Francis Marion (1732
) was an American soldier and folk hero who earned a grudging respect and the nickname "the Swamp Fox" from his British opponents as the commander of the South Carolina
militia during the American Revolution
Marion was born in Winyah, South Carolina in 1832, to a second-generation French-American farming family. His military career began in 1761 when he served with distinction in a British expedition against the Cherokees. In 1775, on the eve of the Revolutionary War, he was elected to the first provincial congress of South Carolina, and later that year the congress appointed him captain of the newly organized South Carolina state militia. In September of 1775 Marion commanded his militia in the capture of British forts at Charleston.
In 1776, the Continental Congress incorporated Marion' militia into the Continental Army and promoted him to lieutenant colonel. Marion spent the next four years in command of a regiment, taking part in several minor battles and fighting under Benjamin Lincoln at Savannah in 1779.
When the British defeated the Rebels at Camden and captured Charleston in 1780, the Continental Army withdrew from the south. Marion chose to stay behind, however, organizing a poorly equipped but well-trained guerrilla force of about 80 men, which became the only American resistence left in the whole of the South.
Living off the land, Marion and his men constantly harassed British troops, staging precision surprise attacks in which they captured small groups of British soldiers, sabotaged communication and supply lines, rescued American prisoners, and intimidated Loyalists. The British organized several expeditions to capture Marion and his men, but he was always able to escape into the depths of the Carolina swamps, causing British colonel Banastre Tarleton to complain that no man could ever catch that "swamp fox."
After a year all on their own, American forces under General Nathanael Greene and Light-Horse Harry Lee liberated North Carolina in the Carolina Campaign, allowing reinforcements to reach Marion and his ragtag band. Serving under Greene, Marion fought in some of the last battles of the war, most notably the battle of Eutaw Springs on September 8, 1781. After the war, Marion served in the newly formed South Carolina Senate, where he advocated forgiveness for former Loyalists.