& Georgie Hanger
& Dino or
Withnail & I
by Reynolds, 1782
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.
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
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
He was a hero, his youth's idol,
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
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,
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.]
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
that he had a deliberate "policy" of not taking prisoners and
slaughtering surrendering troops: 'TARLETON'S QUARTER'. This is
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,
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
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:
LENUD'S or LANNEAU'S
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
In reality, "Tarleton's Quarter" appears
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):