Abraham Buford 

 

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Buford, ABRAHAM, military officer; born in Virginia; became colonel of the 17th Virginia Regiment, May 16, 1778. In May, 1780, when his command, hastening to the relief of Lincoln at Charleston, heard of his surrender, they returned towards North Carolina. Buford's command consisted of nearly 400 Continental infantry, a small detachment of Colonel Washington's cavalry, and two field-pieces. He had reached Camden in safety, and was retreating leisurely towards Charlotte, when Colonel Tarleton, with 700 men, all mounted, sent in pursuit by Cornwallis, overtook Buford upon the Waxhaw Creek. Tarleton had marched 100 miles in fifty-four hours. With only his cavalry—the remainder were mounted infantry—he almost surrounded Buford before that officer was aware of danger, and demanded an instant surrender upon the terms given to the Americans at Charleston. These were too humiliating, and Buford refused compliance. While flags for the conference were passing and re-passing, Tarleton, contrary to the rules of warfare, was making preparations for an attack in case of refusal. The instant he received Buford's reply, his cavalry made a furious charge upon the American ranks (May 29). The assailed troops were dismayed by an attack under such circumstances, and all was confusion. Some fired upon their assailants, others threw down their arms and begged for quarter. None was given, and men without arms were hewn to pieces by the sabres of Tarleton's cavalry. There were 113 slain; and 150 were so maimed as to be unable to travel, and fifty-three were made prisoners to grace the triumphal entry of the conqueror into Camden. Only five of the British were killed and fifteen wounded. All of Buford's artillery, ammunition, and baggage became spoil for the enemy. For this savage feat Cornwallis eulogized Tarleton, and commended him to the ministers as worthy of special favor. Afterwards, "Tarleton's quarter" became a proverbial synonym for cruelty. Stedman, one of Cornwallis's officers, and a historian of the war, wrote, "On this occasion the virtue of humanity was totally forgotten." Colonel Buford died in Scott county, Ky. June 29. 1833.

 

 

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