“I have witnessed many stirring scenes,” said the old man, “both during the Revolution and since, but I never saw one half so exciting as the strife between that savage man and savage horse.”
“It was almost equal to Alexander and Buce—Buce—Alexander the Great, and that wild horse you know he tamed when a boy—what was its name?” said Kinnison.
“Bucephalus,” said Hand.
“That’s the name,” said Kinnison. “Tarleton was more savage, however, than even that conqueror.”
“The same relative told me of several other instances in which Tarleton displayed his savage and merciless nature,” said Pitts. “After the fall of Charleston, a young man named Stroud, who had taken a British protection, resumed arms in defence of his country. Shortly after, Tarleton captured him, and without any shadow of a trial, hung him up by the public road, with a label attached to his back, announcing that such should be the fate of the man who presumed to cut him down. The body was exposed in that manner for more than three weeks, when the sister of the young man ventured out, cut the body down and gave it decent burial. At another time, a young man named Wade, who had been induced to join Tarleton’s Legion, deserted, to unite with his countrymen. He was taken, tried and sentenced to receive a thousand lashes. Of course the poor fellow died under the punishment.”
“The wretch!” said Hand. “I suppose if he had fallen into the hands of our men, they would have strung him up without mercy.”
“He never would have fallen alive into the hands of our men,” replied Pitts. “Such men know that they must expect vengeance. He came near losing his life in various battles. At Cowpens, Colonel Washington cut him with his sabre, and would have killed him, if be had turned and fought like a man; at the Waxhaws, Captain Adam Wallace made a thrust at Tarleton that would have done for him, if a British trooper had not struck Wallace to the earth just at the time.”
“There were many Tarletons among the enemy,” said Colson, as “far as cruelty is considered, but most of them lacked his activity, and were therefore less formidable.”
“It seemed,” said Pitts, “as if Tarleton never aimed to win merely, but to destroy. He said that severity alone could establish the regal authority in America. If a party of Americans were surprised, they were not made prisoners, but slaughtered while asking for quarter. He was a tiger that was never satisfied until he had mangled and devoured his enemy.” And so the veterans went on, talking of the cruelties of Tarleton, giving his character no more quarter than he had given his unfortunate prisoners.
“There was another British officer, up in these parts, who was nearly equal to Tarleton,” said Davenport. “I mean General Grey—the man who massacred our men at Paoli and Tappan. Both these were night-attacks, it is true, and we always expect bloody work on such an occasion. But it is known that our men were bayoneted while calling for quarter, which can’t be justified. Did Wayne slaughter the enemy at Stony Point? No; he spared them, although they were the men who had acted otherwise at Paoli.”