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War at Saber Point: Banastre Tarleton and the British Legion

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The American Loyalist Regiment Led by the Most Charismatic British Commander of the War The British Legion was one of the most remarkable regiments, not only of the American Revolution, but of any war. A corps made up of American Loyalists, it saw its first action in New York and then engaged in almost every battle in the Southern colonies. Led by a twenty-four-year-old li The American Loyalist Regiment Led by the Most Charismatic British Commander of the War The British Legion was one of the most remarkable regiments, not only of the American Revolution, but of any war. A corps made up of American Loyalists, it saw its first action in New York and then engaged in almost every battle in the Southern colonies. Led by a twenty-four-year-old libertine who purchased his commission to escape enormous gambling debts, the Legion gained notoriety for its ruthless tactics. Excelling in “special operations,” they frequently overwhelmed the Continental forces they fought, becoming the most feared British regiment of the war.     Banastre Tarleton and the Americans he led have always been characterized as brutal, immoral villains—most recently in the movie, The Patriot. But this study subverts our pre-conceived notions of patriotism. The men who filled the Legions ranks were not weak-willed collaborators or treacherous renegades, but free men as motivated by conscience as the Patriots they battled. Few were wealthy. None had a vested stake in the British Government. Each believed that in defending the Crown; they were upholding the rule of law and preserving individual liberty.      These men followed Banastre Tarleton clear across America for years, sacrificing not only their families and homes but, in many instances, their lives. Self-interest could not have persuaded them to do this. Patriotism and fidelity did. Relying on first-hand accounts—letters, diaries, and journals—The British Legion is the enthralling story of those forgotten Americans and the young Englishman who led them.


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The American Loyalist Regiment Led by the Most Charismatic British Commander of the War The British Legion was one of the most remarkable regiments, not only of the American Revolution, but of any war. A corps made up of American Loyalists, it saw its first action in New York and then engaged in almost every battle in the Southern colonies. Led by a twenty-four-year-old li The American Loyalist Regiment Led by the Most Charismatic British Commander of the War The British Legion was one of the most remarkable regiments, not only of the American Revolution, but of any war. A corps made up of American Loyalists, it saw its first action in New York and then engaged in almost every battle in the Southern colonies. Led by a twenty-four-year-old libertine who purchased his commission to escape enormous gambling debts, the Legion gained notoriety for its ruthless tactics. Excelling in “special operations,” they frequently overwhelmed the Continental forces they fought, becoming the most feared British regiment of the war.     Banastre Tarleton and the Americans he led have always been characterized as brutal, immoral villains—most recently in the movie, The Patriot. But this study subverts our pre-conceived notions of patriotism. The men who filled the Legions ranks were not weak-willed collaborators or treacherous renegades, but free men as motivated by conscience as the Patriots they battled. Few were wealthy. None had a vested stake in the British Government. Each believed that in defending the Crown; they were upholding the rule of law and preserving individual liberty.      These men followed Banastre Tarleton clear across America for years, sacrificing not only their families and homes but, in many instances, their lives. Self-interest could not have persuaded them to do this. Patriotism and fidelity did. Relying on first-hand accounts—letters, diaries, and journals—The British Legion is the enthralling story of those forgotten Americans and the young Englishman who led them.

32 review for War at Saber Point: Banastre Tarleton and the British Legion

  1. 4 out of 5

    Lissa

    I went into this book nearly blind about Banastre Tarleton and the British Legion. (I haven't even watched The Patriot yet.) I had heard a bit about Tarleton, but mostly just in brief passing, and not enough to have an opinion on him one way or another. Tarleton appears to have a bad reputation when it comes to his actions in the American Revolution, and the author clearly wants to change that. Like I said, I really don't know much about Tarleton except what was in this book, so I can't really we I went into this book nearly blind about Banastre Tarleton and the British Legion. (I haven't even watched The Patriot yet.) I had heard a bit about Tarleton, but mostly just in brief passing, and not enough to have an opinion on him one way or another. Tarleton appears to have a bad reputation when it comes to his actions in the American Revolution, and the author clearly wants to change that. Like I said, I really don't know much about Tarleton except what was in this book, so I can't really weigh in on that in a well-researched way. My general impression after reading this book is that Tarleton was rather impetuous and rash. It also seems that he didn't have a particularly good grip on his men. He can be contrasted with John Graves Simcoe (and the Queen's American Rangers), who ran a tighter ship with his men. However, I don't think it is fair to paint Tarleton with an "evil" brush, either. The writing style was good, and I found myself laughing out loud a few times (particularly over the captured rebel soldier who was hoping for Tarleton's defeat, only to belatedly realize that his captor was none other than Tarleton himself - LOL). I think the book could have used a bit of a tighter editing job - there were several errant commas, and at one point the Santee River is called the Sautée River (p. 142 [this is a quote from Cornwallis, so if this indeed how Cornwallis wrote it, a [sic] would have been helpful - as it stands, however, I feel that this was a spelling error in the book and not on Cornwallis' part]). I feel like I learned a great deal about the British Legion, and I am looking forward to learning more and cross-referencing this book to others.

  2. 4 out of 5

    William Guerrant

    Well-written, well-researched, entertaining, and informative, this book will surely be enjoyed by anyone with an interest in the history of the American Revolution and is a particularly valuable resource for those with a special interest in the British Legion. This book is an important contribution to the historical literature and is definitely recommended. One caveat however: in seeking to correct what the author regards as historiographical injustice to Tarleton, it seems to me he has fallen gu Well-written, well-researched, entertaining, and informative, this book will surely be enjoyed by anyone with an interest in the history of the American Revolution and is a particularly valuable resource for those with a special interest in the British Legion. This book is an important contribution to the historical literature and is definitely recommended. One caveat however: in seeking to correct what the author regards as historiographical injustice to Tarleton, it seems to me he has fallen guilty of the same kind of imbalance and bias he is seeking to overcome. Of course some of the stories told of Tarleton are exaggerated or fabricated. But it is equally obvious that anyone who reads a book like this will already know that Parson Weems and Mel Gibson are not reliable sources of history. In seeking to counter those sorts of tales, it seems to me that the author has gone too far in downplaying and excusing the undeniable atrocities committed by Tarleton and the men under his command. Perhaps most astonishing is the author's endorsement of a claim that during his raid through central Virginia in 1781, Tarleton "showed a kind spirit," citing as his source a 1925 interview with "an elderly matron" who recalled her grandmother having said so! While acknowledging that such a source has little real historical value (the anecdotes "should be treated with some caution, being unsubstantiated oral folklore," he writes in an endnote) he concludes nevertheless that "the author believes them credible attestations to Tarleton's character." So there. Weighing against the elderly matron's recollection of her grandmother's recollection of how Tarleton behaved while napping in her home, we have an abundance of contemporaneous accounts (including some from Tarleton himself) describing a regular practice of brutality, arson, and the merciless slaughter of surrendered soldiers. To be fair, this is a scholarly work, so the credible evidence supporting the traditional historical judgment of Tarleton is not ignored, but the author's attempts soften the historical judgment of Tarleton are unconvincing, to this reader at least. It is telling that even a portrayal by a sympathetic biographer reveals a subject with no virtue or positive moral qualities, other than personal courage.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Lacey Loves cats!

    The only History biography to actually make me laugh out loud. Loved the numerous characters in this book, not just Tarleton. A moving story in some ways particularly the struggle to survive the wastelands of Nova Scotia when the war ends. The slavery issue was a fascinating. I could have done without so much on the regiments formation, but I suspect most people will actually want this kind of detail. A northern colonies map to match the southern one would have been handy. Beautifully written, m The only History biography to actually make me laugh out loud. Loved the numerous characters in this book, not just Tarleton. A moving story in some ways particularly the struggle to survive the wastelands of Nova Scotia when the war ends. The slavery issue was a fascinating. I could have done without so much on the regiments formation, but I suspect most people will actually want this kind of detail. A northern colonies map to match the southern one would have been handy. Beautifully written, more like a historical novel than a biography.

  4. 4 out of 5

    YiYang

  5. 5 out of 5

    VsStuff

  6. 4 out of 5

    Christopher A

  7. 5 out of 5

    Jerome

  8. 5 out of 5

    Breck

  9. 4 out of 5

    Derrick Lapp

  10. 5 out of 5

    Joel Michael Podlaski

  11. 4 out of 5

    James Harrison

  12. 4 out of 5

    'Aussie Rick'

  13. 5 out of 5

    John Somers

  14. 5 out of 5

    Sara

  15. 5 out of 5

    Scott Wood

  16. 5 out of 5

    Cindy

  17. 4 out of 5

    Akshara

  18. 4 out of 5

    Michael L

  19. 5 out of 5

    Nicole1999

  20. 5 out of 5

    Bob

  21. 4 out of 5

    Oz Monz

  22. 5 out of 5

    Katie Canfield

  23. 4 out of 5

    Lucy

  24. 4 out of 5

    Leah Terry

  25. 5 out of 5

    Carolyn

  26. 5 out of 5

    Dr.Mohamed Adel

  27. 4 out of 5

    Connie Wilson

  28. 4 out of 5

    Cheryl

  29. 5 out of 5

    Jessica

  30. 5 out of 5

    Sara

  31. 5 out of 5

    Chris Uhas

  32. 5 out of 5

    Christene

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