Thursday, January 5, 2012

Musgrove Mill State Historic Site Horseshoe Falls and Battlefield Trail

Click Here for the Index of This Series

The Enoree River’s division of Musgrove Mill State Historic Site into two sections must complicate the lives of Park Staff. It’s also something Park visitors should keep in mind.

google mapHere’s a map from Google that indicates the route from the Visitors Center [The A on the map] to the parking lot in the north section of the Park [The B on the map]. During my first visit I didn’t realize just how far north I had to travel along Route 56 before making the sharp left onto Horseshoe Falls Road, and missed it. The turn is just over two miles up Route 56. And then it’s 1.5 miles back toward the River on Horseshoe Falls Road to the Parking Lot. Lots of interesting things to see along Horseshoe Fall Road, though.

Here’s your destination. The parking lot and informational sign maintained by Park staff. All spic and span when I visited. Only one car other than mine in the lot.

In the last post I mentioned that the British Camp Trail isn’t wheeled-vehicle friendly throughout. The same holds for this Battlefield Trail on the north side of the Park. But look at this! A wide paved, completely smooth area intended for wheelchair exit and entry from cars and vans. The best such facility I’ve seen at any State Park during my travels. My wheelchair-bound mother would have been tickled pink to have seen this.

And that’s not all. The trail, clear up to the Horseshoe Falls overlook is just as smooth. Made from the same material. Talk about accessibility!

This project must have cost a pretty penny. The plaque to the left of the trail notes it was done with support from the “Recreational Trails Program,” the “South Carolina State Trails Program,” and the “Federal Highway Administration.” Imagine how complex that project grant must have been to write and administer! Better them than me. The results are wonderful, though.

Here’s what you’ll see at the end of this paved section of the trail. An excellent view of Horseshoe Falls. And here’s a short video that gives a closer look:

As you can see in the video, there wasn’t much water flowing down the creek when I visited this time.

The Falls must look quite different with a stronger flow. A good excuse to come back to check again!

Don’t miss the informational signs along this trail. They look quite new. Even their images and maps are clear, easy to see. Maybe they were included in the grant proposal described at the trailhead! The text on these signs is chuck-full of information. Easy to read, and beautifully written. Wish I could write that concisely! So, take the time to read each one if you can.

Here’s an example of what you’ll learn. It’s easy to become confused with all of this talk about “Loyalist,” Provincial,” and “Patriot” troops. Well, this sign, and a couple of others, offers an artist’s interpretation of how the various combatants at Musgrove Mill would have looked, and how they were equipped.

The Provincial troops would stand out, with their red coats. But it would be easy to confuse Loyalist and Patriot militia, I’ll bet. Certainly the Patriots had an advantage in that it would be easier for them to blend in when they sought cover in the surrounding woods. Pity the poor Redcoats. Even if they were better equipped.

firearmsSpeaking of equipment, what sorts of weapons were used in the Battle of Musgrove Mill? Well, it seems there were several long guns. Both rifles and smoothbore muskets.

I’ve handled and used guns all my life. But didn’t realize the difference in firing rate between the long flintlock rifles we read so much about, and the “Brown Bess” muskets supplied to British troops. Accounts differ, but it seems that the Loyalists and Provincials fighting at Musgrove Mill were armed mostly with muskets. While the Patriot militia members had more of the longer, more accurate rifles. I’ll have to look more into this.

Moving along the Battlefield Trail, we encounter steps like those in the photo above. Definitely not convenient for scooters or wheelchairs. But a big help for walking hikers. None of the steps, or even the wooden bridges over boggy spots, were worn or broken. This trail is either quite new or receives regular maintenance.

Here and there along the trail the Park Service has kindly provided benches like the ones you see above. Usually only one bench beside the trail. But here we see three in a semicircle that could accommodate a fairly large group.

Stop and sit a while here if you have the time. Just to the left in the photo above the ground slopes off sharply into a gully. It makes a beautiful vantage point from which to enjoy these woods.

Not far from those benches is another informational sign. It marks the location of a short section of what archaeologists believe to be the roadbed of the original wagon road. I would have missed it had not a more knowledgeable fellow come along and pointed it out. Again, an indication of just how different this battlefield looks today.

This same fellow, by the way, knew all about trees and harvesting wood. I was surprised to learn how young the trees are. Even the big ones. The whole area, he said, has been logged and re-logged, probably several times.

Walking on, we approached the hill on which Patriot troops laid their trap for the Loyalists and Provincials encamped at Musgrove Mill. Here’s another of those excellent informational signs. The image on the right provides a simplified explanation of the order of battle. Patriot troops on either side of the road, awaiting the arrival of the Loyalists pursuing Captain Inman and his sharpshooters as they “fled” up the hill. Oh my.

And here’s the hill they had to climb. This hill may have been cleared at the time of the battle, since it is described in some of the contemporary sources as an “old Indian field.”

Patriot troops would have seen this view, looking down the hill toward the attacking Loyalists and Provincials. There’s some debate over the deployment of Patriot forces here. Did they construct barricades on either side of the wagon road? Or did they just rely on the surrounding woods for cover and concealment? It seems to me that the trap would have been more credible without the barricades. But that’s just an amateur guess.

We don’t even know the exact number of killed and wounded at the Battle of Musgrove Mill. But it’s certain that Captain Shadrach Inman was among the killed.

So there you have it. The Battle of Musgrove Mill. August 19, 1780. An important battle of the Southern Campaign of the Revolutionary War. One worthy of more attention, I believe, from our historians. I hope you will be able to visit the Site soon.

1 comment:

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