Francis Marion: The Swamp Fox

“Never to be caught, never to be followed”

The British soldier trembles when Marion’s name was told.
Marion’s Brigade ( Troop of 150 men)

  • Survived in swamps, waterways and marshes of South Carolina
  • Employed guerilla tactics to harass the enemy
  • Cut off British supply lines
  • Fearless, strong and active, always ready for the enemy
  • Clever and fearless
  • Taught to hit and run
  • Tattered penniless patriots
  • Led American troops to victory in Cowpens

     Considered the greatest guerrilla fighter in the American Revolution Marion, terrorized the entire British Army in South Carolina, striking with fantastic swiftness, then vanishing ghost-like into the swamps.
     Francis Marion was born in 1732 near Georgetown, South Carolina and was the youngest of six children. His parents were French Huguenots (Protestants) who lived and farmed along the Santee River. At 15, Francis set sail on a ship bound for the West Indies, but the ship sank. In 1753, when the French and Indian War begun, Marion joined a militia company led by his older brother Gabriel. In the Cherokee War of 1760-61, Marion served in Captain William Moultrie's company where he proved to be an excellent horseman and marksman. After the French and Indian War, Marion established himself as a planter in St. John's Parish and in 1773, bought a plantation on the Santee River. In 1775, he was elected to the South Carolina Provincial Congress.
     In 1775, Marion was named Captain of the Second State Regiment under Colonel Moultrie and he also served in Snow's Campaign against Tories (colonists who were loyal to King George III). Marion again served under Colonel Moultrie at the Battle of Fort Sullivan in February 1776. In November 1776, he was promoted to Lt. Colonel and in September 1778, he assumed command of the Second State Regiment. In October 1779, he participated in the Second Battle of Savannah, Georgia.
     In 1780, he escaped capture at the surrender of Charleston because he had broken his ankle jumping from a second floor window the month before and formed Marion's Brigade, one hundred fifty tattered, penniless patriots. None received pay, food or even ammunition from the Continental Army. The only reward they sought was freedom from tyranny, which meant freedom for America. Marion received a Congressional citation for wisdom and bravery, he was never accorded the honor his country owed him, and when the British evacuated Charleston he was not asked to participate in the celebration because he and his men were too ragged. But that ragged brigade who followed Francis Marion on the long, hard road to American independence earned its rightful plate in history.

According to one account, a British officer ventured from Georgetown under a flag of truce to talk with General Marion concerning an exchange of prisoners. Following the negotiations, the Swamp Fox invited his guest for dinner. The British officer was both appalled and mightily impressed by the menu- mere sweet potatoes! After returning to his own lines, the Briton reported in amazement that "I have seen an American general and his officers, without pay, and almost without clothes, living on roots and drinking water; and all for LIBERTY! What chance have we against such men!" It was later reported that the officer resigned his commission and returned to England.


General Marion inviting the British officer
for dinner which consisted of sweet potatoes

     Following Maj. General Horatio Gates' defeat at the Battle of Camden in August 1780, Marion successfully led a series of raids and skirmishes including Great Savannah in August, Blue Savannah and Black Mingo Creek in September and Tearcoat Swamp in October, although he was turned back at Georgetown in November. He eluded Major James Wemyss in September and Lt. Colonel Banastre Tarleton in November 1780. Tarleton, previously feared by southerners for his brutal and bloody attacks, was exasperated when his communications were interrupted, his supply lines were cut off, and his hold on the south slipped away powerless to stop the constant unconventional attacks.
     Not bothered by his lack of men and supplies, Marion brilliantly used a weapon unknown to the British: the swamps, waterways and marshes of the South Carolina low country. Employing guerilla tactics to harass the enemy, Marion and his men would strike without warning and then disappear into the swamps.
     In December 1780, he was promoted to brigadier general and put together what would be known as Marion's Brigade, as well as making Snow's Island his base of operations.
     Following the arrival of new Southern Department Commander Maj. General Nathanael Greene, Marion conducted some joint operations with Lt. Colonel Henry Lee including another unsuccessful attack on Georgetown in January 1781, as well as successful operations at Fort Watson in April and Fort Motte in May. In March, he got the best of his latest pursuer Lt. Colonel John Watson in several skirmishes. He also participated in Thomas Sumter's failed operation at Quinby Bridge in July 1781, which he followed up with a successful attack at Parker's Ferry in August. He also commanded all the militia at the Battle of Eutaw Springs in September 1781.
     Marion became active in politics even before the war ended. His brigade continued to be active throughout 1782 and Marion himself saw his last action in August 1782 at Fair Lawn. Following the war, he was given command of Fort Johnson. He married his cousin in 1786 and attended the Constitutional Convention in 1790. After South Carolina officially joined the Union, Marion retired to his home, Pond's Bluff, where he died on February 27, 1795.

     Francis Marion, who was one of many great American patriots, has more places named after him than any other Revolutionary War soldier, with the exception of George Washington.
His life was demonstrated in many ways because of the Biblical principles that influenced his life that made him respected even by his enemies.
     Marion was the lead character in early drafts of the movie The Patriot (2000), but because to avoid some controversy and to allow for more dramatic storytelling, the fictional character of Benjamin Martin was introduced.

You may be reading this and you have never answered the most important question in your life and that is …

How does anyone get to heaven?

First realize that they cannot get to heaven on their own merits. The Bible says that “For all have sinned and come short (that means everybody can’t get to Heaven on their own) of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23)

Jesus Christ (who is the Son of the living God) came to earth and was born of a virgin woman (therefore he was not born of the curse of mankind) he lived a sinless life and died on a cross for all the sins in the world. Three days later, God the Father raised Him from the dead. He was seen of 500 witnesses and returned to heaven. God’s word says that if we believe these things and call upon the Lord, we will be saved. Romans 10:9 - 13