Lt. Colonel Banastre Tarleton was selected to join Lt. General Henry Clinton and Lt. General Charles Cornwallis for a Southern Expedition to subjugate the four Southern colonies of Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina and Virginia. On December 26, the expedition set sail. He was now commander of the British cavalry in the South, which consisted of the British Legion and a company from the 17th Dragoons. There was some tension between the two units, because the 17th Dragoons refused to wear the green colors of the Legion. They disdained the irregulars and chose to remain in their scarlet colors. After a number of storms blew the expedition far south off the coast of Florida, it sailed back north to Savannah, Georgia.
At Savannah, 1,400 infantry were put ashore as a diversionary force to draw the attention of Southern Continental CommanderMaj. General Benjamin Lincoln. Lt. Colonel Tarleton's cavalry was also put ashore to remount themselves. On the stormy voyage their horses had to be thrown overboard because of serious injuries including broken legs. On their way north to South Carolina, Tarleton and his cavalry skirmished with Lt. Colonel William Washington and his Virginia cavalry. While serving as a screening force for infantry, he scattered rebel militia at Bee's Plantation on March 23. When Tarleton reached Charleston, General Clinton gave him the responsibility of cutting off supply lines to the city. On March 26, he again skirmished with Lt. Colonel Washington at North Carolina Rebel Governor John Rutledge's plantation where he had to withdraw. He carried out his duties effectively by using quick movements, moving his force at a relentless pace and slashing, surprising attacks.
On April 12, General Clinton sent infantry under Lt. Colonel James Webster and cavalry under Tarleton and Major Patrick Ferguson to eliminate the last line of communications for Charleston at Monck's Corner. On April 13, they captured a slave who was delivering a message from General Isaac Huger at Monck's Corner and Genera Lincoln. Tarleton now knew Huger's exact force and dispositions. After encountering no patrols, Taleton routed the last Continental resistance under General Isaac Huger and Lt. Col. Washington at Monck's Corner on the night of April 14, 1780.
Some of the Continentals that had escaped Monck's Corner reformed along the Santee River under the command of Colonel Anthony White and on May 5, 1780, they captured eighteen men from Tarleton's command at Elias Ball's plantation.
The Continentals then made for Lenud's Ferry where Colonel Abraham Buford and Lt. Colonel William Washington were located with 350 men and some cavalry. He had halted his march to Charleston when he had learned of the siege and was awaiting new orders. Tarleton received information about the strength and movement of the rebels from a Tory who had been at Ball's plantation. At about 3 P.M. on May 7, 1780, Tarleton attacked Colonel White near Lenud's Ferry, South Carolina. The Continentals were caught completely by surprise. Many of Colonel Buford's men were across the river and could do nothing. Colonels White and Washington escaped by swimming across the river. On May 12, 1780, General Lincoln surrendered Charleston to General Clinton. On May 18th, General Clinton sent General Cornwallis to secure Georgetown as an outpost. Then Cornwallis received news that South Carolina Governor John Rutledge was at large and being escorted by Colonel Abraham Buford's Continental Virginia Regulars.
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