Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Adventures in Historical Research

Okay, so, I'm doing more research on the American Revolution and last night ran across a whole site devoted to Banastre Tarleton, the impetuous young British colonel who galloped all over South Carolina in 1780, wreaking havoc as he went. He's also known as the Butcher of the Carolinas for the massacre of Rebel troops at Waxhaw in May 1780. I'm still out to lunch on whether he merited this title; of course the British say not, citing extenuating circumstances during that battle AND equal atrocities committed by the Rebels. He was recently tarred and feathered in the Mel Gibson movie The Patriot, in the form of the character Will Tavington, but the real-life Ban Tarleton bears little resemblance to Will.

In following links through the very entertaining account of his biography (which I still haven't finished) I stumbled across a reference to Henry Lee, otherwise known as "Light Horse Harry," the father of Robert E. Lee. Henry was also a rather hotheaded young officer, but under the command of George Washington. In the sidebar was this quote:

"The measure you propose of putting deserters from our Army to immediate death would probably tend to discourage the practice[, but] I think that the part of your proposal which respects cutting off their heads and sending them to the Light Troops had better be omitted." (July 9, 1779)

Priceless. The humor one finds in unexpected places ...

2 comments:

  1. Who knew George had such a way with words? This makes me curious about the Lee family: did Henry chill as he aged so that his "exuberance" didn't pass down to Robert E. or maybe Robert E. thought, as so many of us do, "I'll never do what my parent did!" and worked to be a cooler fellow? I have heard he was a Christian--so maybe he just let the Fruit of the Spirit grow in his own life.... Ok, I've gotten off topic--sorry!!

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  2. LOL, Tamara, I've been wondering some of that myself. Robert E. Lee was by much evidence a strong believer in Christ ... of course, there's the possibility that he took more after his mother temperamentally, as boys so often do.

    And as far as George--have you ever seen the film The Crossing, with Jeff Daniels playing Washington? [oooh, I see he played in that other film you were telling me about today.] There are some pretty dry quips in that, too ... maybe some of it is rooted in documented history.

    And dearie, nothing is off topic on a blog. ;-)

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