Francis Marion

Francis Marion

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Francis Marion was born near Georgetown in Berkeley County, South Carolina. After receiving a basic education in local schools, Marion went to sea at age 15 and later served with his brother in the French and Indian War. In the early 1760s, he served under William Moultrie in the fighting against the Cherokee.Turning from military to domestic matters, Marion became a successful planter in St. Increasing prosperity brought him into active participation in public affairs, where he emerged as an advocate for the rights of American colonists in the face of oppressive British policies.With the outbreak of war in 1775, Francis Marion became increasingly prominent in the Patriot cause. He also fought in a number of the early battles in the South, again under Moultrie, including the clash at Fort Sullivan in February 1776.In September 1778, Marion was commissioned as the commander of the South Carolina Second State Regiment and in the following year, he fought under Benjamin Lincoln at the second Battle of Savannah. A broken ankle kept Marion out of action during part of 1780 and allowed him to escape capture at the fall of Charleston in May.Francis Marion responded to the British victory at Camden in August 1780 by leading a series of successful nighttime guerilla-style raids against the British supply and communication lines, and against small concentrations of British or Loyalist soldiers. In December 1780, he was promoted to brigadier general under Nathanael Greene.In 1781, Marion participated in the protracted fighting in the Carolinas that culminated at Eutaw Springs in September. The Americans were forced from the field, but British losses compelled them to pull back to Charleston and their war plan deteriorated rapidly in the following weeks.After the war, Francis Marion served in the South Carolina Senate and sponsored legislative measures designed to provide fair treatment for the remaining Loyalists. In 1790, he was a delegate to the state constitutional convention and was a supporter of the new federal governing document.He died on his estate on February 27, 1795.

Francis Marion

A portrait of Marion and a captive British officer

Francis Marion, the “Swamp Fox,” was born at his family’s plantation in Berkeley County, South Carolina in 1732. A planter, Marion built his home, Pond Bluff, in 1773 in the area of Eutaw Springs, a site now beneath the waters of Lake Marion. His first military service, like Thomas Sumter’s, came in the Cherokee War (1759-1761), part of the larger French and Indian War. His experience in frontier warfare against the Cherokees likely influenced his partisan warfare tactics against the British and loyalists from 1780-82 in South Carolina.

In 1775, Marion was a member of the South Carolina Provincial Congress. On June 21, he was commissioned a captain in the 2nd South Carolina Regiment under Colonel William Moultrie. He was present at the famous Battle of Sullivan’s Island on June 28, 1776 when approximately 400 South Carolinians successfully repulsed a Royal Navy fleet attacking Charleston Harbor.

After the victory, he was commissioned a lieutenant colonel in the Continental Army. Marion commanded the Second South Carolina Regiment at the disastrous Franco-American siege of Savannah in autumn 1779. Fortunately for the patriot cause, Marion was recovering at his estate from an injury, incurred from jumping out of a second-story window to leave a party in which the series of toasts had led to distasteful drunkenness, when Charleston fell to the British in May 1780. Escaping to North Carolina, he and a small party joined General Horatio Gates’s army but was not present with the force at the defeat at Camden in August.

Marion challenged British rule in the South Carolina lowcountry after these two military disasters and targeted British lines of communication and supply. His tactics frustrated British efforts to mobilize loyalists in the Georgetown District. Between August and December 1780, Marion gained national recognition for his actions at Great Savannah, Black Mingo, Tearcoat Swamp, and Georgetown. British Lieutenant Colonel Banastre Tarleton, sent to find and neutralize Marion and his men, despaired given the difficulty of the mission, stating “as for this old Fox, the Devil himself could not catch him!”

Marion, unlike Thomas Sumter, coordinated effectively in the field with the Continental Army, led by Maj. Gen. Nathanael Greene. Together with “Light Horse” Harry Lee’s Legion, Marion captured Fort Watson on the Santee River in April 1781 and then Fort Motte in May, forcing the British to evacuate Camden. Marion commanded South Carolina militia in advance lines along with Brig. Gen. Andrew Pickens at the Battle of Eutaw Springs in September 1781, the last major battle in the Carolinas, in which the British suffered so many casualties they ceased further inland campaigning.

Following victory over the British, Marion returned to his plantation and pursued a career in politics. He served several terms in the South Carolina State Senate and also received the honorary position of commander of Fort Johnson in 1784, for which he received a stipend of $500 annually. He died on his estate in 1795 and was buried at Belle Isle Plantation Cemetery in Berkeley County, South Carolina.

Marion was a grandson of Benjamin Marion and Louise d'Aubrey, Huguenots who were driven from France and came to South Carolina in 1690. Their son, Gabriel, married Esther Cordes, and Francis was the youngest of the six children of this marriage.

The family settled at Winyah, near Georgetown, South Carolina. Marion was born in midwinter, 1732, at Goatfield Plantation in St. James Parish, Berkeley County. When he was five or six, his family moved to a plantation in St. George, a parish on Winyah Bay. Apparently, they wanted to be near the English school in Georgetown.

When Francis was 15, he decided to become a sailor. He signed on as the sixth crewman of a schooner heading for the West Indies. As they were returning, a whale rammed the schooner and caused a plank to come loose. The captain and crew escaped in a boat, but the schooner sank so quickly that they were unable to take any food or water. After six days under the tropical sun, two crewmen died of thirst and exposure. The following day, the survivors reached shore.

Returning home, Marion assisted his father in the care of his small plantation. In 1759, a year or two after his father's death, he became the owner of his own plantation at Pond Bluff, which was his home for the rest of his life. Ώ]

Shortly after he settled on his new plantation, a war with the Cherokee Indians began. It is supposed that Marion took part in Colonel Montgomery's expedition to the Indian country in 1760, but there is some uncertainty on this point. In 1761, the command in South Carolina devolved upon Colonel James Grant, of the Royal Scots, and he was assisted by a regiment of 1,200 state troops under Colonel Middleton. In this regiment, Marion served as lieutenant, under the immediate command of Captain William Moultrie.

His regiment marched from Fort Prince George on June 7, 1761, and a few days afterward fought a bloody battle with the Indians at Etchoee. The conflict was soon over and from this time until 1775, Marion seems to have lived quietly on his plantation.

The Swamp Fox

His sneaky, guerrilla style of warfare was so effective, The Marion Militia were soon hated and feared by the British troops. Marion himself earned the nickname “Swamp Fox” due to his stealth and cunning. Finally, the British troops in the area could take no more and sent Lieutenant Colonel Banastre Tarleton to track down Francis and his men. However, he despaired after chasing the militia 26 miles through swampy paths to no avail. He exclaimed in exasperation, “As for this damned old fox, the Devil himself could not catch him.”

His chance to really prove himself came at the Battle of Camden when he set out to join Major General Horatio Gates. However, Gates had no faith in Francis, so he assigned him to take command of the Williamsburg Militia and go on scouting missions. Although he missed the battle, Marion took advantage of his opportunity and led his militia to many victories. The Marion Militia would rarely engage with enemies in head-on warfare. They were stealthy and defeated many larger enemy groups. Because of this, Marion is known as one of the fathers of modern guerrilla warfare.

After his time in the service he returned home to find his plantation had been burned down during the fighting. He was receiving a salary of $500 per year and found himself a new home. He finally married at 54 years old to his 49 year old cousin. He worked hard to protect the Tories who were being tortured and abused for their continued loyalty to the crown. Francis Marion died in his estate at the age of 63 in 1795.



Named for Revolutionary War hero Francis Marion (the “Swamp Fox”), the Francis Marion Hotel became an instant Charleston landmark when it opened in 1924. Rising 12 stories above the Historic District, the hotel offers spectacular views of Charleston’s church steeples, historic mansions, and famous harbor, providing easy access to the wealth of Charleston’s attractions.

An award-winning restoration in 1996 refurbished all of the 234 guestrooms and suites, which now feature plush furnishings and marble baths. Located downtown on Marion Square, the hotel is within walking distance of the magnificent gardens, house museums, antique shops, local boutiques, restaurants, and nightlife that has made Charleston one of the south’s premier cities.

With such on-site amenities as Spa Adagio, the Swamp Fox Restaurant and Bar, Starbucks, and 18,000 square feet of meeting space, no one will fault you if you end up staying inside the Francis Marion Hotel for the duration of your stay.

Francis Marion Hotel, a member of Historic Hotels of America since 1999.

Looking for the perfect gift for any occasion? Give the gift of a stay at the historic Francis Marion Hotel or a dinner at the Swamp Fox Restaurant.

Detrek Browning stayed true to FMU and became the school’s all-time leading scorer

In an early January game against Clayton State, Detrek Browning waited calmly behind the three-point line while teammate Brandon Parker battled for a loose ball in the lane. Eventually, Parker swatted the ball towards Browning, who gathered it in, paused to set himself and casually flipped in a three-pointer that etched his name into a prominent place in the FMU record books. With that relatively unremarkable basket, Browning became something quite remarkable — the leading career scorer in the school’s almost 50-year-old history.

That the record-setter came on a routine play is not surprising. Browning’s calling card as a player is his ability to score, seemingly without effort to make a unique ability to find ways to put ball basket appear quite ordinary.

What was remarkable about the play is that Browning was around to do it at all.

FMU Basketball standout Detrek Browning

The dynamics of college basketball at all levels have changed dramatically in the past decade. Players move regularly and easily from school to school, looking for the next bit of slightly greener grass and there is not much hard-working coaches and schools can do about it. Their path is fraught with peril.

Bring a player along too slowly and he will leave for a situation where he can play/shoot/start more often. But, bring them along too quickly, develop them too well – and this is especially true for programs at Division II schools like FMU — and bigger schools will come calling. They can’t recruit a player, per se, until he puts his name on the NCAA’s official transfer list (which numbers each year in the thousands) but word gets around. Pssst. If your name is on that list. …

After he averaged 20.1 points a game for FMU in 2015-16, officially his sophomore season, word got around to Browning. There were schools out there – Division I schools – who were interested. And Browning knew the drill. Friends, foes, even some of his teammates, had gone that route.

“I was hearing from a few people,” Browning says, “and people were in my ear, telling me to go, that this was my big chance. But …”

Browning shakes his head, shrugs his shoulders. The big decision, he says, was really no decision at all.

“Man, after all (FMU) has done for me … I mean, they were there for me when no one else was,” says Browning. “And the people here have always been great. This is where I belong. I wasn’t going anywhere. I guess maybe coach was worried, but I wasn’t leaving. “

Gary Edwards, Browning’s coach at FMU, admits to some nervousness during the spring in question. But those days are long past now and recalling them now brings a smile to Edwards’ face.

“Detrek’s done a lot of neat things here, made a lot of big plays, and he’ll always be one of my favorites,” says Edwards, “but if you ask me what I’ll remember most that’s it. It’s that loyalty that Detrek showed. That’s a rare quality. It’s better than all those points he scored.”

Things happen

Maybe Detrek Browning never should have wound up at FMU in the first place.

He wasn’t exactly a secret coming out of Irmo (S.C.) High School, just north of Columbia. Irmo, led by legendary coach Tim Whipple, is one of the premier high school basketball programs in South Carolina and Detrek Browning did nothing during his time with the Yellowjackets to lessen that.

Browning played three varsity seasons at Irmo and helped the team win two state championships. In his senior year Irmo went 29-0 — Whipple’s only unbeaten squad in 37 years at the helm — and captured Whipple’s fifth state title.

Browning may not have been — may being the key word — the best player on a team that also included University of South Carolina recruit Justin McKie. But he wasn’t a secret. He was receiving significant recruiting attention by his junior year and had a number of Division I programs giving him long looks.

But … things happened. One program that seemed like a sure thing signed another guard and never called Browning again. Another changed coaches. And so on.

Whipple says it was clear to him — then and now — that Browning belonged on a Division I roster.

“Oh, there’s no doubt that the could play at that level,” says Whipple. “But you know, coaches look at things … it’s tough. He (Browning) was a little small maybe, kind of got in that in-between thing position wise. Was he a point guard or a shooting guard? He didn’t play much point for us until his senior year. But maybe he’s a little small for a D-I shooting guard, maybe he’s not that fast … So …”

So, early that year, one Edwards’ assistants at FMU saw Browning play and suggested the Patriots make a run at him. Edwards saw him and quickly agreed — “best point guard I saw all year,” Edwards said.

Edwards found out Browning’s recruiting had taken a funny turn and put on the full court press. When Browning came for his official visit, Edwards offered him a full scholarship on the spot.

Browning held out for a little while, waiting for the “better” offer that never came. Eventually his own good sense — all who know him see him as an extremely well-grounded person — and a little hectoring from his mom made him a Patriot.

“I kept thinking, ‘maybe a bigger school will offer me something,’” Browning says. “Meanwhile, mom is saying, ‘are you crazy? They’re offering you a full scholarship. They really want you. You know what? She was right.”

Red-shirt tears

Though a polished player for a freshman, Browning arrived on the FMU campus to find Evrik Gary — the number three scorer in school history — already ensconced in the point guard role. Edwards and the Patriot staff persuaded Browning that the thing to do was sit out — redshirt is the term — his freshman season, just as Gary had done.

The move made sense, but it’s easier said than done. Redshirts spend all the practice time that regular players do but don’t get to play in the games, can’t even travel with the team to away contests.

“You’re really on your own a lot of times and have to stay focused to keep working on things, getting better, on your own,” says Browning. “That’s a good thing. There’s a lot to get used to moving from high school to college. It helped with basketball, with school, with everything. I tell everyone now ‘Redshirt. That’s the way to do it. It’s the best thing I’ve ever done.’ But it’s not easy. I’ll have to say there were a few nights where a few tears were shed. “

Conserving energy

One point — not the first point, but a point all the same — that Browning would make about his game, about the way he plays basketball is that he can dunk the ball.

“Most definitely,” says Browning. “I actually have two dunks in games (at FMU). I guess there could have been more — fans would like it — but it’s not something I was ever that excited about. A bucket is a bucket. I’d rather conserve my energy.”

Good at energy conservation. Now there’s a line that doesn’t show up on many scouting reports. But that aspect of Detrek Browning, basketball player, says about as much about his game as any. He glides around the court, under control, moving from place to place — moving from the right place to the right place — with a studied nonchalance that lulls opponents, fans and even his own coach into a state of disinterest.

“He’s one of those guys,” says FMU’s Edwards, “where you pick up the stat sheet afterwards and you say, ’Twenty-five points? How’d he do that? I didn’t see that.’ He’s very, very smooth.”

Browning’s chief skill is an absolute intangible. He has innate understanding of the game that allows him to see plays before they develop.

“It doesn’t just happen,” explains Browning. “I’ve had some very good coaches. And I do think about all the plays. I just think about them five or 10 seconds before they happen.”

Which is five or 10 (or more) seconds ahead of most.

Speed, shooting kill

The awards and honors are piling up fast in Browning’s final season. He’s been the Peach Belt Conference Player of the Week four times (through January), set the FMU single game scoring mark (41 points) in early January and is clearly poised to post-season accolades as well.

It’s all well-deserved, but still surprising all the same for Browning seldom looks like the best athlete on the floor. The 6-0, 180-pounder is a little stocky as basketball players go, and doesn’t have the chiseled musculature of some. His two dunks aside, he is not a great leaper, and he’s probably not the fastest guy around either, although as dozens of oft-burned Peach Belt Conference foes would attest, he is plenty fast enough.

Browning comes from a very athletic family. His mom (Carlissa), various uncles and aunts and cousins all played college sports. His brother is a good bit heavier than Detrek, “but can still beat me in a race. He can fly.

“My uncle (Milton Kershaw) who played football in college and is just crazy fast, taught me early on that speed kills,” says Browning. “It’s the most important part of most sports. But it’s not necessarily who is fastest. It’s who can be fast when they need to be.”

Browning is a fine defender (he will finish his career among FMU’s all-time leader in steals, too), but what sets him apart are his offensive skills. In Browning’s mind — a good place to start for analyzing basketball — the key skill is shooting. He has simple mechanics and feel for the shot that came to him almost from the moment he took up the game — he hit a long buzzer beater to win the championship game in his first year of organized basketball at age 12.

“If you can shoot the basketball, I mean really shoot it, you are basically unguardable,” Browning says. “Try to stop the shot and it’s a fake and I’m by you for a pull up (jumper) or a layup. Try to stop that and …. “

His voice trails off. Another basketball thought has popped into a mind that processes such information at an astonishing rate.

“It’s always amazing to me the number of basketball players — Division I players — really can’t shoot,” says Browning. “That’s kind of the point of the game isn’t it?”

The Gary plan

Browning plans to follow in the footsteps of his former teammate Gary and play basketball professionally for as long as he can. Gary has been on an oddball world tour since he left FMU — Luxembourg, Bulgaria, Dubuque, Iowa and now, Cyprus — but he’s got a suitcase full of memorable experiences and … he’s still playing. The dream is still alive.

Browning understands. He knows he can play at a very high level and is eager to prove it, even if that means traveling some strange roads and learning even greater patience.

Whenever that is done, Browning suspects his long-term future lies … in coaching. He’s a Dean’s List student who’ll graduate in May with a degree in Psychology, and reservoir of knowledge that he thinks will translate nicely in that field.

“I seem to have a pretty good understanding of basketball,” says Browning. “I think that (coaching) could work out.”

Francis Marion: The Swamp Fox

Y ou won’t find much information about Francis Marion in American history textbooks today. Marion did not serve in the Continental Congress or the Constitutional Convention, and he never held a position in the federal government. Yet, without him, the American War for Independence may have taken a decidedly different direction. Washington rightfully received generous accolades after the war as the great hero of the Revolution, and Franklin was the diplomatic mastermind who secured needed French assistance, but Marion, the able and determined hero of the “swamps” who fought a rear-guard guerilla war to save his state from British occupation, has disappeared from our historical consciousness. His reputation has been revived in recent years, due in part to Mel Gibson’s The Patriot, which had a Marion-like hero, but he still presents problems for the politically correct interpretation of the Founding generation and has generally not received the attention he deserves.

Marion was born in 1732 at St. John’s Parish, Berkeley County, South Carolina in the American colonies, to Gabriel and Esther Marion. The Marion family arrived in South Carolina in 1690 as part of a wave of French Huguenots seeking refuge in North America. Marion was a puny and sickly child, the “size of a lobster” at birth as one contemporary joked. He spent his youth at his father’s plantation on the Santee Canal, and with the exception of one tragic foray into a life at sea, he remained there until his father died in 1758. Marion moved to Pond Bluff shortly thereafter and established himself as a prosperous and well respected planter.

Like many in the Founding generation, Marion received his first taste of combat on the frontier in bloody and brutal engagements against American Indian tribes. When tensions rose between the Cherokee and white settlements from Pennsylvania to Georgia in 1759, several state militias were called out to quell the distress. South Carolina mustered a considerable force, and Marion volunteered for service. The war spirit died down for a time, but after several Cherokee chiefs were butchered at a remote South Carolina outpost in 1761, the Cherokee nation called for war. Marion again answered the call of his state and this time saw action as a lieutenant in the militia. He led his men in a desperate attack on a fortified Cherokee position and took part in the subsequent burning of Cherokee towns and crops. He lamented his role in this destruction and said he could “scarcely refrain from tears” when ordered to burn fields of mature corn. The only ones who suffered were the “little Indian children” who would know that the “white people, the Christians” made them starve. He returned to his plantation and led a quiet and uneventful life until duty called in 1775. His community elected him to serve in the South Carolina Provincial Congress, and Marion sat through the debates over the call for independence. After the battles of Lexington and Concord, the Congress reassembled and decided on a course of action. Marion did not participate in the debates, but he voted for war and readily accepted the will of his state in the crisis.

Even before the Congress adjourned, Marion was actively recruiting men for the cause of independence. He was elected a captain in the Second Regiment of the South Carolina militia and quickly found his quota of fifty volunteers, many of whom were Scots-Irish Protestants. Marion participated in the capture of Fort Johnson and then distinguished himself during the battle of Sullivan’s Island on 28 June 1776. The British navy began a bombardment of the little American fort—Fort Sullivan, later called Fort Moultrie—in Charleston Harbor in the morning, and after an eleven-hour battle, two fifty-gun men-of-war were destroyed while the fort, made from soft palmetto logs, escaped substantial damage. Marion reportedly ordered the last shot of the engagement, a blast that killed two British officers and three seamen. In total, two hundred British sailors were killed or wounded while the South Carolina militia suffered only thirty-eight casualties. This victory kept the British out of the South for three years. For his service and leadership, Marion was rewarded with a promotion to Lieutenant-Colonel and was given command of Fort Sullivan, a prestigious honor, because the fort was the presumed focal point of any future British attack.

When the British returned to the South in 1778, however, they first attacked Savannah, Georgia. American forces attempted to retake the city in 1779. Marion moved south with the South Carolina militia but was exasperated by the French contingent who arrived first and imprudently allowed the British to fortify their positions. He reportedly flew into a fit of rage after learning of the French incompetence. “My God! Who ever heard of anything like this before? First, allow an enemy to entrench, and then fight him? See the destruction brought upon the British at Bunker’s Hill—yet, our troops there were only militia raw, half-armed clodhoppers, and not a mortar, or carronade, not even a swivel—only their ducking- guns! What, then, are we to expect from regulars, completely armed, with a choice train of artillery, and covered by a breastwork?” Marion participated in the frontal assault on the British position at Savannah. His Second Regiment suffered heavy casualties, and in little time the British reduced the combined Franco-American forces by 1,100 men. Marion escaped, but some of the best men in his regiment did not.

The British lost few men and held the city. The American forces retreated, and Marion was given the task of drilling and organizing the South Carolina militia. Everyone presumed the British would next attempt to take Charleston, and in 1780 Marion marched into the city with his men to prepare for its defense. Fate intervened. Marion was invited to a dinner party with friends, and when the host locked them in until all the wine was finished, the temperate and sober Marion decided to leave by jumping from a second-story window. The fall broke his ankle, and Marion was forced to retire to his home in St. John’s Parish.

This proved to be a stroke of luck for the American cause. Due to the incompetence of Benjamin Lincoln, the Northern general sent to defend the city, the entire American army was captured at Charleston in the ensuing assault, but Marion, home healing, escaped and ultimately became the most conspicuous officer in the Southern theater fighting for American independence.

The Swamp Fox

While still suffering from his ankle injury, Marion organized a small group of men and moved north to meet with the Continental Army under the command of Horatio Gates. When he arrived, Gates could scarcely refrain from laughing at the disheveled band of South Carolinians. Marion hobbled on his broken ankle, and his men—both white and black— were poorly equipped and ragged. Gates ordered them to the interior of South Carolina. Officially, they were sent to scout enemy movements, but really Gates was just trying to get rid of Marion and his band. This decision proved to be vital to the American cause. Gates was routed at the Battle of Camden, leaving Marion’s men to be a major obstacle against British occupation of South Carolina. Marion’s base of operations, Williamsburg, South Carolina, had a strong patriot population, and he recruited troops there. His men served without pay, and provided their own supplies and horses. They were an efficient, hard-hitting, guerilla group that could evaporate into the swamps when threatened.

Before the Battle of Camden, Marion and other South Carolinians had encouraged a “Fabian strategy” in the South, a line of attack named after the Roman General Quintus Fabius Maximus who used a war of attrition to wear down superior Carthaginian forces under Hannibal in the Punic Wars. Now that the regular American Southern army was all but destroyed, Marion, along with Generals Thomas Sumter and Andrew Pickens, adopted this approach in an effort to erode British resolve and keep them from moving north.

He would attack when the numbers favored him, and when they didn’t he led the British into the swamps where he was uncatchable. He was called the “old fox” or the “swamp fox” by the British. Marion disrupted supply and communications, and acted as a nuisance to British commanders in the region. The British sent Colonel Banastre Tarleton after him in 1780, but without success. “Bloody Ban” had reportedly slaughtered Americans who had surrendered at the Battle of Waxhaws. He resorted to similar pitiless tactics in an attempt to capture Marion. Like General William Tecumseh Sherman in the War Between the States, “Bloody Ban” burned homes and other property, stole food and supplies, and left a swath of destruction in his path.

Of British officers Tarleton was possibly the most despised man by the patriots. Marion sometimes resorted to similar methods—he commandeered food and supplies he never burned homes—but whereas Tarleton left only blood and tears behind, Marion and his men left receipts, most of which were honored by the South Carolina government after the war. Guerilla warfare took its toll on the British. Instead of methodically moving north and sacking North Carolina, they were bottled up in South Carolina chasing a “swamp fox” that often disappeared rather than fight.

Marion’s fame grew. South Carolina Governor John Rutledge, leading the state “from the saddle” in exile, heard of his exploits and commissioned him a brigadier-general. Marion was ordered to take Georgetown, South Carolina, in January 1781, but failed. In the same month, however, American forces in the region won a stunning victory over the British at the Battle of Cowpens.

Newly appointed commander Nathanael Greene recognized Marion’s success and adopted a Fabian strategy during 1781 to keep the British out of North Carolina. He summarized it this way, “We fight, get beat, rise, and fight again.” Marion’s motto would have been, “We fight only the battles we should win, and we win if not, we disappear, and fight again.”

Marion was able to secure Fort Watson and Fort Motte, and he rescued a small American contingent in August 1781, a deed that resulted in an official letter of appreciation from the Continental Congress. He also stopped American General Charles Lee, the man who would have lost Fort Moultrie in 1776 if not for the genius of the South Carolinians, from slaughtering Loyalist captives at the conclusion of the battle of Fort Motte.

Marion despised cruelty in all its forms. British General Lord Charles Cornwallis determined that the American army in the South was being supplied through Virginia. In the spring of 1781, he left South Carolina for Virginia and, in the process, let Nathanael Greene slip back into the state. Marion helped Greene push the British back to the coast through a series of bloody engagements. He commanded the militia during the final battle in the Southern theater, the Battle of Eutaw Springs in September 1781, a battle immortalized in the South Carolina state song.

Marion had no more battles to fight. His heroic efforts had not only made him a household name in South Carolina, but might have provided the turning point of the war, tying up British troops that would otherwise have advanced North and possibly captured George Washington in a vise.

Marion retired to a plantation destroyed by war. The life-long bachelor, who one subordinate officer described as an “ugly, cross, knock kneed, hook-nosed son of a bitch,” took his cousin, Mary Esther Videau, as his wife in 1786. She was a wealthy widow, and Marion needed the money, if nothing else. He served in the South Carolina Senate in 1781, 1782, and 1784, and as the honorary commander of Fort Johnson from 1784 to 1790. He was elected as a delegate to the state constitutional convention in 1790 and served again in the state senate the following year.

Marion died at his home in St. John’s in 1795 at the age of 63. His tombstone read: “HISTORY will record his worth, and rising generations embalm his memory, as one of the most distinguished Patriots and Heroes of the American Revolution: which elevated his native Country TO HONOUR AND INDEPENDENCE, AND Secured to her the blessings of LIBERTY AND PEACE. . . . ”

The politically incorrect soldier

Marion was a dedicated servant to South Carolina throughout his life. That is his allure. He never served in the Continental Army and considered South Carolina to be his native “country.” When duty called, he served with honor, and like Washington, the more famous “citizen-soldier,” returned to his plantation when the fighting was over. He owned slaves, but fought alongside blacks for much of the war. John Blake White, in an 1830s painting, portrayed Marion as a gentleman offering an “enemy” officer supper, a depiction that also included Marion’s body servant, Oscar, the man who fought side-by-side with him during the darkest days of the Revolution. Washington is often chastised for his refusal to allow black soldiers to fight in the Revolution—he later changed course—but they did fight in the Southern theater. Marion proved that.

Historians have also been critical of Marion for the role he played on the frontier, fighting Indians, in 1761. Wars against the Indian tribes were typically brutal, often inhumane affairs, with barbarism exhibited on both sides. Marion showed remorse for his deeds, even during the conflict, and never appeared to be an “Indian hater.” Marion is one of the true heroes of the Founding generation, a man who played no political role, but who personified the spirit and determination of South Carolina’s patriots.

American Heroes: Francis Marion, South Carolina’s “Swamp Fox”

MOST AMERICANS ENVISION Colonel Francis Marion, the “Swamp Fox,” as a tall, strong, handsome, and swashbuckling cavalryman, fearlessly leading South Carolinians to victory in the American Revolution. Certainly after the film, “The Patriot,” many Americans will associate the Swamp Fox with Mel Gibson’s brave and tragic character. Actually Marion did not look or act like a hero at all. He was short (although Mel Gibson isn’t that tall, either!), frail, and walked with a limp (he broke his ankle jumping out the window of a party he left early). Colonel Marion was an uneducated bachelor who was described as eccentric and unable to get along with his fellow military officers. He was not bold in his military tactics, but rather very cautious and prudent. Yet Marion was undoubtedly a courageous and deadly soldier, whose guerilla warfare techniques severely crippled British campaigns in the South, and helped to ensure American victory in the War for Independence.

Marion first learned his “Indian style” of warfare while fighting the Cherokees in the Southern theater of the French and Indian War (1756-1763). With American Independence in 1776, Marion was commissioned a major in the South Carolina militia. He helped to repulse the British bombardment of Charleston in 1776, commanding a battery of cannon that crippled the British fleet and sent it running off the next morning “like earless dogs.” But the American triumph was short-lived. The Redcoats returned under Lord Cornwallis and captured Charleston and 5,000 Americans (under Benjamin Lincoln) in 1780. A short time later, another American army under General Gates was shattered at Camden. Without an army or a base of operations, Colonel Marion collected a ragged band of followers and slipped into hiding in the swampy lowlands of British-occupied South Carolina.

During the next 2 ½ years Marion engaged in the devastating guerilla warfare that earned him the title of “Swamp Fox.” Although virtually in a sea of enemies, Marion and militia leaders Thomas Sumter and Andrew Pickens kept resistance alive in South Carolina until the Continental Army could recapture the region. Since over half of the South Carolina backcountry was Loyalist, or Tory, Marion engaged as much in civil war he did war against the British. The Swamp Fox and his mounted raiders hid and camped in the woods and swamps of the backcountry, foraging for food and supplies, and when the opportunity arose, striking at the British and Tory forces with ferocity.
Their chief weapon was surprise, and the ambush was their specialty. They attacked swiftly, and then vanished into the swamps before reinforcements could arrive. British officers soon became obsessed with capturing the Swamp Fox and his men. “Our army will be destroyed by these damned driblets,” one British general raged. Marion actively gathered intelligence and disrupted the redcoats’ supply and communication lines. Yet the British seemed powerless to stop him. As his name and reputation spread, scores of volunteers rode into the lowlands to join his band. The once-strong Loyalist militia refused to fight him and, as Colonel Marion observed, “the Torreys are so affrighted with my little Excursions that many is moving off to Georgia with their Effects other are rund into Swamps.”

Ironically, the Swamp Fox and the other South Carolina guerillas eventually worked themselves out of a job. The Continental Army returned and Colonel Francis Marion, much to his dismay, found himself back in the regular army. Marion despised the rules and politics of professional soldiering and found himself constantly at odds with his commanding officers. When the British surrendered in Charleston (1783), he returned to civilian life, though retaining the commission of Brigadier General in the South Carolina militia.
Nevertheless, Francis Marion can share some of the credit for American independence. Due to Marion’s and others’ guerilla bands, the British could never secure South Carolina permanently their entire Southern offensive was stymied. Indeed, factoring in the North Carolina militia’s subsequent victory at King’s Mountain (1780), historians have rightly credited the Southern militia with expediting the American victory in the Revolutionary War. It was setbacks in Carolina, after all, that propelled Lord Cornwallis to his rash decision to leave the Carolinas and attack Virginia instead—a decision that landed him and 8000 troops on the Yorktown Peninsula in 1781.

The “Swamp Fox’s” last years were spent rebuilding his war-torn plantation and serving in the South Carolina state senate. Marion finally married at age 56, and led the life of a country gentleman. When Francis Marion died in 1795, the “little Colonel with a limp” had the respect and admiration of the nation whose independence he had fought to secure.

Source: Marion Marsh Brown, The Swamp Fox (Philadelphia: Westminster, 1950) Robert D. Bass, Swamp Fox: The Life and Campaigns of General Francis Marion (New York: Holt, 1959).

Later Life

Marion was re-elected to the state senate in 1782 and 1784. In the years after the war, he generally supported a lenient policy toward the remaining Loyalists and opposed laws intended to strip them of their property. As a gesture of recognition for his services during the conflict, the state of South Carolina appointed him to command Fort Johnson. Largely a ceremonial post, it brought with it an annual stipend of $500 which aided Marion in rebuilding his plantation. Retiring to Pond Bluff, Marion married his cousin, Mary Esther Videau, and later served at the 1790 South Carolina constitutional convention. A supporter of the federal union, he died at Pond Bluff on February 27, 1795.

Francis Marion National Forest

The Francis Marion National Forest is located north of Charleston, South Carolina. It is named for revolutionary war hero Francis Marion, who was known to the British as the Swamp Fox. It lies entirely within the Middle Atlantic coastal forests ecoregion. [3] The park is also entirely in the Subtropical coniferous forest.

This National Forest is contained entirely in the counties of Charleston and Berkeley and is 258,864 acres (1,050 km 2 ) in size. The forest contains the towns of Awendaw, Huger, Jamestown, and McClellanville. Charleston provides emergency services to the southeastern portions of the forest. Forest headquarters are located in Columbia, together with those of Sumter National Forest. There are local ranger district offices located in Cordesville.

In 1989, the forest was nearly destroyed by Hurricane Hugo only the young growth survived the storm and its aftermath. Today, most trees in the forest do not predate this hurricane.

The forest is a multiple use area. Recreation opportunities include campsites, rifle ranges, boat ramps, and several trails for hiking, horseback riding, mountain biking, including the Palmetto Trail, as well as off-road motorcycling and atv riding specifically at the Wambaw Cycle Trailhead. (OHV) The Forest Service also administers wilderness areas, experimental forests, timber production, and protection and management of wildlife and the watershed.

There are four officially designated wilderness areas lying within Francis Marion National Forest that are part of the National Wilderness Preservation System.

Watch the video: Francis Marion (August 2022).

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