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ENGL 1302


Francis (Swamp Fox) Marion

In Marion, South Carolina, where I was born, there was a
festival that came around during the month of May that would practically shut
down the town for an entire weekend.  The
Foxtrot Festival brings back fond memories for me to this day.  Growing up, I  was curious about the origins of the Foxtrot
Festival.  Where did this celebration
come from? I would also ask how did Marion High School get a Swamp Fox as their
mascot? Having a vested interest in the history of the town I called home, I
wanted to know why Marion was so popular. Why was there a Francis Marion
University, Francis Marion Restaurant and Marion SC.? In my search for answers,
I learned that Francis Marion was an important leader to folks in the town that
bore his name after the Revolutionary War, He was born in 1732 and died at the
ripe old age of 43 in 1795.  In this
town, it is often difficult to separate fact from legend, but by any measure, Francis
(Swamp Fox) Marion was a legendary soldier and military genius far ahead of his
time.  According to YourDictionary, “at
the age of 29, Marion took part in the war against the Cherokee Indians. At the
time, Marion was just a lieutenant in the militia. He took pages from the
Cherokee playbook, using small forces, hitting and running, dispersing troops
in one place and reforming them in another, and employing the element of
surprise. In 1773, Marion returned to farming on his own plantation called
Pond Bluff SC. A few years later he would see fighting against the British in
the Revolutionary War. Marion was promoted to Lieutenant. Colonel in November,
1778, when he took charge of the Second South Carolina Regiment; in November
1779,  preceding the failed assault on
Savannah in an effort to take back Georgia.. In May, 1780, the British retook
Charleston and defeated the American Army under Major General Horatio Gates at
the clash of Camden. (



Figure 1 is the front inscription of Francis Marion Grave

 As the picture (Figure
1) states, Marion was one of the devoted leaders that kept the fighting spirit alive
during the British occupation.  In 1780
he took a platoon of men to rescue 150 American prisoners from the British. He
did this by taking to the swamps and using guerrilla warfare. His tricky
vanishings after amazement assaults against unrivaled powers badgering and
discouraged the adversary, procuring for him the name, “Swamp Fox.” British
Lieutenant Colonel Banastre Tarleton, told of Marion’s whereabouts by an
escaped detainee, pursued the American civilian army for seven hours, covering
exactly 26 miles. Marion got away into a marsh, and Tarleton surrendered,
reviling, “Concerning this accursed old fox, the Devil himself couldn’t
get him.” Word of Marions’s exploits got out, and it was not long before
the local town’s people were cheering “The Swamp Fox”.  (HISTORYNET).


Figure 2 General Marion Inviting a British Officer to Share
His Meal (John
Blake White)

Francis Marion and his men were enjoying the great outdoors
on Snow’s Island, South Carolina, when a British officer touched base to talk
about a detainee trade. As one soldier reviewed years after the fact, a
breakfast of sweet potatoes was broiling in the fire, and after the
arrangements, Marion, welcomed the British fighter to share breakfast. As
indicated by a legend that became out of the much-rehashed account, the British
officer was so roused by the Americans’ cleverness and devotion to the
reason—despite their absence of satisfactory arrangements, supplies or
legitimate garbs—that he quickly exchanged sides and bolstered American
independence (

Francis Marion never lead a huge armed force or commanded a
noteworthy fight. The history of the Revolutionary War tends to focus on George
Washington and his direct crusades in the North, as opposed to smaller conflicts
in the South. Eventually, the Swamp Fox became one of the war’s most continuing
characters. “His notoriety is absolutely merited,” says Busick. Even
though things seemed terrible for the Americans after Charleston fell, Marion’s
finesse, genius and assurance helped keep the reason for American autonomy
alive in the South.

In 1790, Marion helped write the South Carolina State
Constitution, and later resigned himself to private life,After years of
declining health, Marion passed away on at his manor, Pond Bluff, on February
27, 1795. In December 2006, two centuries later, Marion made news again when
President George W. Bush marked a declaration regarding the man portrayed in
many memoirs as the “devoted worker, Oscar,” Marion’s own slave.
Oscar Marion was the individual slave of Gen. Francis Marion (1732-1795). Like
different slaves of the time, he was given his lord’s surname. The two were one
next to the other amid the seven years of the Revolutionary War, far longer
than most men of the time served. Notwithstanding his obligations for the
general, Oscar Marion likewise battled in the state army. Bush communicated the
thanks of an “appreciative country” for Oscar Marion’s
“administration… in the Armed Forces of the United States.”
Identified by genealogist Tina Jones, his far off relative, Oscar is the
African-American cooking sweet potatoes in John Blake White’s sketch at the
Capitol. I believe we should have given more recognition to Francis Marion
instead of his servant. After all, he was the one that was the leader in the war”

Although one may not feel it is right, there are reasons why
cities and colleges are linked to Francis Marion. Marion SC was named after
Francis Marion. This city also has a statue in the town square of Francis
Marion. If you ever go to one of the Marion High School sport events, then you
will hear the chant Marion Swamp Foxes. If you are not from this area, then you
probably never heard of this man let alone the city of Marion SC. The picture
below is the statue that’s located in the town square of Marion SC. (HERE

The Marion courthouse, library and
museum are all on the historic register and holds memories of Francis Marion.

Further down the road you have
Francis Marion University in Florence SC. This college is on the site that held
one of the few battles that Francis Marion fought in. According to the New
World Encyclopedia, The Francis Marion National Forest, near Charleston,
South Carolina, is named after Marion, like the noteworthy Francis Marion Hotel
in downtown Charleston. Various areas the nation over are named after Marion.
The city of Marion, Iowa, is named after Francis, and the city holds a yearly
Swamp Fox Festival and parade each late spring. More than 20 states have urban
areas or regions named after Francis Marion. 
This just goes to show that Francis Marion deserves a day called Francis
Marion Day.

One would argue that Francis
Marion did not fight by himself. One might also question Marion’s guerilla
tactics as acts of terrorism. Francis Marion was the figure leader of this sort
of fighting (SMITHSONIAN.COM)  . In
the motion picture, The Patriot, Marion was the real life patriot depicted by  Mel Gibson. As stated by Amy Crawford of the
Smithsonian Magazine, “However frequently dwarfed, Marion’s volunteer army
would keep on using guerilla strategies to astonish adversary regiments, with
incredible achievement… Marion and his adherents assumed the part of David to
the British Goliath.” Line arrangements were yet the typical method for
battle until WWI (MILITARY OFFICER, 1998), so it is sheltered to state that
Francis Marion was considering unheard of options. The guerrilla war fighting tactic
was named by the British as unusual and they made a decent attempt to catch
Marion. This is like the war in Iraq where American warriors are assaulted by
Iraqi state armies with unusual means and are named as psychological oppressors
(MILITARY OFFICER, 1998). This is true, but Francis Marion was the leader. He
more than once crushed bigger and better-furnished powers with couple of
misfortunes, checking him as one of history’s extraordinary guerrilla pioneers.
He used tactics from the battle with the Cherokee Indians on the British. Marion
showed himself to be a uniquely capable pioneer of sporadic minute men and
savage in his threatening of Loyalists. Not at all like the Continental troops,
Marion’s Men, as they were known, served without pay, provided their own
stallions, arms and frequently their sustenance (SMITHSONIAN.COM).

Others argue that even after Charleston fell, Francis Marion
determination and resourcefulness helped keep the American Independence alive
in the South. (SMITHSONIAN.COM) The general population memory of Francis
Marion has been molded in substantial part by the principal account about him,
The Life of General Francis Marion, composed by M. L. Weems (otherwise called
Parson Weems, 1756– 1825) in view of the diaries of South Carolina officer
Peter Horry. The New York Times has depicted Weems as one of the “early
hagiographers” of American writing “who raised the Swamp Fox, Francis
Marion, into the American pantheon”. Weems is known for having concocted
the spurious “cherry tree” tale about George Washington and
“Marion’s life gotten comparable frivolity”, as Amy Crawford wrote in
Smithsonian Magazine in 2007. Luckily, the genuine Francis Marion has not been
completely darkened by his legend—students of history including William Gilmore
Simms and Hugh Rankin have composed precise life stories. Considering the
actualities alone, “Marion should be recognized as one of the legends of
the War for Independence,” says Busick, who has composed the prologue to
another version of Simms’ The Life of Francis Marion, out in June 2007. Most
legends of the Revolution were not the holy people that biographers like Parson
Weems would have them be, and Francis Marion was a man of his circumstances: he
claimed slaves, and he battled in a fierce crusade against the Cherokee
Indians. While not respectable by the present gauges, Marion’s involvement in
the French and Indian War set him up for more honorable administration. The
Cherokee utilized the scene further bolstering their good fortune, Marion
discovered; they covered themselves in the Carolina boondocks and mounted
obliterating ambushes. After two decades, Marion would apply these strategies
against the British. (SMITHSONIAN.COM)

The reason I strongly argue that we should have a Francis
Marion Day, is because without Francis Marion, who is to say how the war would
have ended (MILITARY OFFICER, 1998). Would the Revolutionary War militia have
gotten very far without his determination and wittiness? Could Americans claim
South Carolina as their own if the British had won the war? Would we have a
city called Marion SC, or a college called Francis Marion? Would we be able to
go to Charleston SC and consider the area historical? Would any other soldier
or leader been given the name Swamp Fox? Now for all these questions, I have
the answer. Perhaps because of Francis Marion wittiness, the Revolutionary War
militia did get far. Marion observed the tactics that was used against him in
the French and Indian war to help him beat the British. Perhaps if the British had
won the war, South Carolina would not be an Independent state. Perhaps if it had
not been for Francis Marion, we would not have a reason to name a city Marion
or a college Francis Marion. If you are ever in Charleston SC, you should to go
on a tour of the plantation that Francis Marion fought for. Francis (Swamp Fox)
Marion deserves a Francis Marion Day.
















Works Cited
Crawford, Amy. “The Swamp Fox.” SMITHSONIAN.COM,
30 June 2007,
“Francis Marion.” New
World Encyclopedia, . 24 Apr 2017, 22:46 UTC. 10 Jan 2018,
04:15 .
Gray, Jefferson M. “Francis Marion Foils the
British.” HISTORYNET, 31 Aug. 2011,
Patten, Bob. “Marion South Carolina – The Swamp Fox.” HERE
Pavao, Janelle and Esther. “Francis Marion ‘The Swamp
Stroud, Mike. ” Francis Marion / Francis Marion’s
The Editors of Encyclopædia Britannica, editor. “Francis
Chauhan, John Higgins, Gloria Lotha, Marco Sampaolo, Amy Tikkanen, 20 July

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