases, after
a few rounds of musketry. A bayonet would be fixed,
and the opposing army would be charged
with the bayonet. NARRATOR: The weapon of choice
for militiamen was the rifle. OK, the rifle is pretty much
everything the musket is not. It’s a lot less robust a weapon. It’s a lot slimmer
on the barrel. It fires the same
way as a musket. It is very, very
accurate though. The barrel is grooved,
which is called rifling, the same as a modern rifle. And what it will
take– a patch ball– and take that ball and spin
it, just like a modern bullet. Makes it have a range
of some 300 yards. And you can hit practically
anything you could see. It took a full minute to
load this rifle, which put it at a disadvantage
in the battlefield. Because if the British
were coming after you with muskets and bayonets, they
could approach your position in a whole lot less
time than a minute. They could be on
you with a bayonet. One thing you don’t
see on the rifle, you cannot put a bayonet on it. This is a civilian weapon. NARRATOR: The Patriot
rifleman at Musgrove Mill zeroed in on the
loyalist provincials who were chasing Captain
Innman’s men up the hill. Our line extended at
least 300 yards in length, waiting the enemy’s approach. They advanced within 200 yards
and formed a line of battle and moved on within the
distance of 150 yards and began a very heavy fire. NARRATOR: The loyalists began
firing uphill at the Americans well before they were
within effective range of their muskets. I gave orders that
not a man should fire until the enemy came
within point blank shot, not to fire until the enemy was
within 80 yards distance, and that every man
take his object sure. When they got close
enough, the militia fired from the trees and
behind rocks and all. At one point in
the battle there, the commander, who was the
provincial, Colonel Innes, was shot through the neck
and fell to the ground. And the word came
along the Patriot line, we’ve killed our commander. By that time, all of
the British officers and all of the Loyalist officers
on this field except one had been killed or wounded. The British troops panicked, as
well as the Loyalist militia, and they turned and ran. When they ran, they presented
their backs to the militia and the militia
shot many of them when they were
attempting to escape. NARRATOR: The Patriots
lacked the manpower to chase the provincials as
they headed south to Ninety Six. Also, because the news of
the Continental Army’s defeat at Camden had just
been reported, local militia men wanted
to stay home and protect their families. Musgrove Mill and
similar encounters proved that Huck’s Defeat
had not been a fluke. The British forces
were not omnipotent. [GUNFIRE, YELLING] The result of this
battle was to lift the morale of the Patriots at a
time when it was sorely needed. The smaller battles
and skirmishes that were fought
in South Carolina redefined the way
battles were being fought and the military tactics. Unload! Before they left,
the three of them, Shelby, Williams, and Clarke,
decided that this was the way to handle the British army. That in the future
they would not attempt to take on the
British by themselves. They would keep in touch. And if one were threatened,
they would all come. The British had a grand plan
with the Southern campaign. But it failed in
many cases because of the stubborn resistance
of the backcountry folk to the British
army of occupation. And every partisan victory
in the backcountry, whether it was Huck’s Defeat or
Cedar Springs or Thicketty Fort or Musgrove’s Mill, was an
advantage to the Americans. Because that meant that
potential Loyalists were going to think twice about
signing up with the British. It also meant that
if you’re winning, people are going to
join up with you. It also completely shuts
down any kind of intelligence network the British might have. Present! Fire! [GUNFIRE]

1 thought on “Musgrove Mill: Ray of Hope | The Southern Campaign

  1. you could load a musket 3 to 5 times a minute and miss every time but you could load a rifle once a minute and hit every shot.

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