Lt. Colonel Sir Banastre Tarleton

By Werner Willis

Open Edition Paper 8″ X 10″


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Lieutenant Colonel Sir Banastre Tarleton

“Beau Sabreur of The British Legion”

Banastre Tarleton was the beau sabreur of the British army in America during the Revolutionary War. A daring cavalry leader, Tarleton had a reputation as a ruthless, brutal, and cold-blooded fighter. He was tireless and fearless in battle. On May 29, 1780, Tarleton overtook the last remaining patriot force outside Charleston in the Waxhaws. When his troops bayoneted and sabered patriots attempting to surrender, Tarleton acquired his nickname, “Bloody Ban, Butcher of the Waxhaws”.

Tarleton’s highly mobile and efficient troops became the main British striking force in the Carolinas winning battle after battle. The success of the green jacketed Legion was checked when they suffered total defeat at Cowpens, South Carolina on January 17, 1781. Tarleton had met his match in the patriot leader, Daniel Morgan. In fact, Tarleton narrowly escaped with his life after fighting a celebrated saber duel with the leader of the patriot cavalry, Colonel William Washington, which left both leaders wounded.

Tarleton accompanied Cornwallis’ army to Virginia where he led an unsuccessful raid on Charlottesville in an attempt to capture Governor Thomas Jefferson and the members of the state legislature. Taken prisoner at Yorktown, he was paroled and returned to England in 1782.

Portrait of Tarleton taken from the original painting by Sir Joshua Reynolds