During the Revolutionary War, a time of darkness settled over South Carolina as hope for independence began to fade. It was during this time that a man living along Bush River made a promise to the love of his life. He told her as he joined the cause, that he would return for her, alive or dead. A year later, he made good on his promise…
Henry Galbreath was a courageous man. He was also well versed in the terrain around Bush River and South Carolina in general. He was also a man in love. His heart belonged to a beautiful girl named Charity. Because he was wanted by the Tories in the area, Henry could only visit Charity at night, stealing away to a meeting point where they could be together until the morning when he would be forced to leave her once more.
One night, as the clouds raced past the moon, he told her he was joining the continental army. “But no matter what,” he told her, “Dead or alive, I’ll be back to see you in a year”. Charity promised to wait for him. So in July of 1780 Henry Galbreath left to join the cause for freedom.
It is said he joined General Horatio Gates in the defeat at Camden. After which he supposedly joined Frances Marion, otherwise known as the “Swamp Fox” for a time before becoming a scout for William Washington’s cavalry where his knowledge of the countryside made him almost a legend in the British ranks as well as the Americans.
In January of 1781 the tide began to turn for the Americans. At the battle at Cowpens the British began to retreat in full barely an hour into the battle. As the British officers fled, one turned and fired a shot at a man on horseback giving chase. That bullet found its way into the heart of Henry Galbreath.
Henry’s love Charity knew nothing of his passing. As the day of his scheduled arrival dawned, her heart sang. She swept the floor and made breakfast for her father and brother. Every so often she would go to the door, looking for his horse to bring him down the road. The day eventually passed without word from her love.
She was awoken at around 2 o’clock the next morning she was awoken by the sound of horse hoofs. She listened as the sound got louder until it stopped right outside her door. She opened the front door to see a man on a beautiful horse. A dark blue robe hung from his shoulders. A light flashed twice and off the horse and rider went, back down the rode where they disappeared from sight.
The next day Charity and her family searched in vain for proof the rider had been there. No prints were ever found. Charity knew it was Henry making good on his promise to come back dead or alive. The British never again won a real victory in the south. General Cornwallis eventually went to Virginia where he would surrender.
As for the “Ghost rider of Bush River”, it is said on moonless nights you can hear horse hoofs start at the battlefield of Cowpens and continue to Bush River up to a spot where long ago a man spent time with the woman he loved… even in death.