The genesis for this article comes from a blog in which a historian recently wrote of Banastre Tarleton: “Although a skilled cavalryman, he occasionally acted in a manner unbecoming an officer. In other words, he butchered soldiers and treated civilians cruelly. In another century, Bansatre Tarleton would have been a war criminal.” The purpose of this article is to examine whether this supposition is true in light of the British and American Articles of War in effect at the time of the Revolutionary War and customary law that had developed prior to the late 18th Century. The article concludes that under both the British and American Articles of War and under customary “Law of Nations,” Banastre Tarleton personally committed war crimes and was culpable under the principle of command responsibility for some of the war crimes his dragoons committed while serving under his command.
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