Diary of Orrin Brown—March 1, 1865

Battle of Hanging Rock site, SC (Loyalist Institute)

Diary of Orrin Brown, near Kershaw, South Carolina

Wednesday–March 1st

We were on the road at 6 AM our Brige. was detailed to guard the waggon train and help them out of the mudholes and up the hills and we traveled over some of the roughest country I ever saw and almost bottomless mudholes but as bad as the roads were we marched about 20 miles and went into camp at 6 PM. It rained some last night and it has been showery all day and a cool wind blowing. We came into camp tired and hungry and not much to get for supper. Timber through here is mostly Oak and Hickory with some Pine. I read 4 Chapts. in the Testament today.

Morgan’s 2nd Division reported they were camped two miles east of Little Lynches Creek after passing over Hanging Rock Creek, which are in Lancaster County, SC.  As I’ve mentioned before, South Carolina hosted more Revolutionary War battles than any other state.  Unfortunately, my exposure to that is history is pretty much limited to Mel Gibson’s movie The Patriot—great story, lousy history.  While Gibson’s character was a mashup of several real-life patriots, the villain of the story, Col. William Tavington, is a charismatic, sociopathic slur on the Gen. Sir Banastre Tarleton.

Tarleton was nasty enough without the fictionalization, but his primary claim to fame was his slaughter of surrendering Continental troops at the Battle of Waxhaws, also known as the Waxhaw Massacre.  Patriot Col. Abraham Buford commanded about 380 raw recruits from Virginia, joined by about 40 experienced troops who had escaped when the British took Charleston on 12 May 1780.  Tarleton and his force of 170 Loyalist and British Army dragoons caught up to Buford on 29 May.  After Buford refused to surrender, Tarleton’s mounted troops overwhelmed the inexperienced volunteers, then ignored a flag of truce and indiscriminately continued killing men who were surrendering.  The Continentals suffered 113 killed, 150 wounded and 53 captured against 17 total British casualties; the battlefield is preserved as a park by Lancaster County.

“Tarleton’s Quarter” became a rallying cry in the Carolina back country, drawing volunteers into the militia.  On 6 August 1780, Continental Gen. Thomas Sumter and 800 militia launched an attack on the nearby northernmost British outpost in the Battle of Hanging Rock.  Major John Carden, in command of 1,400 Loyalist and British troops including the Prince of Wales Regiment, were no match for the Patriots, and Major Carden surrendered his command in the heat of battle.  The Continentals suffered 12 killed and 41 wounded, against 200 British casualties; the battle site is listed on the National Register, and is managed by the South Carolina Dept. of Natural Resources.



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