LIFE OF FRANCIS MARION
b. c. 1732, Winyah, S.C.
d. Feb. 26, 1795, Berkeley County, South Carolina
"THE SWAMP FOX", colonial American soldier in the U.S. War of
Independence (1775-83), nicknamed by the British commander Colonel Banastre
("Bannister") Tarleton for his elusive tactics.
Marion's parents were French Huguenots who lived and farmed along the
Santee River. He was the grandson of Benjamin Marion, a native of Poitou, who came to
the province in 1690; and the fifth and youngest son of Gabriel Marion, who married
Marion gained his first military experience fighting against the Cherokee
Indians in 1759. In 1775 he was elected to the first provincial congress of South Carolina.
That same year, with America on the brink of revolution, the congress commissioned him a captain of
the newly-formed 2nd South Carolina Regiment. In September 1775 Marion commanded the capture of British forts in
Charleston, South Carolina.
Promoted to major in February, 1776, he participated in the defense of
Charleston on June 28. Later in 1776 was promoted to Lieutenant Colonel and assumed command
of the regiment. In October, 1779, he led his command in an unsuccessful assault against
In 1780, Gen. Benjamin Lincoln surrendered Charleston to the British, but Marion, with a broken ankle, eluded
capture. He slipped away to the swamps, gathered together his band of guerrillas, and then began leading his bold raids.
Marion and his irregulars often defeated larger bodies of British troops
by the surprise and rapidity of their movement over swampy terrain.
In late 1780 he was appointed Brigadier General of the S.C. Militia. In
cooperation with troops under the command of Henry Lee, he raided Georgetown and took
Fort Watson and Fort Motte. He went on to support attacks on Augusta and Ninety-Six, S.C.
Near the end of the war, Marion and American General Nathanael Greene joined
forces. In 1781 they successfully fought at the Battle of Eutaw Springs and forced the
British retreat to North Carolina. For a daring rescue of Americans surrounded by the
British at Parkers Ferry, S.C. (August 1781), Marion received the thanks of Congress.
He was then appointed a brigadier general, and after the war he served in the senate of
South Carolina (1782-90).
While still leader of his brigade, Marion was elected to the senate of
South Carolina in 1781. He was re-elected in 1782 and again in 1784, after the war had ended.
In appreciation for his military service, the state legislature appointed Marion commander
of Fort Johnson, in Charleston.
In 1786, he married Mary Esther Videau. The couple had no children and he
died at his home "Pond Bluff," on Feb. 27, 1795. He is buried at Belle Isle, near present
day St. Stephens, S.C.
The Life of Francis Marion by William Gilmore Simms
Project Gutenberg's E-text of Simms' book. (Large file--may take a minute or
so to download if you're on dial-up)
A Sketch of the Life of Brig.
General Francis Marion
By William Dobein James, A.M. (Member of Marion's Militia)
The Life of General Francis Marion, (1809) by Mason Locke Weems *
Project Gutenberg's E-text of Weems' book. (Large file--may take a minute or so
to download if you're on dial-up)
* PARSON WEEMS
To understand the writings of Parson Weems, it may be helpful to know a
little about the man. The following information was taken from an article
in the Marion Star, date not indicated. The original information was
published by Bishop Mead in the Southern Churchman.
"In his youth Parson Weems lived in Charles county MD with the family of
Mr. Jennifer. They considered him a boy of principle and had no doubts as
to his uprightness and morality. When he was about 14 years of age, he
began gathering neighborhood children and servants around him, giving them
instruction and reading scripture.
He called himself an Episcopal minister but knew no distinction between
churches. He preached in every pulpit to which he could gain access, and
where he could recommend his books.
He became a travelling bookseller for Mr. Matthew Carey, who was a Roman
Catholic, of Philadelphia, visiting all the States south of Pennsylvania
and perhaps some north of it, in a little wagon.
Some of Mr. Weems' pamphlets on drunkenness and gambling would be most
admirable in their effects, but for the fact that you know not what to
believe of the narrative---.
His histories of Washington and Marion are very popular, but the same must
be said of them. You know not how much of fiction there is in them."
Having been advised not to consider his books as accurate histories, they
may still be read for enjoyment. They have not lost their fascination for
readers who enjoy his subjects.
(Extracted from The Marion Star newspaper, FHL film #0855218, and
contributed by William Snipes)
Gen. Marion's Epitaph
Sacred to the Memory of BRIG. GEN. FRANCIS MARION,
Who departed this life, on the 27th of February, 1795,~ In the
Sixty-Third Year of his Age; Deeply regretted by all his fellow
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.
This tribute of veneration and gratitude is erected in
commemoration of the noble and disinterested virtues of the
CITIZEN; and the gallant exploits of the SOLDIER; Who lived
without fear, and died without reproach.
Taken from the marble slab at Belle Isle, this 20th September,
1821, by Theodore Gourdin.
Graphics by Victoria
Last revised on 2 Oct 2011.
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