Horseshoe Falls at Musgrove Mill State Historic Site – Clinton, South Carolina - Atlas Obscura

Horseshoe Falls at Musgrove Mill State Historic Site

Clinton, South Carolina

Legend has it the mill owner's daughter, Mary Musgrove, helped a Patriot soldier hide behind these falls. 


Stories abound at Musgrove Mill, the site of a brief but pivotal Revolutionary War battle fought in the woods of South Carolina. In a surprising victory, the Patriot militia defeated the Loyalists and British soldiers at the Battle of Musgrove Milldespite being greatly outnumbered. It was a much-needed morale boost for the Patriots and marked a turning point in the war.

Today, the historic area is rich with local legends that intermix with the very real events that took place at this colonial gristmill over two centuries ago. One such tale is the legend behind Horseshoe Falls, a series of small cascades on the Cedar Shoals Creek that runs into the Enoree River.

According to legend, the mill owner’s daughter, Mary Musgrove, helped hide a Patriot soldier in a small cave near the falls, obscured by the plunging water. The soldier’s name was Galbraith “Horseshoe” Robinson, so nicknamed because he worked as a blacksmith. Together they gathered information about the British Loyalist troops, which helped the Patriots plan an attack.

In real life, the heroine of that legend, Mary Musgrove, was the daughter of Edward Musgrove, who owned the mill and lived at the site with his family. Little is actually known about Mary’s life, but she went down in history thanks to a dramatic account of her story in the popular 19th-century historical fiction novel Horse-shoe Robinson by John Pendleton Kennedy.

In the novel, Mary’s character helps the soldier, Horseshoe, spy for the Patriots. The book was so popular, the story of the fictional Mary survived the years, and today Mary Musgrove serves as a symbol of the brave contributions made by many women during the war. There is a monument to her at Musgrove Mill, a tribute to the heroines of the American Revolution.

Know Before You Go

Horseshoe Falls can be seen along the Battlefield Trail at the Musgrove Mill State Historic Site. The trail is an easy 1.3 miles, starting at the parking area on Horseshoe Falls Road. The falls are at the beginning of the trail, which then continues through the battlefield. They are accessible by an ADA boardwalk that leads to an overlook. The historic site includes a Visitor Center, nature trails, picnic areas, and interpretive signs with historic information. The site is open daily from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. 

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