The Road to Waxhaws: British Moves after the Capture of Charleston

Lieutenant General Henry Clinton, New York Public Library

With the Charleston in British hands, Clinton believed that all he had to do was establish outposts in South Carolina stationed with British regulars. This be believed would put down what was left of the rebellion in the state. These posts assisted the recruitment and training of the thousands of Loyalist troops he believed would now rally around the King’s Colors. To take the best advantage of his Regular troops, Clinton determined to establish three major outposts in the South Carolina backcountry. Clinton established these posts at Augusta (Georgia), Ninety-Six, and Camden. While these posts were to be centers for the British army, the local Loyalist militias were to serve as the pacification forces in South Carolina while the main British force was freed up for larger strategic goals. 

To recruit, enlist, and train the large, expected influx of Loyalist militia, Clinton named Maj. Patrick Ferguson as Inspector of Militia. Ferguson was ordered to enlist younger men, preferably unmarried, into companies that would form battalions. He was instructed to recruit from Georgia to North Carolina and offer short enlistments if necessary. Clinton believed that having the colonists maintain their own law and order (via Great Britain’s authority) would cause less apprehension with those that were mostly undecided about to whom they should throw their support, the Patriots or the British. 

By mid-May, the British army set out for their destinations in the back country. Clinton’s second in command, Lieut. Gen. Charles Lord Cornwallis, marched to Camden while Ferguson moved to Ninety-Six. Without much resistance, Clinton’s plan to conquer South Carolina was working perfectly. Patriot leaders scrambled to find ways to organize their resistance. The only organized Continental force remaining in South Carolina was a small force of Virginians under Col. Abraham Buford that was on its way to Charleston when the city surrendered. Ordered by Brig. Gen Isaac Huger to reverse course and make his way north toward Hillsborough, North Carolina. There along with the North Carolina militia, he could be the core of American defense in North Carolina.  

On May 27, Cornwallis ordered Lieut. Col. Banastre Tarleton with 300 of his dragoons and mounted infantry in pursuit of Buford. Tarleton’s British Legion was mostly composed of Loyalist recruits, so many in his force were from America. Tarleton pushed him men and horses hard, many horses falling out along the way. Buford was aware of a possible British pursuit but underestimated the speed in which Tarleton closed the gap. On May 29, Tarleton caught up with Buford in a region near the South and North Carolina border called the “Waxhaws.”  

Lieutenant Colonel Banastre Tarleton, New York Public Library

The events that took place next are still debated today. Tarleton under a flag of truce tried to get Buford to surrender. Writing to Buford, Tarleton wrote “Resistance being vain, to prevent the effusion of human blood, I make offers which can never be repeated.” Tarleton was already creating an image of himself as an aggressive and brutal fighter. Buford, however, refused, replying, “I reject your proposals, and shall defend myself to the last extremity.” With that, Buford continued his march north towards North Carolina as did Tarleton’s pursuit. Around 3:00 p.m. the lead elements of Tarleton’s force wiped out Buford’s small rearguard, forcing Buford to stop and deal with Tarleton.  

Buford decided to create a single battle line east of the Rocky River Road. Tarleton, ever the aggressive commander, ordered his horsemen to charge the Virginians. Here, Buford made what would be a devastating blunder. He ordered his men to not fire until the British cavalry was within ten yards of the American line. This would not allow the Americans a chance to fire another volley before the British charge was upon them. The Virginians fired, taking out some of the British dragoons and horses (Tarleton himself became briefly trapped under his horse), but most charged through Buford’s line, wielding their sabers and cutting down the Virginians. Total chaos ensued, and many of Buford’s men attempted to flee. Some tried to surrender by throwing their arms to the ground, but American accounts state that the British were offering “no quarter” and killing everyone that tried to surrender. Other accounts report that Buford sent a white flag to Tarleton, but probably because he was injured, it was never received, and the fighting continued. Accounts differ widely between the Americans and British on the fighting, but the fact cannot be argued that Buford’s command was destroyed. 

Waxhaws Grave and Monument, photo and flags courtesy of the author

American casualties were estimated at 350, 113 men killed, 147 wounded, 50 captured, and 2 six-pound artillery pieces and 26 wagons captured. Buford himself was able to escape the field. Tarleton only suffered 5 killed and 12 wounded, a complete victory. What has become known as “Buford’s Massacre” was not referred to as a massacre at all in many period accounts. Tarleton himself blamed the “slaughter” on the fact that his men thought he was killed in the battle and sought revenge. The disparity in numbers and the reports of indiscriminate British slaughter of Americans led to the creation of “Tarleton’s Quarter.” Patriot leaders quickly pounced on this and began to spread stories about Tarleton’s brutal tactics. This proved to be a public relations coup for the Patriot cause, as it energized their side and led to a more robust recruitment of militia and partisan forces to take on the British who now faced no organized opposition in South Carolina or Georgia.

Stay Tuned for the Emerging Revolutionary War Series newest book releases “To the Last Extremity: The Battles for Charleston, 1776-1782” by Mark Maloy and “All That Can Be Expected: The Battle of Camden and the British High Tide in the South, August 16, 1780” by Rob Orrison and Mark Wilcox to learn more abou the 1780 Southern Campaign. Both releases are published by Savas Beatie Publshing:

The Tea Act – 250th Anniversary (May 10, 1773)

May 10, 2023 marks the 250th anniversary of the passing of the infamous Tea Act. Though a seemingly innocuous Parliamentary action, it had dire impacts in the British North American colonies. Parliament was known to enact various laws to provide guidance and management of her colonies across the globe. Some like the Stamp Act led to direct protest and eventual repeal. But the Tea Act was something totally different. It focused on the North American colonies and was meant to benefit a single entity, the East India Company. These two variables, plus the on going strife in North America over British influence led to various protests in the American colonies. This ultimately resulted in the Boston Tea Party on December 16, 1773 (and other lesser known “tea parties” in Charleston, Philadelphia and other port cities).

East India House in London, ca 1800

The East India Company was a joint stock company founded in 1600 and became one of the largest companies in the world. Tea was not their only commodity, however as they also traded spices, sugar, indigo, silk and much more. Parliament was heavily vested in the company’s success and began to enact laws that benefited the company. This included the Tea Act of 1773, passed to help the company divest itself of an over abundance of tea stored in its warehouses. The Crown and Parliament was worried that the prices of tea and the large supply would lead to serious financial strain on the company. The Tea Act also aimed to clamp down on the massive amounts of “illegal” tea that was being smuggled into the colonies. Some historians argued that men like John Hancock, who was deeply involved in smuggling, saw the Tea Act as his “rubicon” towards independence. He believed the act would impact his revenues via his smuggling. Now the American colonies were forced to purchase East India Company Tea (that could directly ship to the colonies) and which was taxed. Many colonial leaders saw this is as a backwards way to impose a tax without their consent and to force them to prop up a struggling East India Company

The road to revolution in the American colonies does not have a single starting point, but one could argue that 250 years ago the Tea Act was the last straw. It led to direct and open opposition (and destruction) of British rule and property in several ports along the Atlantic. These brazen “parties”, mainly the Boston Tea Party, led Parliament to pass the Coercive (Intolerable) Acts, which in turn united the various colonies like never before. Open armed conflict with Great Britain was just a year away.

Rev War Revelry Three Year Anniversary!

It is hard to believe but three years ago on April 2020 we, like the rest of the country, were on lock down looking for a way to interact with others (and share our love of history). Thus was born our Rev War Revelry, which started off as every Sunday and morphed into a bi-weekly affair as the world got back to normal. Since April 2020, we have provided nearly 100 hours of free historic content covering a wide array of topics focusing on the Revolutionary Era.

Join us this Sunday at 7pm on our Facebook page as we share drinks, stories and our favorite moments and people in American history. We also will share some exciting plans on for our 2023 Symposium and 2024 bus tour. See you on Sunday night! **cant make it Sunday, all of our Rev War Revelries live on your You Tube and Spotify channels, where you can hear them any time **

This Sunday’s Rev War Revelry: Battle of the Upper Sandusky, A Chat with historian and author Eric Sterner

In May 1782, Colonel William Crawford led over 450 volunteers across Ohio to attack British-allied Native Americans who had been raiding the frontiers of Pennsylvania and Virginia for years. An experienced yet reluctant commander, Crawford and his men clashed with a similarly sized force of British Rangers and Wyandot, Delaware, and Shawnee Indians on the Sandusky River in early June. After three days, the Americans were routed in one of the worst defeats American arms suffered on the frontier during the American Revolution. During the retreat, Native American warriors captured dozens of men, including Colonel Crawford. Many were horrifically tortured to death in revenge for the Gnadenhutten massacre earlier that spring, when American volunteers bludgeoned nearly one hundred unarmed and unresisting Delaware Indians to death.

Join us on our Facebook page this Sunday at 7pm for a recorded talk with historian and author Eric Sterner as he discusses Crawford’s Campaign and his new book “The Battle of Upper Sandusky, 1782” due out this spring. The talk will be availble on our You Tube page next week.

The Final Battle: The Battle of Eutaw Springs with Bert Dunkerly – This Sunday’s Rev War Revelry!

Join us this Sunday, February 5th at 7pm as we welcome back historian and author Robert Dunkerly. The Battle of Eutaw Springs took place on September 8, 1781, and was among the last in the War of Independence. It was brutal in its combat and reprisals, with Continental and Whig militia fighting British regulars and Loyalist regiments. Although its outcome was seemingly inconclusive, the battle, fought near present-day Eutawville, South Carolina, contained all the elements that defined the war in the South. Shrouded in myth and misconception, the battle has also been overshadowed by the surrender of Yorktown.

Eutaw Springs represented lost opportunities for both armies. The American forces were desperate for a victory in 1781, and Gen. Nathanael Greene finally had the ground of his own choosing. British forces under Col. Alexander Stewart were equally determined to keep a solid grip on the territory they still held in the South Carolina lowcountry.

In one of the bloodiest battles of the war, both armies sustained heavy casualties with each side losing nearly 20 percent of its soldiers. Neither side won the hard-fought battle, and controversies plagued both sides in the aftermath. Join us as we talk about the Battle Eutaw Springs with ERW”s own Bert Dunkerly, co-author of the book Eutaw Springs: The Final Battle of the American Revolution’s Southern Campaign live on our Facebook page on February 5th at 7pm, or you can watch/listen to the replay anytime on our You Tube page and podcast channel.

Rev War Revelry This Sunday: William Faden’s 1778 & 1784 Maps of the Battle of Brandywine with Andrew Outten

British cartographer William Faden is well known for his maps depicting major battles of the Revolutionary War. Unusually, he produced two maps of the Battle of Brandywine, one in 1778 and the other in 1784. Each map shows troop movements and positions along with other aspects of the overall battlefield landscape, but each conveys significantly different information.

Join us this Sunday night at 7p.m. on our Facebook page as we chat with Andrew Outten, historical programs manager for the American Revolution Institute of the Society of the Cincinnati. Andrew will discuss the Battle of Brandywine, key differences between the two maps, and recent discoveries pertaining to those differences. Should be a great night sharing new research so grab a drink and join us for our January 8th Rev War Revelry!

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year from Emerging Revolutionary War

As we prepare to celebrate the Holiday season, we want to thank everyone who has followed us this past year. We had a very successful year with nearly 30 Rev War Revelries, our Third Annual Rev War Symposium, two books published, various blog posts and a very successful bus tour to Valley Forge and Monmouth.

2023 will be another very busy year for us. We will have two more books released in our book series (Battles for Charleston by Mark Maloy and Battle of Camden by Mark Wilcox and Rob Orrison). We will continue our Rev War Revelry every other Sunday (check our Facebook page for our line up) and our Third Annual Bus Tour will take place on Nov 10-12, 2023 in Charleston, SC. Also, stay tuned for some very exciting news about our annual Revolutionary War Symposium (hint, a change of venue and location!) and we will continue our partnership with Historic Alexandria on a new 18th century style tavern program.

We will not have a Rev War Revelry this Sunday, but we will be resharing our video from last year of ERW historian Mark Maloy narrating the movie The Crossing to honor the anniversary of the Battle of Trenton. We will be back live on January 8, 2023 with historian Andrew Outten, Historical Programs Manager for the American Revolution Institute of the Society of the Cincinnati who will discuss his research on British cartographer William Faden’s maps of the Battle of Brandywine. In the meantime, check out our You Tube Channel to catch all of our nearly 200 videos and our podcast channel as well (every Rev War Revelry now is a podcast). We look forward to seeing you then and we hope Santa brings you history books!

Rev War Revelry: 2023 Bus Tour Reveal

We have A LOT to be thankful for in 2022! We had a great year in releasing new Emerging Revolutionary War book titles, blog posts, 26 Rev War Revelries, many partnerships with the American Battlefield Trust, Americana Corner & many others. Most of all, we are thankful for a successful Second Annual ERW Bus Tour. We are now all recovered & ready for 2023’s bus tour! This Sunday’s Rev War Revelry focus is to reveal the topic and location of our Third Annual Bus Tour.

We will recap our 2022 bus tour, share some fun stories from this year’s tour and set the scene for 2023. We will discuss the sites we will visit, the personalities, battles and stories that our tour will focus on.

We hope everyone has a great Thanksgiving & as you think of gifts for friends and family that love history, be sure to check out our books & the 2023 bus tour.

You can tune in live to the discussion on our Facebook page on Sunday, November 27 at 7:00 p.m. EST. Can’t make it for the live viewing? Check out the recording later on our Facebook page, our YouTube page, or our podcast!

2022 Symposium Speaker Spotlight: Liz Williams

This week we interview our Symposium co-host, Liz Williams! Like all of our speakers, we asked Liz to answer a few questions about her passion for history. We appreciate Liz partnering with us for the third year to put on a great program. Liz is the Director of Gadsby’s Tavern Museum in Alexandria, VA and has been with the Office of Historic Alexandria, part of the City of Alexandria, since 2004. She has a passion for history and having fun at work (as shown by her photo!).

Liz is a graduate of Mary Washington College in Fredericksburg, Virginia, where she earned her B.A. in Historic Preservation. She went on to receive her graduate degree at The George Washington University in Washington, D.C., where she earned an M.T.A. in Tourism Administration, concentrating on heritage tourism.

She is a Superfan of the musical “1776” and educates everyone she knows about the famous ride of Caesar Rodney, one of her home state’s epic Rev-War stories.

What first attracted you to the study of early American history? What keeps you involved in the study of this history? Do you find these things are the same or different?

It is all my Dad’s fault. Summer family vacations to historic sites embedded history deep into my soul at an early age. I think what attracted me then still attracts me now, just refined by time. I always connected with the people of the past and how they got from Point A to Point B. However, in my older age, I understand those decisions were not so cut and dry like I once thought they were.

Why do you think it is important for us to study the Revolutionary Era?                         

So many of our traditions, things we celebrate as “America,” stem from this era. It helps us all understand how we got to 2022.

What do you think was the most significant foreign impact on the American Revolution?

Other nations using our revolution as a model and inspiration for their own. Imitation is the highest form of flattery, right? Perhaps…

What are some of the important lessons of the American Revolution do you think are still relevant today?

Envision Barbra Streisand singing “People…” People are complex. How the revolution began, ended, and everything in between is rooted in humanity—choices made for a variety of reasons. Recognizing this human dimension is essential to understanding both the past and the present.

What was it about the American Revolution that elicited such global interest?

We defeated the big bad British (with the help of France, but I digress). It was David vs. Goliath. Of course people across the globe wanted to stay up-to-date on all the ins and outs of this action packed tale – from start to finish to the next chapter. We tell that next chapter story at Gadsby’s. We won the Revolution – Yippie! What do we do now? Those across the globe watched as we made choices to build and create what we now know as the United States of America.

Join us for our Third annual Emerging Revolutionary War Symposium on September 24, 2022. Emerging Revolutionary War is excited to continue our partnership with Gadsby’s Tavern Museum and The Lyceum of Alexandria, VA to bring to you a day-long Symposium focusing on the American Revolution.

Registration fee is now only $60 per person and $50 for OHA members and students. If you feel more comfortable attending virtually, the fee is $30 to register visit:

2022 Symposium Speaker Spotlight: Norman Desmarais

We are happy to welcome Norman Desmarais to our Third Annual Symposium on the American Revolution, co-hosted with Gadsby’s Tavern Museum, The Lyceum and Emerging Revolutionary War. This year’s theme is “The World Turned Upside: The American Revolution’s Impact on a Global Scale. We asked Norm to answer a few questions about their talk and their passion for history.

Mr. Desmarais is the author of The Guide to the American Revolutionary War series (six volumes about the war on land and seven volumes about the war at sea and overseas), as well as America’s First Ally: France in the American Revolutionary War and Washington’s Engineer: Louis Duportail and the Creation of an Army Corps. He is the former editor-in-chief of The Brigade Dispatch, the Journal of the Brigade of the American Revolution.

Norm translated the Gazette Françoise, the French newspaper published in Newport, Rhode Island by the French fleet that brought the Comte de Rochambeau and 5,800 French troops to America in July 1780. He also translated and annotated Louis-François-Bertrand du Pont d’Aubevoye, comte de Lauberdière’s journal, published as The Road to Yorktown: The French Campaigns in the American Revolution, 1780-1783 (Savas Beatie 2021). He has also completed the translation and annotation of Journal of a French Quartermaster on the March to Yorktown June 16—October 6, 1781 which hopefully will find a publisher before the conference.

Norm was inducted into the American French Genealogical Society French-Canadian Hall of Fame in 2015 and received the Albert Nelson Marquis Lifetime Achievement Award in 2019 and 2020.

What first attracted you to the study of early American history?

Watching the Walt Disney television miniseries The Swamp Fox and Davy Crockett with Fess Parker and Buddy Ebsen as a youngster captured my interest. Later, during the nation’s bicentennial, I attended some reenactments and my interest blossomed in a different direction.

When I was going through a period of writer’s block and looking for a project for my first sabbatical, I was speaking with one of my friends who suggested I consider following one of my interests and that brought me into the Revolutionary Era.

What keeps you involved in the study of this history?

Continually learning about our nation’s history. The best way to learn is by doing, so I’m involved with reenacting which feeds my research and gives me opportunities to share my knowledge with the public and other historians. It’s an educational experience like no other.

Do you find these things are the same or different?  

I think they’re different, but they are related.  They use the same sources in different ways for different objectives—sort of a repurposing of information.

Why do you think it is important for us to study the Revolutionary Era? 

People today go to great effort to do their family genealogy to discover their roots.  Going back to the Revolutionary Era is sort of like doing our national genealogy and going back to our national roots. If we don’t know where we come from, we can’t understand where we’re going as family members or as a nation.

What do you think was the most significant foreign impact on the American Revolution? 

The entry of France in the war. France began providing covert aid to support the war effort right from the beginning. However, once she officially entered the war, she could provide military assistance along with a lot of materiel the Continental Army needed so badly.  French artillery helped win the battle of Saratoga which was key to France joining the war.  Without French involvement, we could not have won at Yorktown. Three quarters of the allied force at Yorktown was French (army and navy).

What are some of the important lessons of the American Revolution do you think are still relevant today?

Logistics: Supplying and maintaining an army across an ocean is extremely difficult. Consider our experience in Vietnam, Syria and Afghanistan among others.

Morale: An army that has a will to fight for its independence, homeland or whatever can sometimes defeat a better supplied and trained army that has a lesser will to fight.

National support: Think of this as morale on the home front.  If the populace of a nation doesn’t support the war effort, it’s going to be very difficult to win.  Consider our experience in Vietnam and what Russia is experiencing in the Ukraine.

What was it about the American Revolution that elicited such global interest? 

First of all, it was inspired by the ideological principles of the Enlightenment which introduced some novel ideas and ways of thinking that inspired Europeans.

Second, there was great resentment about the increasing expansion of the British empire and its dominance in world politics and economy.

Third, Britain pretty much controlled the trade routes between Europe and the West and East Indies, in other words, the lucrative sugar trade and the tea and spice trade. The rest of Europe wanted to minimize Britain’s power and to obtain a share of that trade. Then there were the lucrative fishing rights off the coast of North America.

Fourth, People began to realize that the power of the monarchy resided in the willingness of the people to be governed by the monarchy. As they realized this and acted upon it, there arose a series of revolutions for independence and changes of government.

Join us for our Third annual Emerging Revolutionary War Symposium on September 24, 2022. Emerging Revolutionary War is excited to continue our partnership with Gadsby’s Tavern Museum and The Lyceum of Alexandria, VA to bring to you a day-long Symposium focusing on the American Revolution.

Registration fee is now only $60 per person and $50 for OHA members and students. If you feel more comfortable attending virtually, the fee is $30. To register visit: