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September 2, 2008

A fresh look at one of the American Revolution's greatest villains

In conjunction with the DeWitt Wallace Decorative Arts Museum’s yearlong exhibition, “Captured Colors: Four Battleflags of the American Revolution,” the museum hosts a special lecture by author Anthony Scotti on British cavalry officer Lt. Col. Banastre Tarleton, the man who “captured the colors” in two separate battles during the Revolutionary War. The flags remained Tarleton family heirlooms for more than 200 years before being purchased by an anonymous collector at auction in May 2006. They currently are on loan to The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation and are on display through Jan. 2009.

“Brutal Virtue” will be presented 5 p.m. Saturday, Sept.20 in the Hennage Auditorium at the DeWitt Wallace Decorative Arts Museum. A Colonial Williamsburg admission ticket or Good Neighbor Card provides access to this program.

Banastre Tarleton has long been demonized as one of the great villains of the American Revolution. Infamous for his “take no prisoners” approach to warfare, Tarleton acquired the nicknames “Bloody Ban,” and “The Butcher” from his American adversaries and was the inspiration for the ruthless Col. William Tavington in the 2000 Mel Gibson film “The Patriot.” But in his book, “Brutal Virtue: The Myth and Reality of Banastre Tarleton,” Anthony Scotti seeks to separate the man from his outrageous reputation, arguing for a more objective view of Tarleton’s military career independent of the legends that grew up around it.

Scotti’s hour-long talk will examine Tarleton and his legion’s bloody reputation on and off the battlefield, the controversial circumstances surrounding the capture of the four American battleflags featured in the “Captured Colors” exhibition, and Tarleton’s legacy in Revolutionary lore. As part of the program, Scotti will engage the audience in a more candid discussion of Tarleton and his place in history.

The Museums of Colonial Williamsburg include the Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Folk Art Museum and the DeWitt Wallace Decorative Arts Museum. Entrance to the Museums of Colonial Williamsburg is through the Public Hospital of 1773 at 326 W. Francis Street. Operating hours are 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. For information and reservations call (757) 220-7724.

Established in 1926, the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation is the not-for-profit educational institution that preserves and operates the restored 18th-century Revolutionary capital of Virginia as a town-sized living history museum, telling the inspirational stories of our nation’s founding men and women. Within the restored and reconstructed buildings, historic interpreters, attired as colonial men and women from slaves to shopkeepers to soldiers, relate stories of colonial Virginia society and culture – stories of our journey to become Americans – while historic trades people research, demonstrate and preserve the 18th-century world of work and industry. As Colonial Williamsburg interprets life in the time of the American Revolution for its guests, it also invites them to interact with history. “Revolutionary City®,” a dramatic live street theater presentation, is a 2008 Rand McNally Best-of-the-Road™ Editor’s Pick. Williamsburg is located in Virginia’s Tidewater region, 20 minutes from Newport News, within an hour’s drive of Richmond and Norfolk, and 150 miles south of Washington, D.C., off Interstate 64. For more information about Colonial Williamsburg, call 1-800-HISTORY or visit Colonial Williamsburg’s Web site at

Media Contact:
Jim Bradley
(757) 220-7281