Banastre Tarleton and the American Revolution

Essay by NiStaHigh School, 10th grade November 2002

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Banastre Tarleton was a renowned British officer who fought for Great Britain in the American Revolution. Nicknamed "The Butcher", he was notorious and reviled by his colonial adversaries.

Tarleton was born in Liverpool, England on August 20th, 1754. When he was 19, his father died, left him a fortune, which he foolishly spent on petty personal items. After living the good life, Tarleton decided to enlist in the British army and his successes are legendary.

In 1776, Tarleton volunteered for service in America, to suppress the Revolution. He joined the ongoing war, during the first British siege of Charleston. This was ultimately an unsuccessful siege, making Tarleton's first military campaign a failure. Soon after, Tarleton traveled to New York, attracting the attention of his superiors with his bold and daring style in combat.

On Friday the 13th in December 1776, Tarleton and his superior Harcourt rode in search of Charles Lee, an American general.

They were successful in capturing him, bringing Tarleton even more popularity among his peers and the British senior staff. He was rewarded for his prowess with a promotion to Lieutenant Colonel.

In April 1777, the British mounted a second attempt at toppling Charleston. This British attempt was successful and victory was secured quite easily. A number of Virginian colonial troops had been sent to aid in the fight, but upon hearing the news of Charleston's fall, they retreated north. Tarleton was dispatched to pursue the retreating colonials and capture them. Tarleton soon caught up with the American soldiers and unleashed a vicious attack against them. The commander of the Virginians was Colonel Abraham Buford. After witnessing the mounting casualties among his troops, Buford surrendered. What happened next was a controversial and dark moment for the Americans and British alike. According to Tarleton, his horse was...