Sir Banastre Tarleton, 1st Baronet (August 21, 1754–January 25, 1833) was a British soldier and politician. His alleged ruthlessness earned him the nickname "Bloody Ban" and "Butcher"
In December 1775, he sailed as a volunteer to America with then-Earl Cornwallis, and his services to the British during the American War of Independence in the year 1776 gained for him the position of a brigade major of cavalry. Although he was accused of a habit of killing prisoners, which earned him an enduring place among the villains of American and Irish history, this is contested by British sources.
Under the command of Colonel William Harcourt, Tarleton was part of a scouting party sent to gather intelligence on the movements of General Charles Lee in New Jersey. On Friday, December 13th, Tarleton surrounded a house in Basking Ridge New Jersey and forced Lee, still in his dressing gown, to surrender by threatening to burn the building down. (identified as Banister Tarleton by David McCullogh in "1776")
Tarleton was present at the Battle of Brandywine and at other engagements in 1777 and 1778, and as the commander of the British legion, a mixed force of cavalry and light infantry called Tarleton's Raiders, he proceeded at the beginning of 1780 to South Carolina, rendering valuable services to Sir Henry Clinton in the operations which culminated in the capture of Charleston, South Carolina.
On May 29, 1780 Tarleton, with a force of 700, caught a band of 350 Virginia Continentals led by Abraham Buford. Facing much larger numbers, Buford insisted on joining Tarleton in battle. Only after sustaining heavy casualties did Buford order the surrender. What happened next is cause of heated debate. According to American accounts, Tarleton simply mercilessly massacred his prisoners. According to the British account, an American soldier shot Tarleton's horse after a treaty flag was raised and chaos erupted. In the end, more than one hundred Americans were shot in what became known as the Waxhaw massacre. The placement and extent of blame has been disputed since. Nonetheless, the Waxhaw massacre became an important rallying cry for the revolutionaries. Many people who had been roughly neutral became ardent supporters of the Revolution after the perceived atrocities. "Tarleton's quarter" and "no quarter" became rallying cries for American patriots for the rest of the war.