Sunday, January 01, 2006

Francis Marion: A Patriot's Patriot

This web site is called Swamp Fox, because Francis Marion's career is an outstanding illustration of South Carolina innovation.

Francis Marion was a South Carolina military commander in the American Revolution. Arriving at the American camp in Camden, Colonel Otho Williams observed that Marion was "attended by very few followers distinguished by small leather caps and the wretchedness of their attire. Their number did not exceed 20 men and boys, some white, some black, all mounted, but most miserably equipped."

After American General Horatio Gates' defeat at Camden, Marion was the only American commander standing between the British and victory in the south, which would have cleaved the colonies. In spite of facing one of the best trained and equipped opponents on the planet, the forces of Lord Cornwallis, Marion never suffered a defeat. (He was not at the Battle of Camden.)

Marion had two advantages he skillfully leveraged. He had an innovative technology, rifles, around which he developed novel tactics to frustrate and confuse the enemy. He also knew the terrain intimately well and always chose the battlefield on which to engage his foe. If he had ever fought in the open field where the British were trained and equipped the fight, he would have been annihilated. After unsuccessfully chasing him for days, the British Dragoon commander Banastre Tarleton unwittingly made Marion a legend by nicknaming him the Swamp Fox.

The first American civil war was the American Revolution in the South. A third of all revolutionary war battles were fought in South Carolina, and Marion fought in a third of them. That means, incredibly, that our intrepid Swamp Fox was involved in one of every six battles of the America Revolution.

This came to mind this week because there was a news story about recognizing Francis Marion with a statue in Washington, SC. Now you understand why this would be a just tribute to a patriot's patriot.

1 comment:

John F. McCabe said...

Thank you for your support!

Now is the time for the most powerful city in the world to have a proper memorial for the man to whom it owes its very existence!

John F. McCabe
Columbia