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Francis Marion

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Brigadier General Francis Marion was one of the principle military leaders of the Continental Army in the southern colonies during the Revolutionary War.  He was a prominent South Carolina plantation owner who was a member of the South Carolina Provincial Congress and had voted in favor of rebellion against the crown.  Because he employed irregular warfare tactics against the British while successfully evading capture, he became known as the “Swamp Fox.” Francis Marion After the conclusion of the Revolutionary War, he continued his political career and was elected to the South Carolina Senate.

The Marions were French Huguenots who immigrated to the British colony of South Carolina in approximately 1685.  They settled in Berkeley County, near Georgetown where they became plantation owners.  Francis was born in 1732 and as a young man learned the skill necessary to manage the family’s lands.  The outbreak of the French and Indian War, however, threatened the peace and stability of the western regions of the colonies.  Although Francis did not participate in the War, he gained military experience in the conflict against the Cherokee that broke out in 1759.

During the French and Indian War, the Cherokees who lived in the western region of South Carolina had allied themselves with the English.  Near the conclusion of the War, the Cherokees returned to their homeland from expeditions to the north to aid the English.  Since they had lost many of their horses in the fighting, they believed they could help themselves to the livestock of the English settlers, which they viewed as compensation for their services.  As a result, they stole a significant number of horses from Virginian settlers who immediately attacked the Cherokee warriors.  This started a war between the Cherokee nation and the colonists that eventually spread to South Carolina.

When Governor Lyttleton of South Carolina called out the militia to protect the colonists from the Cherokee, Marion accompanied a cavalry troop commanded by his brother as a lieutenant.  During the lengthy campaign, he became acquainted with the tactics of Captain Morrison who commanded a company of rangers.  These marksmen would use stealth and surprise to attack the Cherokee, swiftly raiding from the cover of the woods then returning to concealment.  These tactics proved effective and made a strong impression on Marion who would later use them in the Revolutionary War.

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