Colonel Abraham Buford was leading a regiment of Continental soldiers from Virginia to South Carolina to help defend Charleston. A group of soldiers coming from Charleston met them on the road and told them Charleston had already fallen into the British hands. Col. Buford decided to turn the men back towards North Carolina to keep the British from advancing into South Carolina.
On May 29, 1780, Lieutenant Colonel Banastre Tarleton and the British Legion caught up with Col. Buford’s army at a place called “The Waxhaws” in the Catawba River valley, located four miles south of the North Carolina border. Over in fifteen minutes and with 113 Americans dead on the field, this massacre became the first major battle of the Southern Campaign.
The Battle of Waxhaws also became a turning point in the Revolutionary War, but not for reasons the British might have hoped. Their intent was to make the back country colonists feel the “heel of the boot.”
Many patriots who had previously surrendered rejoined the fight to repay the harshness of “Tarleton’s quarter” with a vengeance of their own.