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: December 1780-March 1781
Marion's Brigade: December 1780
In December, 1780, Francis Marion was promoted from colonel to brigadier general by South Carolina Governor John Rutledge. The commission had actually been promised on August 14, 1780, when both Marion and Rutledge were in Maj. General Horatio Gates' camp. However, Marion did not begin serving in that capacity until Rutledge notified the South Carolina delegation to the Continental Congress on December 30, 1780.
Marion then went about organizing what would be known as Marion's Brigade. Colonel Peter Horry commanded the mounted elements made up of troops under Major. Lemuel Benson and Captains John Baxter, John Postell, Daniel Conyers and James McCauley. Peter's brother, Lt. Colonel Hugh Horry commanded the infantry elements with companies commanded by Major John James and Captains John James, James Postell and James Witherspoon. Colonel Hugh Ervin served as Marion's second-in-command, while Captains John Milton, Lewis Ogier and Thomas Elliott served as Aides de Camp.
Maj. General Nathanael Greene Arrives: December 1780
When the new Southern Department Commander Maj. General Nathanael Greene arrived in North Carolina in December 1780, he immediately set about rehabilitating his depleated force. Unlike General Gates, Greene reached out to the local militia leaders in a way to gain their cooperation, rather than just issue commands to men who were used to acting independently. Greene named Marion his brigadier general of the militia, but Marion still mostly acted independently with occasional cooperation with Greene's operations.
Georgetown, South Carolina: January 24, 1781
Lt. Colonel Henry Lee joined Marion for operations in late January 1781. On the evening of January 22nd, Lee's infantry moved down the Peedee River and hide on an island near Georgetown where 200 British troops were garrisoned. On the night of January 23rd, those troops slipped undetected onto the town's waterfront. One party seized the garrison commander, while the other party moved into position to cut off the troops from manning the fortifications. Marion and Lee charged through the light defenses to link up with the infantry. The rebels were astounded to find that none of the British troops attempted to man the garrison. Without siege equipment and not wanting to receive casualties in an assault, Lee and Marion withdrew.
General Cornwallis' Response: February-March 1781
Following his operations with Lt. Colonel Lee, Marion operated independently for several months. In February 1781, Thomas Sumter called on Marion to join him in an expedition, but the two were never able to link up. Following Sumter's withdrawal, Lt. General Charles Cornwallis launched a campaign to eliminate Marion and his militia. On March 5, 1781, Lt. Colonel John Watson was detached with 500 Tories "for the purpose of dispersing the plunderers that infested the eastern frontier."
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