How many of you saw the movie, The Patriot? Remember how evil British Colonel Tavington was? Tavington was a fictional character based in part on Lt. Col. Banastre Tarleton. Tarleton served under Lord Cornwallis during the American War of Independence. Like Tavington, Tarleton adhered to the concept of "total war" (civilians who helped the enemy were the enemy), but, apparently, with a "kind spirit" -- whatever that means!
|Jason Isaacs as Col Tavington (photo courtesy of Columbia Pictures)|
|The real Lt Col Banastre Tarleton (image courtesy of LegendsofAmerica.com)|
"Cornwallis' order to Lt Col Tarleton, dated 8 Jul 1781, directed him to set out the next day on his raid of Southside Virginia. The force consisted of "the corps of cavalry and mounted infantry under your command" and the destination was Prince Edward Courthouse, and from thence to New London in Bedford County" The object was the destruction of the military stores, to cripple the subsistence of Greene's army in Carolina. The order set forth, "all public stores of corn and provisions are to be burned, and if there should be a quantity of provisions or corn collected at a private house. . .destroy it, leaving enough for the support of the family," etc.: "all persons of consequence, civil or military, brought to me before they are paroled."
Tarleton's force consisted of the British Legion and 80 mounted infantry (the returns of the surrender at Yorktown show 241 men in the Legion.) A detachment was left at Suffolk to receive him on his return; also to intercept any American light troops on the way northward from Carolina, or any British prisoners. The command left Cobham on 9 Jul 1781 and made long movements in the mornings and evenings, thus avoiding heat and darkness. The troops soon reached Petersburg and advanced to Prince Edward Courthouse, and from there toward the Dan River. The stores, which were the principal object of the expedition, had been sent from Prince Edward to Hillsboro and Greene's army about a month before. Tarleton halted two days in Bedford. He returned by a different route, completing an expedition of 400 miles in 15 days, and rejoined the troops at Suffolk.
Tarleton's dragoons captured old James Cooke at Jennings Ordinary. He lived there at the time and was perhaps the first resident of the Ordinary. A dragoon make Cooke mount behind him on the horse and carried him to Tarleton's headquarters, which were then at the home of old Charles Knight, who lived at Burkeville. On the way, the soldier took Cooke's silver shoe and knee buckles. At headquarters, Tarleton made the man restore them and sent Cooke home. The soldier, however, waylaid him on the return and got the buckles.
Photo courtesy of the Nottoway Historical Association
|Old Map of Nottoway County|
My grandmother thinks Tarleton behaved, in the main, generously towards the inhabitants during the raid. He visited Captain Jo Fowlkes' mother, a widow, who lived in Prince Edward, and turned a chair down for a pillow and lay on the floor to rest. He set guards to watch and did not allow anything to be molested. He would always rebuke his men for depredations and in many instances showed a kind spirit."
W. R. Turner's book, Old Homes and Families in Nottoway, describes Jennings Ordinary:
Jennings Ordinary in Nottoway County was first settled by Col William Jennings, who was born in England and died in Amelia, now Nottoway County, in 1775. The house in which Col Jennings lived is still standing, an old tavern from which Jennings Ordinary received its name. Col Jennings married Mary Jan Pulliam of Hanover County in 1724. He is supposed to have been the heir to the Jennings fortune about which there has been so much litigation in recent years.I wrote about the inheritance here and here.