The Tracy Family History
Waxhaws Battlefield

Photo by Ron Stevenson

    In one of the mistaken quirks by historians, the Battle of Waxhaws was not the Battle of Waxhaws. This was another encounter four months later, also in the Waxhaws.
    Where Captain Adam Wallace was slain is actually the Battle of Buford, or Buford's Defeat, or Buford's Massacre. Yet, it has gone down in history as the Battle of Waxhaws. The British (again Tories) lost 12 dead and 80 wounded in this second battle. Tarleton lost this one.
    To find the site it is best to go to Lancaster, South Carolina, and first visit the church. Anyone can direct you to the church. Ask how to get to the community of Buford, about nine miles east from the church. Go to the Highway junction of 9 and 522. Roadside marker says battlefield site is 955 feet southwest. The 2-acre site is owned by the county while the surrounding land is privately owned. (Ron Stevenson says go to Buford, turn right and the battlefield is on the right approximately 500 yards. Large brick sign and historical marker.)
    This is private property so it would be a good idea that you asked permission of the owner before wandering about.


                                Tarleton approached down this road. (Photo by Ron Stevenson)




                            A more recent photo of mass grave with a new fence. (Photo by Ron Stevenson)

    This is the mass grave, which holds the bodies of 84 soldiers. Because he was killed outright on the first day, their captain, Adam Wallace, would be buried here with his men.
    At the head of the mass grave stands a 15-foot obelisk, which was placed there in 1860. In time this impressive monument became weather beaten and chipped away by souvenir hunters. The inscriptions could no longer be read. In 1955, a new marker was placed at the site. However, the obelisk of 1860, still stands proudly as a testament to our people who fought and died here.
    John Plyler, one of the locals, did the best he could at cleaning up the old obelisk so that the inscriptions could be better read. It is a beautiful spot that no one ever sees, for few are even aware of its existence.
    The second grave is unmarked and unknown. It is believed to be 300 yards east of the mass grave. Most of the locals are not even aware that there is a second grave.
    Ron Stevenson gives us his theory that the battle site is actually larger than what the experts believe. This is because the soldiers grounded their weapons, and when further attacked, then ran in scattered directions. If the second grave is 300 yards from the first, then this gives you some idea of the size of the battlefield.
    Except for Adam Wallace, the names of the fallen soldiers remains unknown.

    The three Virginia colours (flags) captured at Waxhaws by Banastre Tarleton have been in the possession of Tarleton's descendants in England for the last 225 years. These are not his direct descendants, as he had no children. In January of 2006, David Redden, Vice Chairman of Sotheby's was kind enough to notify me that the three flags, (also a fourth flag captured by Tarleton in 1779), were coming up for sale at Sotheby's in New York on June 14, 2006. Seller was Capt. Christopher Tarleton Fagan. The single purchaser of all four flags chooses to remain anonymous. Purchase price was $17,392,000. (That is 17 million.)
    On June 15, 2007 PBS ran a one hour TV documentary titled 'The American Flag: Two Centuries of Concord and Conflict.' This TV special was to commemorate Flag Day. The first few minutes deals with our Waxhaws flags coming up for auction at Sotheby's. The flags are shown. The remainder of the program deals with the history of the American flag up to today. The last few minutes of the program comes back to our Waxhaws flags.
    Included in the program is the riveting auction itself and the following information: It is believed that there were 500 different Revolutionary War flags. Of that vast number only 30 exists today. This means that our families' three Waxhaws flags make up 10% of these historical remnants. One of the Waxhaws flags is the first ever to show the 13 stars. What is significant about the Waxhaws flags is that they were known to be in battle. Also...this is the most money ever paid for any flag anywhere in the history of the world!
    It is hoped by historians and experts in this field that the purchaser can be persuaded to put our families' flags on public display.
    I suspect that this TV special will be rerun every Flag Day, which is June 14. It is a must see for all of our cousins. Check your TV schedule for this program around that date.
    If you see the movie, "Amazing Grace" (2007, starring Ioan Gruffudd), you will see Col. Tarleton (now Lord Tarleton) as the archenemy of William Wilberforce. The story is about Wilberforce's efforts in the British Parliament to end the slave trade. For years Tarleton, from his bench in Parliament, taunts and ridicules Wilberforce . Tarleton's family is heavily involved in the slave trade. Tarleton held the seat from Liverpool, which port was heavily invested in the slave trade: building, outfitting, repairing slave ships and financing the business.
    In his first movie scene he shows his right hand, missing two fingers, and taunts Wilberforce saying, "When I was in Virginia losing my fingers in battle with the Americans..."

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