~ The Carolina Massacres ~

'Horrific' Harry Lee

American history conveniently justifies Rebel war crimes as understandable retaliation for supposed Loyalist/Redcoat atrocities; most notably Tarleton's "alleged" denial of quarter to surrendering Continentals soldiers at Waxhaws.
But this was clearly a fabrication and propaganda to detract from a humiliating defeat of 400 Rebels by Tarleton and about 250 Loyalists, who had, despite being exhausted from riding for 53 hours to catch up with the Rebels and given away their advantage of surprise by unsuccessfully trying to bluff Buford into believing he was dealing with a superior force, attacked head on, his (it turned out) poorly setup stand.
The allegation of 'Tarleton's quarter' has it's one sided origins in that, after the initial fighting a white handkerchief was produced by some Rebels, but with British officers always being given undue attention, others continued to fire at them hitting tarleton's horse, which on falling dead, pinned him to the ground.
It was two minutes before Tarleton could be freed to resume command, regroup and assess the situation, but even so there was no slaughter and it is obvious quarter was given, as two thirds of Buford's men survived, even their wounded were paroled back to their homes and the majority marched off to gaol.
But of course the first casualty of war is truth, so as Buford had deserted his men during the battle causing confusion (for which he was court-martialled), face-saving spin was required to cover this up.

But contrast this with the cold-blooded murder of Loyalists as a Rebel policy.
The Rebels knew they could not win by consensus, so from the first they organised militia in the southern provinces to intimidate Loyalists into not fighting by committing atrocities against those that took up arms and their families, who the Rebels would visit with a savage cruelty that reads like one of the darkest chapters of Parkman. The Loyalist's problem was (despite outnumbering Rebels in the Carolinas) they were nearly all sandwiched between ardent Rebels along the coast and the most uncivilised frontiersmen, bred to warfare from birth, to the west.

On 25/Feb/1781 around 400 American Loyalists (mainly of Scottish ancestry) being led by John Pyle were traveling from the Old Hillsboro area to join up as volunteers when 'Light Horse' Harry Lee and his cavalry (who were out looking for such recruitment parties) approached them at Haw River as though they were to be their escort, but when they got themselves all along side the Loyalists, Lee ordered the slaughter, which is described by one of his men as: "no quarter was granted and nearly all were inhumanly butchered, by a cold and unfeeling policy that aroused it, as the most effective means of intimidating the friends of royal government."


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