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William W. Boddie's never-before-published biography of Francis Marion was originally written in the 1930s. The manuscript had been abandoned until 1996 when the Williamsburg Historical Society of Kingstree, S.C., learned of it and the Boddie family's desire to see it published. Boddie was a resident of Kingstree.

Now it is in print from the Reprint Co., Publishers, of Spartanburg, S.C., and is called Traditions of the Swamp Fox: William W. Boddie's Francis Marion. Gen. Francis Marion, the Revolutionary War partisan commander, was known as the Swamp Fox, and he is one of the most famous personalities in all of South Carolina history.

Marion was a man of outstanding abilities with a personality that commanded admiration and loyalty. As commander of a small band of ragged partisans, he baffled, harassed and sometimes defeated such efficient English officers as Lord Rawdon and Banastre Tarleton. For two years, Marion's regiment was the only significant American force in Lowcountry South Carolina. Usually associated with his lair on Snow's Island, Marion operated in the region of Lynches Creek and along the Pee Dee and Black rivers, emerging from the swamps and rivers at night to strike at forces much larger than his own and disappearing into the bogs and forests by day. His band was composed of men who followed him through the Carolina swamps without adequate pay, clothing, ammunition, recognition or hope of reward. Their contribution to the cause of American liberty was great. Traditions of the Swamp Fox is a contribution not to the scholarly pursuit of the elusive partisan general but to the great body of folklore and legend that has grown up around this colorful figure. It is a personable and entertaining account by a resident of the area in which Marion operated, based in part on stories told by descendants of the general's acquaintances, servants, and soldiers and on traditions passed down through the Mouzon family, relatives of Marion's closest friend. Much of the book is devoted to tales of Marion's personal life. Dispelling the reputation Marion acquired in the South Carolina legislature as "the Silent Man," Boddie depicted him as generous, humane, fun-loving, and gregarious, a man who delighted in extended visits to the various members of the Marion clan. These nephews and nieces regarded him as a surrogate father, and his former soldiers found a hearty welcome at his home as long as he lived. Most interesting perhaps are accounts of his marriage, contracted after the war when he was in his 50s, and in which the hitherto undefeated warrior finally met his match.

In an excellent scholarly introduction to this volume, Steven D. Smith, a Marion researcher and archaeologist with the South Carolina Institute of Archaeology and Anthropology at the University of South Carolina, explains the difficulties in the Marion tradition. He places Boddie's work in the context of other biographies of the Swamp Fox, gives the background of the present publication, and summarizes the life of William Willis Boddie V, an amateur historian who wrote hundreds of sketches about Williamsburg County and the region around Kingstree. His best known published works were the History of Williamsburg (1923) and General Francis Marion's Men, a list of the partisans who fought with the Swamp Fox. His last work, the biography of Marion, was not published in Boddie's lifetime and was abandoned until 1996, when the Williamsburg Historical Society learned of the manuscript. This interesting book is filled with names from this period of time and is a great genealogical reference. The book is available from Thomas E. Smith, The Reprint Co., Publishers, P.O. Box 5401, Spartanburg, SC 29304. It sells for $38.50, postage and handling included. South Carolina residents need to add $1.75 sales tax. It's a nice addition for any genealogical or historical library.

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