Friday, 8 July 2016

Tarleton's British Legion Infantry

The British legion was raised in New York in late July, 1778, it was the amalgamation of various loyalist units into infantry and cavalry wings. The colonel was one Lord William Cathcart. Cathcart would go on to become a full general and serve with great distinction during the Napoleonic wars where he was to become the ambassador to Russia. However, the infamous (at least to those interested in the period) Banastre Tarleton was the Legion’s lieutenant colonel and field commander, more on Tarleton when the cavalry arm of the legion are posted though.

The legion sailed from New York on 26th December, 1779 bound for Charleston, South Carolina. Sources suggest the legion lost almost all of its mounts during the voyage. Whilst setting up the siege of Charleston (14th February-11th May, 1780), mounts were acquired by troops arriving from South Carolina. On the night of the 14th April, 1780 those mounts enabled the legion to attack Colonel Washington at Monck’s Corner capturing over 400 horses as a result. Just over three weeks later, the legion again defeated an American force at Lenud’s Ford, this time capturing 100 horses. The momentum of these victories (and the horses) must have helped when the Legion travelled at great speed to catch Buford’s forces at Waxhaws. This battle is steeped in controversy with the Americans labelling it a massacre. Long story short this battle gave Tarleton a ferocious reputation and he was nicknamed ‘bloody ban’. The legion then rejoined with Cornwallis’ main army were they participated in the complete rout of the Americans at Camden.

The legion’s fortunes then changed when they came up against Daniel Morgan at Cowpens. The result of this battle meant that the infantry wing of the legion was in tatters and would not regain its strength for the rest of the war. However, the legion did successfully participate in the skirmishes of Cowan’s Ford and Weitzel’s Mill before the bloody battle of Guilford Courthouse. This battle seemed to have taken the sting out of the British army in the south under Cornwallis. The legion still attempted to capture influential American delegates including Thomas Jefferson at Charlottesville, Virginia. The war then followed the legion into Virginia and the ill-fated posting in Yorktown. At Yorktown the British legion was posted at Gloucester point where they would face the French. After the surrender of Cornwallis, the British legion was eventually evacuated to Nova Scotia where they were taken on the British establishment as the 5th American Regiment on 25th December 1782. However, the legion was to be disbanded within a year on 10th October, 1783.

Currently I have only completed 12 legion infantry but I plan to add a cavalry arm to the legion and another 6 infantry.

Battle List
Elements of the Legion participate in the siege of Savannah, Georgia
14th February- 11th May Siege of Charleston:
14th April, Monck’s Corner, South Carolina.
6th May, Lenud’s Ford, South Carolina.
29th May, Waxhaws South Carolina.
16th August, Camden, South Carolina.
18th August, Fishing Creek, South Carolina.
20th November, Blackstock’s Farm, South Carolina.
17th January, Cowpens, South Carolina. (Infantry lost)
1st February, Cowan’s Ford, North Carolina.
2nd February, Torrence's Tavern, North Carolina.
6th March Weitzel’s Mill, North Carolina.
15th March, Guilford Courthouse, North Carolina. (Tarleton wounded)
4th June, Charlottesville, Virginia.
6th July, Green Springs, Virginia.
1st September, Siege of Yorktown, Virginia

Edit: Looking at the pictures, the figures have come out with a shine on them. In reality they are matt and yet to be varnished. Any tips on varnish or how to get a better picture would be very welcome.

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