May 29, 1780 Battle of Waxhaws, SC.
Following the surrender of Charleston, SC on May 12th, the only effective Rebel fighting force left in South Carolina was a regiment of 300 Continentals under the command of Colonel Abraham Buford. Buford’s force was ordered to withdraw to Hillsboro, NC and was pursued by British Colonel Banastre Tarleton with about 250 men, mostly cavalry.
Buford’s force was overtaken at Waxhaws on the Catawba River. Tarleton ordered a cavalry attack followed by an infantry bayonet charge. Buford was in the open and his men were either killed or captured.
It was at this action that Tarleton received his nickname, “Bloody” Tarleton. One journalist stated, “after every man was prostrate they went over the ground plunging their bayonets into everyone that exhibited any signs of life…” Author Mark Boatner writes, “As for the morality displayed by the victor, a successful cavalry charge exploited by a bayonet attack is bound to be messy, and the dividing line between military success and slaughter depends on which side you’re on”. Boatner continues, “Unknown prior to the action at Waxhaws, he (Tarleton) was now a British hero. But to the Rebel army, “Tarleton’s Quarter” became a synonym for the butchery of surrendered men, and “Bloody Tarleton” is a name more familiar in America today than it is in England”.
Source: Mark M. Boatner III, Encyclopedia of the American Revolution.