According to Alexander Garden, author of two collections of Revolutionary War anecdotes published in the 1820s, this account was supplied to him directly by Henry Bowyer, who was serving as Buford's adjutant at the time of the battle. It is written in third person but since that was a common way to present eyewitness accounts, there is no way to determine how badly Garden paraphrased or edited Bowyer's letter for publication.
There are mixed opinions on the document. Some scholars dismiss it entirely due to the discrepencies between this description of the battle (in terms of tactics and troop movements) and those of other eyewitnesses, including Buford and Tarleton. There are also obvious errors, such as the claim that Buford's detachment was outnumbered. Even the sections relating to his own actions -- i.e., those most likely to still be accurately imprinted on his memory some forty years after the fact -- apparently contain direct contradictions to parts of Buford's account. (I can't see any obvious reason to consider Buford's version more trustworthy, unless it was recorded closer to the time of the action.)
[p126] PARTICULAR ACCOUNT OF COLONEL BEAUFORT'S DEFEAT.
COL. BEAUFORT commanded a detachment of three hundred men, whom he had collected at Petersburg, in Virginia, and marched them to the South, that they might join their respective Regiments in garrison in Charleston. Arriving at Lenud's Ferry on the Santee, he received intelligence of the surrender of the City, and being at a loss what course to pursue, sent an express to General Huger, the Continental officer of the highest rank in Carolina, for instructions. An order was received to retire to Hillsborough, in North-Carolina, taking Camden in the route, in order to remove the ammunition and military stores deposited there, together with thirty or forty British prisoners, previously captured. If unable to remove the stores, his orders were to destroy them. Colonel Beaufort executed the order with precision. On his arrival at Camden, such stores as could not be removed were thrown into a neighbouring creek, and his route continued via the Waxaw settlement, towards Hillsborough. On the morning of the day on which the corps was attacked, Captain Adam Wallace, (Beaufort having resolved to halt for a day, in order to refresh his horses, which, from the heavy loads which they drew, were nearly exhausted,) invited Adjutant Bowyer to walk out with him. The latter observing that the spirits of his companion were unusually depressed, inquired the cause, and was answered, "I have known, for two or three days, that I am to die on this day." Bowyer laughed at what he deemed idle superstition! Wallace became angry, and said, "You know full well, Sir, that I am not afraid of death. Whatever event may occur, I shall do my duty." The approach of a youth on horse-back, put an end to the conversation. -- "Where from, my lad," exclaimed Bowyer. "I left Ridgeley's mills this morning," he replied, "and on my way hither, passed a large body of troops, most of whom were mounted -- the rest well armed, and on foot." [p127] Wallace, turning quickly to Bowyer, asked "Do you not think my anticipations likely to be accomplished?" The lad was conducted to Colonel Beaufort, and, without the slightest deviation, repeated the information first communicated. The continuation of the retreat was instantaneously resumed, but the corps, had scarcely proceeded two miles, before the sound of Tarleton's bugles was heard, and a British officer was perceived riding forward, bearing a flag of truce. Adjutant Bowyer was instructed to meet him. Captain Kinloch, the advancing officer of the British, told Bowyer, that he could make no communication to him, and demanded a personal interview with Beaufort. A message to that effect being sent to the Colonel, he immediately repaired to the spot. Captain Kinloch then proposed, on the part of Tarleton, that Beaufort, and his detachment, should surrender as prisoners of war, on the same terms as those granted to the Garrison of Charleston, stating, at the same time, that his strength was upwards of six hundred men, half of them cavalry. The terms were, without hesitation, rejected by Beaufort, who did not believe that a force as strong could have reached the neighbourhood through which he was marching. Captain Kinloch assured him, on his honour, as a gentleman and officer, that his statement was correct; but, Beaufort, maintaining his opinion, dismissed the flag, returned to the ground where his detachment was drawn up, across the road, assembled his officers, and consulted with them on the subject of Tarleton's demand. The general opinion concurred with that of Beaufort. One officer, (Bowyer, thinks Captain Clayborne Lawson, of the 4th Virginia Regiment) proposed that the wagons should be brought together and a barrier to the enemy formed, behind which, the detachment should be posted. But, it was suggested that such a plan would probably further the views of the British commander, who might have sent forward only a small body of soldiers to amuse and detain Beaufort till a force adequate to his destruction could be brought up. Every arragement was, in the interim, made for action. The British Cavalry quickly appeared, and commenced an attack, which was unsuccessfully continued for about fifteen minutes, when Major M'Arthur, who commanded [p128] the Infantry, came up. The British force exceeded Beaufort's detachment in number. Weakened by a variety of extra duty, the command scarcely exceeded two hundred men. M'Arthur, attacked the left with the bayonet, while the Cavalry assaulted the right. The officers commanding platoons on Beaufort's left, being all killed, and the command thrown into confusion, Adjutant Bowyer was ordered to advance with a flag, and to say to Tarleton, that he was willing to accept the terms offered before the action began. The Adjutant remonstrated by saying, that as the firing still continued, the execution of the order would be impracticable, exposing the bearer of the flag to the shot of both parties. Beaufort repeated his orders, in positive terms, and the Adjutant rode forward, with a handkerchief displayed on the point of his sword. When close to the British commander, he delivered Beaufort's message, but a ball at the moment striking the forehead of Tarleton's horse, he plunged and both fell to the ground, the horse being uppermost. Extricated by his men from so perilous a position, the exasperated Colonel rose from the ground, and ordered the soldiers to despatch him. They immediately gathered round, and several cuts were made at him, which he had the good fortune to parry and avoid. By this time, Captain John Stokes and Lieut. Willison, who occupied a position opposite to that where the Adjutant was surrounded by the British Dragoons, and saw the danger impending over him, directed their platoons to fire at the group. They were well obeyed, and the bullets thrown among the party around the Adjutant, frightening the horses, gave him an opportunity of dashing through them, and effecting his escape unhurt. His horse was seriously wounded, but not sufficiently so to prevent his carrying his master to a place of security. The overwhelming force of the British then prevailed, and a dreadful massacre of the detachment followed. The rage of the British soldiers, excited by the continued fire of the Americans, while a negotiation was offered by flag, impelled them to acts of vengeance that knew no limits. Captain Adam Wallace, too truly predicted his own death. He fought with consummate intrepidity as long as he had strength to raise his arm, and though quarter was tendered, refused to surrender.
[Source: Alexander Garden, Anecdotes of the American Revolution. Illustrative of the Talents and Virtues of the Heroes of the Revolution, Who Acted the Most Conspicuous Parts Therein, 3 vols. (Brooklyn, New York, 1865), 3:126-128. Note: Volume 3 of this reprint set was originally published as a single volume, in 1828, under the same title.]
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