Buford's Battleground

Other names:
Waxhaws, Buford's Defeat, Buford's Massacre, Battle of the Waxhaws [also used for Wahab's (Wauchope's) Plantation]

Battle/Massacre, Col. Abraham Buford vs. *Lt.Col. Banastre Tarleton, 29 May 1780

Where: 34.74199, -80.62415 Buford's Battleground

Maps: [map notes]


  • Butler, Scott, "Metal Detector Survey and Battlefield Delineation of the Buford’s Massacre (Waxhaws) Revolutionary War Battlefield,...", Prepared for: South Carolina Department of Transportation, Columbia, South Carolina, Brockington and Associates, Inc., February 2011.

  • Terry W. Lipscomb, Names in South Carolina, XXI, Pg 27. "South Carolina Revolutionary Battles: Part II", Publisher: English Dept, Univ. of South Carolina, Winter 1974
    At this time there was one regiment of Continental troops still in arms within the boundaries of South Carolina. This was Colonel Abraham Buford's command, which had arrived from Virginia too late to reinforce the garrison of Charleston. Buford's troops had remained on the north bank of the Santee until the city surrendered, and were now retreating northward. Tarleton, having been sent in pursuit by Cornwallis, was able by forced marches to overtake Buford on May 29, 1780, in the Waxhaws settlement. The ground on which Buford made his stand was not well suited for defense against cavalry, and soon after the commencement of the battle he ordered a surrender, realizing that further resistance was useless. Tarleton's dragoons ignored the flag of truce, however, and continued to slaughter the American troops. Of the 350 Continental soldiers, 113 were killed and 150 were severely and in many cases fatally wounded.18 The battle is commonly known as Buford's Massacre; it is also frequently referred to as the Battle of the Wax-haws, but it should not be confused with a later Tory raid through the Waxhaws in April 1781. The site is about nine miles east of modern Lancaster, near the crossroads of S. C. 9 and S. C. 522. The defeat of Colonel Buford aroused a spirit of revenge among many up country Patriots. From this time forward, "Tarleton's Quarter" became the synonym for no quarter. From a purely tactical standpoint, Tarleton had achieved his objective completely; South Carolina was now free of any military resistance to Royal authority. However, the real purpose of the British campaign was the restoration of South Carolina's traditional allegiance. to the crown, and considered from this standpoint the Waxhaws massacre was a disaster. The memory of Colonel Buford's defeat and the harsh treatment which many South Carolinians were to receive at the hands of the British would soon result in the appearance throughout the province, of partisan militia bands intent on continuing the struggle for Independence."

    Footnote 18. Edward McCrady, The History of South Carolina in the Revolution 1775-1780, pp. 517-524; Tarleton, pp. 28-32; Stedman, Vol. 2, pp. 192-193; William Dobein James. A Sketch of the Life of Brigadier General Francis Marion, Appendix, pp. 1-7.

  • Archive Dr. Robert Brownfield, in William Dobein James, A Sketch of the Life of Brig. Gen. Francis Marion, Notes, Chapter IV, "Campaign Of 1782. Defeat of Buford's regiment", referred to at page 39.~ [Chapter II Paragraph 6]. Also, found here. Use Control-F and search for dr. robert brownfield.

  • James Piecuch, "Massacre Or Myth? Banastre Tarleton At The Waxhaws, May 29, 1780", Southern Campaigns of the American Revolution, Vol.1 No.2, October 2004.

  • "Buford’s Battlefield (Waxhaws) SCAR Emergency Response", Southern Campaigns of the American Revolution, Vol.3 No.12, p.7. Current archaeological status of battlefield (Dec. 2006).

  • JR editorial opinion:
    It is unquestionable that Tarleton was the most hated British officer in the Southern Campaign. Almost everything known about him then and now is the product of very effective American propaganda. Some propaganda is true, some is not. Anything reported of his actions in battle should generally be considered true. Most accounts relating to non-battle behavior (Tarleton and any woman, riding a horse inside a house, exhumation of the dead) are mostly apocryphal and were added to the story decades after the war by popular authors and not by reputable historians. What is rarely if ever told in popular history is that American dragoon commanders performed in a very similar way in battle. It is not difficult to find the accounts in histories by reputable historians (Davie at Hanging Rock, William Washington at Hammond's Store, Light Horse Harry Lee at Big Alamance Creek). It has yet to be proven that Tarleton was called "Bloody Tarleton" in his lifetime. War history can only be properly understood if studied even-handedly from both sides, admittedly more easily said than done.

  • NBBAS:Two p.154-160.

  • Sherman, "Calendar..." . Search for buford. Numerous returns. To avoid long downloads, use option to "Save and view this PDF in Reader".

  • RevWar75 RevWar75  
  • May 1780 listing: 5/29/1780 Waxhaws (Buford's Massacre). British victory.

Related locations:

Confidence level:: See above