The Patriot Resource - American Revolution

Battle of Waxhaws
Battle of Waxhaws

The Battle
Lt. Colonel Banastre Tarleton sent a messenger ahead requesting that Colonel Abraham Buford surrender. In the message, Tarleton exaggerated his forces in hopes of scaring Buford into surrender, or at least delaying him. After delaying the messenger, while his infantry reached a favorable position, Buford declined in a one sentence reply: "Sir, I reject your proposals, and shall defend myself to the last extremity."

Around three o'clock in the afternoon on May 29, 1780, Lt. Colonel Tarleton caught up with Colonel Buford near the Waxhaws district on the border of North and South Carolina. Tarleton's advance guard slashed through Buford's rear guard. Buford now formed his men up in a single line, while it is unknown what he did with Lt. Colonel William Washington's dragoons. Meanwhile, Tarleton did not wait for his stragglers to catch up, but continued to press the attack.

Lt. Colonel Tarleton assigned fifty cavalry and fifty infantry to harass Colonel Buford's left flank. Another forty cavalry were to charge at the center of Buford's line, while Tarleton would take another thirty cavalry to Buford's right flank and reserves. He formed up his troops on a low hill opposite the American line. At 300 yards, his cavalry began their charge.

When Lt. Colonel Tarleton's cavalry was fifty yards from Colonel Buford's line, the Americans presented their muskets, but they were ordered to hold their fire until the British were closer. Finally, at ten yards, Buford's men opened up, but that was too close for cavalry. Tarleton's horse was killed under him, but the American line was broken and in some cases, ridden down. The rout began and controversy soon followed.

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