Ban Tarleton (1754-1833)
& Georgie Hanger (1751-1824):
the Frankie & Dino or Withnail & I of 1780!

Ban, by Reynolds, 1782

The Intrepid Duo

by MAX
[Bracketted additions] by Doc M

Before Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin, there was Banastre Tarleton and George Hanger. Unbelievable as it may seem to those conditioned by Hollywood to remember the British as snivelling tea-fetishists, these two cavalry gallants broke more heads, fired more drams, and, in short, had more FUN than any two officers in either side. And that includes the French.

Sociologically, they made an odd pair: Hanger's father, a Gloucestershire squire who later inherited an Irish barony [Lord Coleraine]; Tarleton's, a slave trader who bankrolled privateers in his spare time [and was Lord Mayor of Liverpool]. But both had managed to survive an expensive education with libido intact. Tarleton spent his time at Oxford shouting rude epigrams from theatre boxes and impressing faro dealers with the stylistic elegance of his IOUs. At Eton, Hanger often risked "breaking my neck," rappelling from a boarding-house roof en route to assignations with "a daughter of a vendor of cabbages."

But, with the outbreak of the American War, both youngsters quickly proved that human faults can be military virtues. Tarleton's exhibitionistic ferocity catapulted him from a humble cornetcy to the command of the British Legion, a brigade-sized flying column composed of equal parts mounted dragoons and light infantry. Hanger, once bounced from the Coldstream Guards for duelling, talked himself into a Hessian captaincy. Upon meeting Hanger in Charleston, Tarleton recognised him for a kindred spirit and awarded him command of the Legion cavalry. For the next few months, the two led the Legion to victories at Camden and Hanging Rock, reserving their free moments for what biographer Robert Bass calls a "train of strumpets, dogs, and monkeys."

Georgie, by Beach, c. 1782-3

Even defeat couldn't separate the dynamic duo. In postwar England, Hanger and Tarleton formed the core of the Prince of Wales' Rat Pack. When not racing turkeys against geese or orchestrating riots on behalf of Whig candidates, the two carried on epic romances. Tarleton's inamorata was the poetess Mary Darby Robinson, whose polemics against marriage have just begun to earn recognition from feminist critics. Hanger, more gourmand than gourmet, preferred professionals, whom he eulogized in his memoirs as "The Lovely Cyprians."

Tarleton turned apostate in 1798, when faltering finances and a midlife crisis led him to marry the illegitimate daughter of his old friend Robert Bertie, 4th Duke of Ancaster. [Ban died a reformed character under Susan Priscilla's pious influence! (Her father Bob had been Georgie's predecessor as Ban's sidekick, equally hard-drinking and riotous, but, having returned home from America to inherit his estates, he had succumbed to scarlet fever aged only 23, leaving his mistress Rebecca Krudener and newborn daughter well-provided for on his deathbed.)

[In 1800, before Susan had quite succeeded in training him, Ban managed to beget a daughter on a Russian woman called Kolina. The child, a daughter, was baptised on 26 May 1801 at St. Pancras, London, with him named officially as her father. She was christened Banina Georgiana Tarleton.

Susan wrote Ban's epitaph at Leintwardine. It need only be remarked that she was a better artist (she produced a fine portrait of her husband in 17C armour!) than poet...]

Near this spot are deposited the remains of Sir Banastre Tarleton--Baronet--General in the Army--Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the Bath, Governor of Berwick-on-Tweed, Colonel of the Gallant 8th Hussars--He represented his native town of Liverpool and closed his distinguished career in this place Jan. 16, 1833.
He was a tender-hearted husband, an indulgent master and liberal benefactor to the poor. This monument is raised by his bereaved widow as a testimony of her affection. But he has a more imperishable memory in the annals of his country and the hearts of many friends.
He was a hero, his youth's idol, glory.
He courted on the battlefield of War
England exulted in her valiant son
And stamped his name for ever on her story

Time's trophy gained and sheathed the warrior's sword,
And sated him from the world's renown
To die the humble soldier of his Lord,
And change earth's laurel for a Heavenly crown.

Hanger remained a rake and a rebel to the bitter end: after a term in debtor's prison, he opened a coal dealership. "Black!" he retorted when asked how business was doing. "Black as ever!"

[He married his semi-literate cook/housekeeper, Mary Anne Katherine (c. 1776-1846), and had a son, John Greenwood Hanger, bap. 5 Sept. 1817 at St. Pancras, London.

George died on 31 March 1824, of a convulsive fit, near Regent's Park, leaving everything to his widow. Mrs. Mary Anne Hanger died aged 70 on 27 Dec 1846 at Ridgemount Place, Hampstead Road, (London), Middlesex. She left her whole estate (save £20) to John and his wife Mary.]



by Doc M

Ban, after miniature by Richard CoswayBan Tarleton has, unfortunately and rather unjustly, got a bad name as 'Bloody Ban', 'The Butcher of the Carolinas'. A myth has grown up, embodied by the negative caricature of him in The Patriot, that he had a deliberate "policy" of not taking prisoners and slaughtering surrendering troops: 'TARLETON'S QUARTER'. This is factually inaccurate.

Ban Tarleton took respectable numbers of prisoners in all his engagements. His legendary reputation stems from ONE battle only.

On 29 May 1780, Ban offered generous terms of surrender to Col. Abraham Buford and his Virginians, after catching up with them after an epic pursuit. He warned:

"I expect an answer to these propositions as soon as possible; if they are accepted, you will order every person under your command to pile his arms in one hour after you receive the flag: If you are rash enough to reject them, the blood be upon your head."

Buford rejected terms - and quarter - curtly, writing that he'd defend himself "until the last extremity". By which he meant until someone else's extremities, since, like Monty Python's famed Brave Sir Robin, he "bravely ran away" to report his own defeat, leaving his men in the lurch. Buford also mistakenly ordered his men to hold fire until close quarters - not a good idea for infantry facing cavalry! Tarleton was stuck under a dead horse, and his men had thought he'd been killed, so got out of control. Rebel casualties were high: about 113 killed, and some 150 wounded, as one might expect in a cavalry charge followed by a bayonet assault. However, 53 prisoners were taken, and medical attention obtained for the wounded prisoners who, unable to travel, were left behind on parole. That's 2 thirds of the Rebel force alive. The so-called Waxhaws 'massacre' was, however, a neat piece of propaganda to deflect attention from Buford's actions, for which he was court-martialled, but - with considerable luck - managed to get acquitted.

To get the measure of "Tarleton's Quarter" it is worth examining a couple of surprise attacks in which he could have inflicted serious massacres had he been so minded:

This preceded Waxhaws. Acting on intelligence from a Loyalist, Tarleton surprised White's cavalry on the Santee River, where they had met up with Abraham Buford's infantry: 41 Rebels were killed or wounded, 67 taken prisoner, and their Loyalist and British prisoners rescued. All the enemy's horses were captured.

Tarleton surprised and defeated Sumter - killing 150 men, capturing 300, with 44 supply wagons, and rescuing 100 Loyalist prisoners.

In reality, "Tarleton's Quarter" appears not ungenerous.

Indeed, the WORST inhumanity committed by Tarleton was committed in the House of Commons, not on the battlefield:
This was his defence of the slave trade in his long parliamentary career as Whig MP for the major slaving port of Liverpool. The economic interests of his constituents and of his own family's shipping business took priority. Interestingly, however, a difference of opinion on this one issue did not break up his friendship with Charles James Fox, a noted Abolitionist.

See also Marg's wonderful website
(with contribs by Holley, Janie, Max & yours truly):


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