Patriot Militia General Francis Marion
||Born: 1732; St. John's Parish, Berkeley County, South Carolina
Died: February 26, 1795; Pond's Bluff, South Carolina
Battles: Fort Sullivan
Additional Information: Camden, Charleston, King's Mountain, Charles Cornwallis, Horatio Gates, Nathanael Greene, Henry Lee, William Moultrie, Thomas Sumter, Banastre Tarleton
Southern Campaign: April-September 1780
Francis Marion escaped capture at the fall of Charleston on May 12, 1780 because he was afield. He had attended a party, where heavy spirits were involved. The host, Captain Alexander McQueen, had locked the doors to ensure that his guests freely partook of his wine. Marion drank sparingly and to escape the drunken festivities, he jumped from a second floor window, fracturing his ankle. As a result, he was unfit for duty and required to leave the city in April 1780 under a general order from Maj. General Benjamin Lincoln and was not present when was surrendered to Lt. General Henry Clinton.
In late July 1780, Marion briefly joined Maj. General Horatio Gates on his march to Camden, South Carolina. Marion was ordered to gather intelligence on the movements of the British. Following Gates' defeat at Camden on August 16 and the routing of Thomas Sumter's militia at Fishing Creek on August 18, 1780, by Lt. Colonel Banastre Tarleton left no organized resistance in South Carolina. Marion now began building the legend of the Swamp Fox by using guerrilla warfare against the British. He harrassed supply lines and then disappeared into the swamps of South Carolina to his hiding place at Snow's Island.
Great Savannah, South Carolina: August 20, 1780
In early August 1780, General Gates had instructed Marion to destroy boats along the Santee River. On August 17th, Marion dispatched four dragoon companies to operate against Georgetown, while he made for the Santee River. On August 19th, Marion learned of Gates' defeat, but told his men nothing. That evening, he learned of prisoners from Camden camped at Thomas Sumter's abandoned plantation at Great Savannah. In spite of being outnumbered, Marion prepared for a surprise attack at dawn on August 20th. That morning, he surprised and routed British regulars of the 63rd Regiment. Marion had succeeded in liberating about 150 prisoners from the Continental Maryland line.
General Cornwallis' Response
Following the victory, Marion retreated to the swamp. Lt. General Charles Earl Cornwallis quickly responded to this new threat to his line of communication to Charleston. He sent Major James Wemyss of the same 63rd Regiment after Marion and any other rebel militia on August 28, 1780. Wemyss began his raid along the upper Peedee River on September 5, but he only succeeded in sending more men to volunteer in Marion's militia because of the brutal tactics he employed against the people of the backcountry. He would carve a fifteen mile wide path of destruction but had no luck in capturing Marion.
Blue Savannah, South Carolina: September 4, 1780
Following the his victory at Great Savannah, Marion rode sixty miles east to Port's Ferry on the Peedee River. He was now safe from attack from the west, but a new danger appeared to the northeast. Tory Major Micajah Ganey called out his Tory militia and began moving down the Little Peedee River early on September 4, 1780. Marion moved to meet this threat even though he would be outnumbered 250 to 50. (Continued ->)
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