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Thrilling Incidents In American History

• Title
• Preface

Revolutionary War
• Opening Of The Revolution
• The Boston Massacre
• Affair of the Sloop Liberty
• Affair of the Gaspee
• The Tea Riot
• The Boston Port Bill
• The First Continental Congress-Consequent Parliamentary proceedings
• Organization of the Minute-Men
• Patrick Henry-Second Provincial Congress-First Military Enterprise
• Battles of Lexington and Concord
• Battle of Bunker's Hill
• Capture of Ticonderoga
• Second Continental Congress-Washington's Appointment
• Siege of Boston
• Incidents at the Evacuation of Boston
• Burning of Falmouth
• Arnold's Expedition to Quebec
• Siege of Quebec, and Death of Montgomery
• Scenes at Quebec during the Siege
• Expedition against Charleston
• The Declaration of Independence
• The Battle of Long Island
• Washington's Retreat through New Jersey-Capture of General Lee
• Battle of Trenton
• Battle of Princeton
• Capture of General Prescott
• Battle of Brandywine
• Battle of Germantown
• Battle of Red-Bank
• Attack on Fort Mifflin-Retirement of the Army to Valley Forge
• Battle of Bennington
• Murder of Miss M'Crea
• Battle of Stillwater
• Battle of Bemis' Heights, and Retreat of Burgoyne
• Capture of Forts Clinton and Montgomery
• Surrender of Burgoyne
• The Treaty with France
• Attack on Savannah, and Death of Pulaski
• Storming of Stony Point
• General Sullivan's Campaign against the Mohawks
• Tarleton's Quarters
• Battle of Camden, and Death of De Kalb
• Arnold's Treason
• The Loss of the Randolph
• The British Prison-Ships
• Capture of the Serapis
• Putnam's Feat at Horseneck
• Battle of Eutaw Springs
• Wayne's Charge at Green Spring
• Capture of the General Monk
• The Mutinies
• Battle of the Cowpens
• Capture of New London
• Massacre of Wyoming
• Surrender of Cornwallis

War With France
• Capture of L'Insurgente
• The Constellation and Vengeance

War With Tripoli
• Burning of the Philadelphia
• Bombardment of Tripoli
• Loss of the Intrepid
• Expedition of General Eaton

Second War With England
• Battle of Tippecanoe
• Capture of the Guerriere
• Tragical Affair of an Indian Chief
• Battle and Massacre at the River Raisin
• Captain Holmes's Expedition
• Capture of the Caledonia and Detroit
• The Wasp and Frolic
• Gallant Conduct of Lieutenant Allen at the Capture of the Macedonian
• Capture and Destruction of the Java
• Siege of Fort Meigs
• Capture of York, and Death of General Pike
• Defence of Sackett's Harbour
• Defence of Fort Stephenson
• Battle of Lake Erie
• Battle of the Thames
• Gallant Action of Commodore Chauncey under the guns of Kingston Citadel
• The Sacking of Hampton
• Capture of the Peacock
• Massacre at Fort Mimms
• Surrender of Weatherford
• Battle of Niagara
• BattIe of New Orleans

War With Mexico
• Battle of Palo Alto
• Battle of Resaca de la Palma
• Capture of Monterey
• Battle in the Streets of Monterey
• Thrilling Scenes in the Battle of Buena Vista
• Bombardment of Vera Cruz
• Battle of Cerro Gordo
• Battles of Contreras and Churubusco
• Storming of Chapultepec


IMMEDIATELY after the fall of Charleston (May 12th, 1780), Lieut. Colonel Buford, commanding the remnant of the continental force in the south, broke up his camp near Camden, and retired hastily toward North Carolina. At this time all who still adhered to the American cause were in alarm. The royalists overran the country; British garrisons were stationed at every important post, and the lives and property of the patriots were in continual danger.

At this time Cornwallis was near the Santee; and having heard of Buford's precipitate retreat, determined to push a detachment after him. This command, consisting of one hundred and seventy cavalry, aided by one hundred mounted infantry, was intrusted to Lieutenant-Colonel Tarleton. This impetuous officer entered upon his duty with alacrity; and fearing lest his prey should escape, hurried forward with the cavalry alone. One hundred and fifty miles were passed in fifty-four hours; while terror and flight ever preceded the approach of that fierce cavalry. On the 29th his jaded horses reached the friendly settlement of the Waxhaws, where Buford with his force was stationed. Tarleton immediately demanded a surrender, on the same terms which had been offered to the garrison at Charleston. During the negotiation, Tarleton made preparations for an attack and the moment a refusal was sent to his request, he ordered his cavalry to charge. The Americans were totally unprepared for battle, and beheld the coming of the furious horsemen with the wildest terror. Beneath that headlong charge, led by Tarleton himself, the ground trembled, and the militia sent up a cry of terror that echoed dreadfully along the plain. Before the first rude shock, man and horse and rider were flung to earth, mashed, distorted, lifeless. On those iron men drove, grinding the shrieking wretches into the sand, and overthrowing everything in their course. The cry for quarter rose above the ringing conflict; but it was met by jeers, and imprecations; and fiendish laughter. Youth and age, the suppliant wailing on his knees, and the soul too proud, too patriotic to bend, went down together. Throbbing hearts that but an hour ago were bounding with youth and buoyancy, now were crushed from their bosoms by the charger's iron heel. Still the trampling, the shouting, the ringing of sabres, and life's last piteous appeal went up, and satiated the ear of Death with savage butchery. Riding backward and forward over the mangled companies, Tarleton glutted his eyes on the terrible spectacle, and cheered on his men to their work. The prayer for mercy was music to his ears; and his haughty eye grew more bright, more intensely thrilling, as he saw the blood of the helpless oozing among the parched sands. Through and through the ranks were those horsemen driven, until their jaded steeds could no longer leap the piles of dead that obstructed their course. Gradually the battle shout was hushed, and low agonizing moans, with yells of insufferable anguish, grew more and more distinct. On that dreadful plain the taunts of the cruel Briton sharpened the horrors of the last mortal hour, and filled up the measure of that day's iniquity.

Of four hundred American infantry engaged in this affair, but eighty or ninety escaped; a few cavalry, under Colonel Buford, accompanied them. One hundred and thirteen were killed, one hundred and fifty so badly wounded as to be left on the ground, and fifty-three taken prisoners. Most of the wounded died upon the field.

This tragic event filled the Americans with the utmost indignation, and afforded a precedent for many acts of retaliation which subsequently disgraced the proceedings of the Southern war. It was stigmatized by the appellation of Tarleton's Quarters, and caused the character of that officer to be held in universal abhorrence.