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A Sketch of the Life of Brig. Gen. Francis Marion by William Dobein James.

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was short, and seemed at one time to promise us advantage; but we were obliged
to retire and give up the field; though without material loss.
We are now within five miles of Camden, and shall closely invest it
in a day or two again. That we may be enabled to operate with more certainty
against this post, I should be glad you would move up immediately
to our assistance, and take post on the north side of the town.
I have detached a field piece to your assistance, with an escort
of a few continental troops under the command of Major Eaton.
I should be glad you would send them a guide and conduct them to your camp.

I am, Sir,
With great esteem and respect,
Yours, &c.
N. Greene.

P.S. -- I should be glad you would move up within seven miles of Camden.


Gen. Greene to Gen. Marion.

~Camp, at Cornal's Creek, May 9, 1781.~

Dear Sir,

I am favoured with yours of the 6th instant. I am sorry
the militia are deserting,* because there is no greater support.
If they were influenced by proper principles, and were impressed
with a love of liberty and a dread of slavery, they would not shrink
at difficulties. If we had a force sufficient to recover the country,
their aid would not be wanted, and they cannot be well acquainted
with their true interest to desert us, because they conceive our force
unequal to the reduction of the country without their consent.
I shall be always happy to see you at head quarters, but cannot think
you seriously mean to solicit leave to go to Philadelphia.
It is true your task has been disagreeable, but not more so than others.
It is now going on seven years since the commencement of this war.
I have never had leave of absence an hour, nor paid the least attention
to my own private affairs. Your state is invaded; your all is at stake;
what has been done will signify nothing unless we persevere to the end.
I left a wife in distress and every thing dear and valuable,
to come and afford you all the assistance in my power, and if you leave us
in the midst of our difficulties, while you have it so much in your power
to promote the service, it must throw a damp upon the spirits of the army,
to find that the first men in the state are retiring from the busy service,
to indulge themselves in more agreeable amusements. However, your reasons
for wishing to decline the command of the militia, may be more pressing
than I imagine. I will therefore, add nothing more upon this subject
till I see you. My reasons for writing so pressingly respecting the dragoons,
was from the distress we were in. It is not my wish to take the horses
from the militia if it will injure the public service --
the effects and consequences you can better judge of than I can.
You have rendered important service to the public with the militia
under your command, and done great honour to yourself; and I would not wish
to render your situation less agreeable with them, unless it is to answer
some very great purpose; and this I persuade myself you would agree to
from a desire to promote the public good. I wish you success
in the fort you are besieging. Lord Rawdon was out yesterday;
we had the night before taken a new position on Sawney's creek, and I imagine
he came out to attack, expecting to find us on the Twenty-five mile creek.
We did not like the position on Sawney's creek to risk an action on,
and therefore took a new one at this place, leaving the horse,
light infantry and picketts at the old encampment; the enemy came and drew up
on the other side of the creek, but did not attempt to cross,
and retired into Camden before night. We are in daily expectation
of a large reinforcement of Virginia militia and some continental troops;
when those arrive we shall push our operations with more vigour.
No further news of Lord Cornwallis.

* This letter is an answer to one of Marion's, (which is missing,)
soon after his arrival at Fort Watson, with only eighty men. See page 109.
[Chapter III Paragraph 26. See Simms for more complete details. -- A. L.]

I am, Sir,
With the highest esteem and regard,
Yours, &c.
N. Greene.


Gen. Greene to Gen. Marion.

~Camp, before Ninety-Six, June 10, 1781.~

Dear Sir,

I have to acknowledge the receipt of your favours of the 22d and 29th ult.
It gives me great pleasure to hear the enemy have left Georgetown,
and I am of opinion with you, that it will be attended
with many good consequences to that part of the country.
After you have dismantled the enemy's works, you will collect your force,
take the position you mentioned, and act in conjunction with Gen. Sumter,
agreeable to the advice I gave you before. I have the pleasure
to congratulate you on the reduction of the enemy's fort at Augusta.
This event took place on the 7th inst. by capitulation;
and I hope in a few days to have the pleasure of congratulating you
on the reduction of this place; but we are opposed to many difficulties,
and the garrison resists with great obduracy.

I am, Sir,
With every sentiment of respect and esteem,
Yours, &c.
N. Greene.


Extract of a Letter from Gen. Greene to Gen. Marion.

~Head Quarters, near Sandy River, June 25, 1781.~

Dear Sir,

I am favoured with your letter dated at the Congaree.
The enemy have obliged us to raise the siege of Ninety-Six,
when it was upon the eve of surrendering. It was my wish
to have fought Lord Rawdon before he reached Ninety-Six,
and could I have collected your force and that of Gen. Sumter and Pickens,
I would have done it: and am persuaded we should have defeated him;
but being left alone, I was obliged to retire.

N. Greene.



(1) About this etext.
(2) A. S. Salley's Introduction from the 1948 edition.
(3) For the purists: A list of changes and corrections to the text.

(1) About this etext.

This etext was prepared from the original 1821 edition and the 1948 edition.
In the case of any differences in the text, the 1821 edition was used,
except where there was an obvious mistake (see the section for the purists).
Although the 1948 edition maintained the original text as far as possible,
a few errors crept in -- only one which changed the meaning of the text,
and only in a minor way. This etext was transcribed twice,
and electronically compared using "diff". This weeds out most errors,
so that, with the correction of a number of errors in the original,
this is very likely the cleanest copy to date.

As far as I can tell, the original text has only been published twice
in unaltered form: in 1821 (Gould and Riley, Charleston, S. C.) and in 1948.
That made it very difficult to find this text. I am indebted to the following
for their help in procuring these:

The librarians in the Southern Literature section at the Public Library
in Birmingham, Alabama, for helping me in the search for the 1821 edition.

Carolyn Lancaster, (lancaster_carolyn/furman@furman.edu)
a Library Assistant at the Special Collections Department,
Furman University Library, Greenville, South Carolina,
for kindly aiding me to acquire a photocopy of the 1821 edition.
(The Collection contains the South Carolina Baptist materials
and Furman University Archives and older, non-circulating, "rare books",
such as this one.) Phone: (864) 294-2194. Fax: (864) 294-3004.
Mail: Special Collections, Furman University Library, 3300 Poinsett Hwy.,
Greenville, SC 29613. Web: http://carolus.furman.edu/library/welcome

Gary M. Johnson, at the Library of Congress (gjohnson@mail.loc.gov),
for a great deal of help, including a copy of the 1948 edition.
The online Library of Congress catalog is at: http://lcweb.loc.gov/

This etext was prepared by Alan Robert Light (alight@mercury.interpath.net),
who, as a former member of the South Carolina National Guard,
has a special interest in the subject. Two related works are already online,
They are the biographies of Francis Marion by the Rev. Mason Locke Weems
and by William Gilmore Simms. The Weems biography is full of errors,
and is more useful as literature than as history. Weems is the same author
who invented the anecdote about George Washington and the Cherry Tree.
William Gilmore Simms was a prominent South Carolina author,
who wrote many books of history, fiction, and poetry.
His 1844 biography of Marion is the broadest in scope of the three,
and probably the best for the casual reader. Of course,
the interested reader should read all three biographies.

(The information on Web pages, etc. is correct as of 21 May 1997.)

(2) A. S. Salley's Introduction from the 1948 edition.

A. S. Salley wrote several works of genealogy and S. C. local history.
He also wrote this short introduction to the 1948 edition,
which we have checked, and IS in the public domain.

Introduction to New Edition.

-- By A. S. Salley.

But for an accident General Francis Marion probably would not have been
the hero of the Revolution that he became.

In June, 1775, the Provincial Congress of South Carolina,
the extra-legal body of the revolting people of the province,
organized three regiments of regular troops in preparation
against any attempt at coercion by the British government.
The first and second regiments were constituted as infantry, or foot;
the third regiment as rangers, or horse.

The Congress elected twenty captains to man the first and second regiments,
and they took seniority according to their standing in the vote.
Francis Marion was elected one of the twenty captains and stood
third in the balloting and was assigned to the Second Regiment,
ranking second to Capt. Barnard Elliott.

In November, 1775, an artillery regiment was organized and Capt. Elliott
was promoted to major thereof. In February, 1776, a regiment of rifles
was organized and Major McIntosh of the Second was promoted
to be lieutenant-colonel thereof, which advanced Captain Marion
to the majority of the Second Regiment.

On September 16, 1776, the six regular regiments of South Carolina
were taken on the Continental Establishment and Colonel William Moultrie,
of the Second Regiment, was promoted to brigadier general;
Lieutenant-Colonel Motte was promoted to colonel and Major Marion
became the lieutenant-colonel. Colonel Motte resigned September 23, 1778,
and Marion became commander of the regiment.

As British regiments were commanded by lieutenant-colonels,
British authorities refused to exchange a captured Continental colonel
for one of their lieutenant-colonels in the hands of the Americans.
This complication caused the Continental Congress to cease promoting
lieutenant-colonels to colonels, and so Marion remained
as lieutenant-colonel of the Second Regiment, South Carolina Line,
Continental Establishment, until mustered out of the service
in February, 1783.

While a British fleet and army were besieging Charles Town March 28 - May 12,
1780, Lieutenant Colonel Marion sprained an ankle, which rendered him
unfit for active duty. Soon after General Lincoln published an order
furloughing him to his plantation until able to resume active duty,
but Charles Town was captured before Marion was able to return.

When General Gates was sent down to Hillsboro, North Carolina,
to take command of the Southern Army he published an order
directing all Continental officers and men not on parole to report to him
at Hillsboro. Marion was the senior officer of South Carolina to report.
His regiment having been captured with the garrison of Charles Town
Marion was without a command. He was directed by Gates
to go down to the Santee River and assemble a militia force
and destroy the ferry boats on the river to prevent the British
from retreating to Charles Town or receiving aid therefrom.
Marion found a willing force of militia at hand on the Santee
with which he speedily drove off the guard at Murray's Ferry
and captured the guard at Nelson's Ferry and also captured
a convoy from Cornwallis's army taking American prisoners to Charles Town.
From then on he was very active. In November, 1780, Governor Rutledge
appointed him brigadier general of the Lower Brigade of the State militia
and his activity knew no bounds from then to the end of the war.

This history of Marion's career thereafter, accurately and authentically
tells the story, for Judge James, its author, was one of Marion's
active officers.

Perhaps Marion's highly meritorious services would never have received
the widespread attention that has been accorded them
had it not been for a fictitious publication issued in 1809
by Matthew Carey, a well known publisher, of Philadelphia, entitled:
~The / Life / of / Gen. Francis Marion, / a Celebrated / Partizan Officer, /
in / The Revolutionary War, / against the / British and Tories,
in South-Carolina and Georgia.~ From documents furnished
by his brother in arms, Brigadier-General P. Horry: and his nephew,
the Hon. Robert Marion, Esq. of Congress.

General Peter Horry, who had been one of Marion's most active colonels,
had written a history of Marion's brigade, but had not readily
found a publisher when he encountered Rev. Mason L. Weems,
an itinerant book agent and preacher. Weems persuaded Horry
to let him have the manuscript, assuring him that he would secure
a publisher. Horry agreed, but admonished Weems "not to alter
the sense or meaning of my work, least when it came out I might not know it;
and, perverted, it might convey a very different meaning from the truth."
Those were Horry's own words to Weems, as recalled by Horry to Weems
in a letter dated at Georgetown, S.C., February 4, 1811.

In the same letter he reminded Weems: "I requested you would (if necessary)
so far alter the work as to make it read grammatically, and I gave you leave
to embellish the work, but entertained not the least idea of what has happened
-- though several of my friends were under such apprehensions,
which caused my being urgent on you not to alter as above mentioned." . . .
"Nor have the public received the real history of General Marion.
You have carved and mutilated it with so many erroneous statements
your embellishments, observation and remarks, must necessarily be erroneous
as proceeding from false grounds. Most certainly 'tis not my history,
but your romance." . . . "Can you suppose I can be pleased
with reading particulars (though so elevated, by you) of Marion and myself,
when I know such never existed."

The book has been through scores of editions and printings
and the falsehoods that Weems concocted -- sometimes in malice --
have been accepted as truth and retold throughout the United States
and used in encyclopaedias and text books, government reports
and political speeches. As a result, Marion has been honored
by having counties and towns named for him to an extent equalled or surpassed
by few of America's greatest men.

Judge James's book had but a limited circulation and it has long been
a very scarce book; hence it has not been the factor it should have been
in correcting the fabrications in Weems's book.

Judge James's book is not entirely free from error. He begins
his first chapter with the statement: "Francis Marion was born at Winyaw,
near Georgetown, South-Carolina, in the year 1732." Marion's family had
no connection with Georgetown until six or seven years after Marion's birth,
when his father moved with his family to that town from St. John's Parish,
Berkeley, where he had resided since marriage. His wife's family
resided in the adjoining St. James's Parish, Goose Creek, and, as there is
no definite record of the place of Marion's birth, it could have been
at the home of either family. The year of his birth cannot be fixed as 1732.
The inscription on his tombstone gives the date of his death
as February 27, 1795, "in the sixty-third year of his age."
If he had been born at any time between January 1st and February 26, 1733,
he would have been in the 63rd year of his age February 27, 1795.

(3) For the purists: A list of changes and corrections to the text.

The following changes in spelling were made, to update them.
In some cases, both spellings were used, or an odd spelling was only used
in one distinguishable section of the text. They are listed more or less
in the order they appeared in the text.

South-Carolina > South Carolina
Broad-Street > Broad Street
North-Carolina > North Carolina
Major Weymss > Major Wemyss (both spellings given in the original)
These spellings appeared only in the quotations from Lawson:
staid > stayed
turkies > turkeys
hickorynuts > hickory nuts
West-Indies > West Indies
Hugonots > Huguenots
(The correct spelling is the latter, but the former spelling
may have some connection with the common American mispronunciation,
as "Hyoo-go-nots", rather than "Hyoo-ga-nose".)
intreaties > entreaties
Great-Britain > Great Britain
co-operate > cooperate
ancle > ankle
controul > control (both spellings given in text)
shew > show
New-Orleans > New Orleans
dispair > despair (extract from Lincoln's letter, chapter I)
Port-Royal > Port Royal
New-York > New York
Lenud's-ferry > Lenud's ferry (both spellings given in text)
Black-Mingo > Black Mingo
harrassed > harassed
adviseable > advisable
New-Jersey > New Jersey
Goose-Creek > Goose Creek
Wyley > Wiley (both spellings in a footnote, only Wiley in the text)
downfal > downfall
three pounders > three-pounders
alledged > alleged
swoln > swollen
six pounder > six-pounder
intreat > entreat (Gen. Greene's letter, Chapter III)
New-England > New England
True-Blue > True Blue
All-Saints > All Saints
These spellings appeared only in the Appendix:
Your's > Yours
inclose > enclose

Frequently the hyphen was omitted from numbers, but not always.
A few specific cases:
twenty five > twenty-five
twenty four > twenty-four
seventy five > seventy-five
thirty five > thirty-five


coersion > coercion (in Salley's introduction)

Corrections to the 1821 text:

Moultrie himself was more too blame > Moultrie himself was more to blame
Chapter I Paragraph 6 ^^

Maj. Benjamin Huger, an active officer, a wise statesmen, > statesman
Chapter I Paragraph 7 ^

113 men were killed of the American's > of the Americans
Chapter II Paragraph 7 ^^

abhored either submission or vassalage > abhorred either . . .
Chapter II Paragraph 8 ^^

in the the praise of his father. > in the praise of his father.
Chapter II Paragraph 16 ^^^

and join Gen. Green > and join Gen. Greene
Chapter II Paragraph 19 ^

moving up for that pupose > moving up for that purpose
Chapter II Paragraph 19 ^

in the case of his country > in the cause of his country
Chapter II Paragraph 24 ^

and and marching two or three hours > and marching two or three hours
Chapter II Paragraph 25 ^^^

two days and an half > two days and a half
Chapter II, Detached Narratives Paragraph 4

from Winnsborourgh > from Winnsborough
Chapter III Paragraph 4 ^^

and and executed the order with great gallantry > and executed the order . . .
Chapter III Paragraph 4 ^^^

As the navigation of the Wateree river was as that time > at that time
Chapter III Paragraph 11 ^^

these were, however soon rallied > these were, however, soon rallied
Chapter III Paragraph 17 ^

they run to their arms and returned. . . . > they ran to their arms
Chapter III Paragraph 22 ^

with forces much impairied by the incessant > with forces much impaired
Chapter III Paragraph 28 ^^

so strongly recommended by Machiavel > by Machiavelli
Chapter III Paragraph 33 ^^

encouraged the garrison for awhile > for a while
Chapter III Paragraph 34 ^^

a new charge, made by Rowdon and Balfour themselves > Rawdon and Balfour
Chapter III Paragraph 41 ^

by some mistaken order be had gone to assist Washington > he had gone
Chapter III Paragraph 46 ^

Thus a most favourabe opportunity > Thus a most favourable opportunity
Chapter III Paragraph 46 ^

would have preplexed the narrative > would have perplexed the narrative
Chapter III Paragraph 53 ^^

with the officers. commanding of thirty-eight men. > officers, commanding
Chapter III, Detached Narratives Paragraph 5 ^^

supernumerary officers, who placed themseves > who placed themselves
Chapter III, Detached Narratives Paragraph 7 ^

an extensive avenue of old ceder trees > old cedar trees
Chapter IV Paragraph 13 ^

with a salary of about 500~l~. > with a salary of about 500 pounds.
(This change has been made only to avoid confusion.) ^^^^^^
Chapter IV Paragraph 20

Final Notes:

The format, but not the content, of quoted letters has been slightly changed
to accommodate the format of the etext.

Footnotes added by myself are always initialed (A. L.),
unless they merely note the chapter and paragraph
corresponding to a page number given in the text.

End of this Etext of Life of Francis Marion, by Judge James

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