Francis Marion and Guerilla Warfare in the South - Marion+and+Guerilla...Francis Marion and Guerilla Warfare in the South Haydn Call—Larry H. Miller Revolutionary War History Seminar Many have heard of old Benjamin Martin—the loving father, the unfortunate widower, the caring and

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  • Francis Marion and Guerilla Warfare in the South Haydn CallLarry H. Miller Revolutionary War History Seminar

    Many have heard of old Benjamin Martinthe loving father, the unfortunate widower, the caring and

    kind overseer of free blacks, the noble veteran of the French and Indian War, and the heroic leader during the American Revolution. Benjamin Martin is a character that Americans love. Unfortunately, Benjamin Martin is in fact fictional, a person created by the makers of The Patriot, a Hollywood film that came out in 2000. The film stars Mel Gibson and Heath Ledger. It was directed by Roland Emmerich and written by Robert Rodat.

    Mel Gibson does an excellent job in The Patriot. The clothing and accoutrements used to make the popular film are historically accurate. The war portrayed in the film actually occurred. Also, many of the scenes in the film were based on actual events. Hollywood nonetheless, makes films in order to make a profit and therefore must create a picture that is attractive to the consumer; even if it takes away from the accuracy of the historical events depicted. Benjamin Martin was a character inspired by the true heroFrancis The Swamp Fox Marion.

    The Revolutionary War battles in the northern colonies tend to receive the most attention in the history books, but the fighting in the south was even more bitter and divisive.1 Francis Marion played a major role in the skirmishes that took place in the south, mainly in South Carolina, the place of his birth in 1732. Ultimately, more battles and skirmishes were fought in South Carolina than in any other state during the war,2 making Marions role in guerilla warfare pivotal. He and his men, those of whom were mainly local farmers, would attack British posts and soldiers, using techniques Marion learned while fighting Indians with the British. After a quick attack, Marion and his men would retreat into the southern swamps, regroup, recover, and plan the next confrontation. After Major James Wemyss failures, Lieutenant Colonel Banastre Tarleton was put in charge by Lord Cornwallis to capture or kill Marion and his illusive swamp dwelling soldiers. Tarleton or Bloody Ban, as the rebels called him, was known for his destructive and brutal war tactics, as well as coining the nickname of MarionThe Swamp Fox. Author William Gilmore Simms wrote, Marion is proverbially the great master of strategynever to be caught, never to be followed--yet always at hand, with unconjectured promptness, at the moment when he is least feared and is least to be expected. His pre-eminence in this peculiar and most difficult of all kinds of warfare, is not to be disputed.3 Tarleton once said to his men, but for this damned old fox, the devil himself could not catch him.4 Marion was truly a talented fighter and leader.

    Marion and his men continued to wreak havoc on the British. His war tactics and illusive style paid off in the end, for Francis Marion lived through the war. After an unsuccessful attempt at finding the Swamp Fox, Lord Cornwallis took his troops north to the Virginia Peninsulaa regretful mistake. The only great suffering Marion experienced during the war was the personal loss of his nephew Gabriel. Though not married at the time of the Revolution, Marion married a wealthy cousin, Mary Esther Videau, in 1786, and died on February 27, 1795, well on his way to becoming a legend.5

    1 Thomsen, Paul A. The Devil Himself Could Not Catch Him, American History 35 (August 2000): 48. 2 British Maneuvers in the South Led to Americas First Civil War, American History 44 (April 2009): 52. 3 Simms, William Gilmore. The Life of Francis Marion: The Swamp Fox. (Digital Antiquaria, 2004); 8. 4 Ibid, 84.5Thomsen, Paul A. The Devil Himself Could Not Catch Him, American History 35 (August 2000): 52

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