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The subject of this sketch is General Francis Marion and a pleasant duty it is to revive the memory of this almost forgotten hero who was one of the most famous warriors of the American Revolution. General Nathaniel Greene had often been heard to say that the page of history had never furnished his equal.

He was born near Georgetown, South Carolina, of French parents, who were refugees to this country after the Revocation of the Edict of Nantes. From them he inherited that love of liberty which had caused them to forsake home and friends and commence a new life among strangers that they might enjoy freedom of thought and action at King's Mountain.

He manifested early in life a love of adventure. His first warlike experience was against the Indians. He served as a Lieutenant of volunteers. In his encounters with the savages he showed such courage and skill that he soon became famous, and to his credit, it must be said, he was always humane and just.

When war was declared against England and troops had to be raised, Marion received a Captain's commission. He went forth to raise a company. Money was lacking and he had to depend entirely on volunteers. He very soon, however, succeeded in getting his complement of men and was unexcelled in his dealings with these raw recruits. He could enter into their feelings and appreciate their conduct. He did not exact impossibilities of them and he was celebrated for what was called his patience with the militia.


No service was ever more strictly voluntary than that of those who constituted the company known as "Marion's Men" and he led them to perform deeds of valor which seem almost incredible. There was an air of mysterious daring in what he undertook, which gave a charm to the life his followers led, while they had the most perfect confidence in their leader. Insubordination was rare among his men on account of their devotion to him. If it did occur he usually visited it by dismissal from his band. This ignominy was dreaded more than any other mode of punishment. He seldom resorted to the military methods of severe discipline. His band was composed largely of the planters, and some of them were boys who lived in the section of the country where his daring exploits harassed so severely the British. These men were devoted to field sports and were consequently fine riders and marksmen.

Marion and his men are connected with the most romantic adventures of the Revolution, equal to any we have read of in song or story. The writer has often listened with intense interest to the accounts given by her grandfather of the recitals of his party. William Pope, who was one of "Marion's Men," tells of the many hazardous undertakings against the British and Tories. The famous rides at night when they would leave their hidden places in the swamps, or some forest so densely wooded that they alone knew the trails by which they found their way in and out; how they would start on one of their swift rides to intercept the passing of British troops from one post to another or attack an army wagon train with provisions and ammunition, etc. The descent of Marion and his men would be so sudden that the enemy would be completely demoralized.

Marion kept bands of scouts constantly watching the enemy and by this means he was enabled to give our army most valuable information.

At one time our hero and his men learning of the encampment of some British troops near a river, started out to attack them at midnight. They had to ride many miles to reach the river and in crossing the bridge the noise of the horses aroused the sentinels of the enemy and they were prepared for resistance. The fight which ensued was a fierce one, but ever after that experience, when Marion found it necessary to cross a bridge, he made the men dismount and spread their blankets over the bridge to muffle the sound of the horses feet. It was a rule with him never to use a bridge when he could ford a river, and he burned all bridges for which he had no use. These long rapid rides were exhausting to man and beasts. They returned as rapidly as they went forth and when they reached their place of safety, they would secure their horses, throw themselves on the ground with only a blanket and a saddle for a pillow and sleep so soundly they would be unconscious of the falling rain and often awaken in the morning to find themselves surrounded by water. Amid all these scenes of hardship there were times when this band of devoted patriots indulged in revelry, as they were safely gathered around the camp fires among the lofty moss-draped cypress trees and gum trees of the swamps to enjoy the captured supplies from the enemy's commissary stores, which enabled them to supply themselves with clothing, arms and ammunition. Thus they largely provided for their own subsistence by their daring prowess.

The British established a line of military posts in South Carolina extending from Georgetown to Charleston. They found it exceedingly difficult to hold any communication, for Marion's scouts were always on the lookout to report their movements. Colonel Watson, of the enemy, attempted to take a regiment from one post to another. He was so harrassed by the sharpshooting of "Marion's Men" who lay in ambush along his route, that he sent a letter by flag of truce to Marion reproaching him for fighting like a savage and invited him to come out in open field and fight like a gentleman. But Marion was too shrewd to put in open field his comparatively small band, with their peculiar mode of warfare, against a far greater number of finely drilled regulars of the enemy and Colonel Watson had to retreat and encamp his men in the first open field he could find.

Marion had a number of interviews by flag of truce with British officers. One of the most noted is the one in which he entertained the officer at dinner. After business affairs had been settled General Marion invited the officer to dine with him and he accepted. Marion ordered dinner. The officer looked around with curiosity as he saw no preparations for dinner and his surprise was great when the cook placed before him on a piece of bark a few sweet potatoes which had been roasted in the fire near by. The officer remarked to Marion that he supposed his supplies had fallen short, endeavoring to relieve Marion of any embarrassment he thought he might feel in offering him such meager fare, but Marion replied that he considered himself fortunate, as he had a guest that day, he had that much to offer him. The officer was amazed and profoundly impressed with what he had seen. He returned to his command with such feelings of admiration and respect for men who endured so cheerfully such privations and so many hardships for the sake of liberty, that he said it was useless to fight such men, that they were entitled to liberty and he would not continue to fight against them. He resigned his commission in the army.

The enemy at this time had absolute command of this portion of South Carolina excepting as they were disturbed by Marion. He shifted from swamp to swamp and thicket to thicket and never relaxed his struggle for liberty. So harrassed were the enemy by him, they determined a number of times to make a special effort to capture him or drive him out of the state. All in vain. Marion was too alert and often met them with more promptness than they desired.

Colonel Tarleton, a British officer, with a reputation for great activity undertook one of these expeditions against Marion and narrowly escaped being captured himself. He retreated from his attack exclaiming to his men "Come on boys, we will go back, there is no catching this 'Swamp Fox'." By this same name he was ever afterward called by his followers.

When Gen. Nathaniel Greene took command of the Southern Army, he wrote to General Marion and begged him to remain in his independent position and keep the army supplied with intelligence, in which important part he rendered most active service, also in the battles of Georgetown, Ninety Six, Charleston, Savannah and others. So highly appreciated by the Government was the brave and valuable part performed by Marion and his men, that Congress passed a series of resolutions expressing the gratitude of the country to them.

Governor Rutledge appointed him Brigadier-General. In addition to the usual military rank, extraordinary powers were conferred upon him, such as were only granted to extraordinary men.

In the circumstances of life, there was a remarkable resemblance between him and the great Washington. They were both volunteers in the service of their country. They learned the military art in Indian warfare. They were both soldiers so vigilant that no enemy could ever surprise them and so equal in undaunted valor that nothing could disturb them, and even in the private incidents of their lives, the resemblance between these two great men was closer than common. They were both born in the same year, both lost fathers early in life, both married excellent, wealthy wives, both left widows and both died childless.

In reviewing the life of Gen. Marion, we find patient courage, firmness in danger, resolution in adversity, hardy endurance amid suffering and want. He lived that liberty might not die and never relinquished his sword until the close of the war. He then retired to his plantation near Eutaw, where he died. His last words were: "Thank God, since I have come to man's estate, I have never intentionally done wrong to any man."

Marion's remains are in the church yard at Belle Isle in the parish of St. John's Berkely. Over them is a marble slab upon which is the following inscription:

"Sacred to the memory of Brigadier-General Francis Marion, who departed this life on the twenty-ninth of February, 1795, in the sixty-third year of his age, deeply regretted by all of his fellow citizens. History will recall his worth and rising generations will embalm his memory as one of the most distinguished patriots and heroes of the American Revolution; who elevated his native country to honor and independence and accrued to her the blessings and liberty of peace." This tribute of veneration and gratitude is erected in commemoration of the noble and distinguished virtues of the citizen and of the gallant exploits of the soldier who lived without fear and died without reproach.

This brief and imperfect sketch of one of the most noted military men of his day has led to the reflection that many of the most valiant leaders of the Revolution are comparatively little known among the rising generation. The old histories written in the early part of this century which recorded their brilliant deeds and virtues, are out of print, a few to be found in old libraries, and the old readers which were used in the schools forty and fifty years ago were full of the accounts of their achievements, which thrilled the hearts of the students and stimulated in them a love of country, as only such deeds of valor could inspire. But today these heroes who taught us such lessons of patriotism have passed away forgotten, others scarcely a memory. Ought it to be so?

As our society is for the purpose of advancing the cause of patriotism, no effort on the part of its members would do more to bring this about than for some of them situated in different parts of our country to unite in collecting material for a new reader for the use of schools in which the deeds of these revolutionary patriots would be once more revived and made conspicuous to those who should ever hold them in grateful veneration.

This thought is one that might advantageously engage the attention of some national publisher who might employ compilers from different localities of our country for this purpose.

Among the "Readers" alluded to, was a tribute to Gen. Marion and his men, which was at the same time a graphic account of their lives and services. It was written by one of our favorable national poets, William Cullen Bryant, and was a favorite selection for declamation among American juvenile orators many years ago. It has disappeared from the modern editions of "Readers," but would fitly embellish a new "American Speaker," a book which would be popular throughout our land in these days of Sons and Daughters of the Revolution.

This suggestion will be enhanced by the reproduction of the ringing lines with which this article will close:


    Our band is few, but true and tried, Our leader frank and bold; The British soldier trembles When Marion's name is told. Our fortress is the good green wood, Our tent the cypress tree; We know the forest 'round us, As Seamen know the sea; We know its wall of thorny vines, Its glades of reedy grass; Its safe and silent islands Within the dark morass.

    Woe to the British soldiery, That little dread us near; On them shall light at midnight A strange and sudden fear; When waking to their tents on fire, They grasp their arms in vain, And they who stand to face us Are beat to earth again, And they who fly in terror deem A mighty host behind And hear the tramp of thousands Upon the hollow wind.

    Then sweet the hour that brings release From dangers and from toil; We talk the battle over And share the battle spoil. The woodland rings with laugh and shout As if a hunt were up, And woodland flowers are gathered To crown the soldiers' cup. With merry sounds we mock the wind That in the pine top grieves, And slumber long and sweetly On beds of oaken leaves.

    Well knows the fair and friendly moon, The band that Marion leads; The glitter of their rifles, The scampering of their steeds. 'Tis life to guide the fiery barb, Across the moonlit plain; 'Tis life to feel the night wind That lifts his tossing mane. A moment in the British camp, A moment and away; Back to the pathless forest, Before the peep of day.

    Grave men there are by broad Santee, Grave men with hoary hairs. Their hearts are all with Marion, For Marion are their prayers; And lovely ladies greet our band With kindliest welcoming, With smiles like those of summer, And with tears like those of spring. For them we wear these trusty arms And lay them down no more, Till we have driven the Briton Forever from our shore.