Historic Markers Across South Carolina

Battle of the Waxhaws: Massacre or Myth?

Marker ID:  
Location: Buford Battleground County Park on Rocky River Road, Lancaster, SC
County: Lancaster
Coordinates: N 34° 44.51    W 080° 37.566
  34.74183333    -80.6261


Battle of the Waxhaws: Massacre or Myth?

The Story of the Waxhaws
Immediately after the engagement, reports spread that many were stabbed and killed as they tried to surrender. Many were taken to a local Presbyterian church where local residents cared for them, including a young Andrew Jackson and his mother. Banastre Tarleton was denounced and over time became known as "Bloody Ban the Butcher" for his actions on the battlefield. In his report to the Virginia Assembly, Colonel Buford confirmed that "Our loss is very great … many of which (were) killed after they had laid down their arms." For his part, Tarleton acknowledged an erroneous report that he had been slain "stimulated the soldiers to a vindictive asperity not easily restrained." While historians continue to debate the events that occurred at the Waxhaws, it is clear that Tarleton's actions, here and elsewhere, stirred and angered the backcountry settlers into action.

The Spark to Independence
After the surrender of Charleston in May 1780, all organized Patriot resistance in the South was nearly extinguished. However, the British followed their victory with heavy-handed treatment of the rural population. General Clinton proclaimed that those who did not take an oath to the King would be treated as "rebels and enemies to their country." None could remain neutral. Throughout the Carolinas, the conflict disintegrated into terrible civil war. Loyalists sought vengeance on their beaten Patriot neighbors. Patriot militia rallied and treated Loyalists in a like manner. As the British Legion burned and pillaged the countryside, stories were told and retold of the slaughter at the Waxhaws. Indeed, the phrase "Tarleton's Quarter" became synonymous with cruel treatment and the execution of prisoners.


Explore more:
Wikipedia - American Revolutionary War
Wikipedia - Battle of Waxhaws
Wikipedia - Banastre Tarleton

SCIWAY - American Revolutionary War in SC