Battle of Musgrove’s Mill

Battle of Musgrove’s Mill

It was soon ascertained that the enemy were formed near the ford of the river with the intention of giving battle. A corresponding preparation took place among the Whigs. The command of Williams was placed in the centre. That of Shelby on the right and that of Clark on the left. At his own request Capt. Inman was sent forward with a party to skirmish with the enemy as they advanced. A flanking party of twenty-four men under the direction of Josiah Culbertson was sent out from Shelby’s command. Inman met the enemy at the moment they began to peep forward and gave them a hot reception. The word of command passed along the American line, “Reserve your fire until you can see the whites of their eyes!” Meanwhile, Inman’s command gradually fell back from place to place until the enemy made a general charge under the impression that they were driving the main body before them. Inman passed the American line and the main body of the British and Tories were rushing forward in the utmost confusion within seventy yards of their foes. A stream of fire revealed the hidden battalions of liberty. The British sank down in great numbers, the survivors recoiled, rallied and again pressed forward, but the fire from the American line continued with little abatement for one hour to thin their ranks, while their own produced little effect.

Culbertson’s party, under cover of trees, was pouring in a deadly fire upon the flank and rear. Innis and other leaders were shot down and the whole of the royal forces fell back in consternation. Capt. Inman immediately rallied a party and pursued the fugitives to the river, but this onset proved fatal to the gallant Inman. In this engagement the royal force exceeded that of the Americans by at least 300. The British lost sixty-three killed and 160 wounded and prisoners. The American loss was four killed and nine wounded.

The Whigs were greatly exhilarated by the result of this conflict. They mounted their horses with the determination of being at Ninety Six that night. At this moment an express arrived from Gen. McDowell. Shelby received a letter from Gen. McDowell, inclosing one for himself from Gov. Caswell dated on the battleground where Gates’s defeat occurred, giving an account of that disastrous engagement. McDowell advised Shelby and his companions to provide for their own safety. This intelligence led to a change of operations. It was necessary to avoid Ferguson’s army, which lay between them and McDowell. And there was a strong probability that Ferguson would lose no time in pursuing.