“The Swamp Fox” Provides Insights and Inspiration for Contemporary Activism

South Carolina was in the news recently when Newt Gingriff won the Republican primary.  His victory turned out to be an anomaly, given how his campaign has tanked since then.  It is interesting to note that he won largely by playing  the “Rebel.”  Ironically, one of South Carolina’s most famous rebel sons is Francis Marion (better known as “The Swamp Fox.”)  He was agile and aggressive.  He broke the rules of warfare – using techniques and tips he learned while fighting Native Americans.  In particular, he used the element of surprise to attack the straight-marching redcoats when they least expected it.  He and his men would blend into the natural environment before and after their attacks.

As a youngster, I watched all the Disney episodes, starring a young Leslie Nielsen as the Swamp Fox.  In addition, I  have lived in North Carolina for 25 years – visiting our neighbor’s hot tourist spots – Hilton Head, Myrtle Beach, and Charleston; as well as other spots (e.g., Clemson a couple times.)    South Carolina is a state of contrasts – poor lowland communities leading to world-class beach resorts.  High tech industry competing with Redneck philosophy and racist cultureBattle re-enactments not far from exclusive golf courses.   Anyhow, as one of the premiere colonial settlements, Charleston was also a focal point in the War of Independence.  Today, activists can use the Swamp Fox’s tactics to get their message across, practice civil disobedience, and take things down without hurting peopleClick Below to learn all about one of America’s true heroes – and what his legacy means for our current American Revolution.

America’s First Guerrilla Fighters

Ever elusive, Francis Marion and his men appeared out of the gloom of the swamps to attack the British, only to disappear as quickly as they came. With little equipment and less ammunition, a small band of backwoodsmen carried on a private war with the British redcoats in South Carolina during the American Revolution.  Led by Francis Marion, this group of guerrilla fighters struck fear into the hearts of the British as, time and time again, they ambushed British soldiers and knocked out a string of their forts before disappearing mysteriously into the swamps. Marion’s unorthodox tactics infuriated the British, who were more used to set battles in open ground. The redcoat soldiers became terrified of the unexpected and swift attacks by this little band of irregulars and, demoralized, were eventually driven from the South.

The Swamp Fox by Amy Crawford – Smithsonian.com, July 01, 2007

Elusive and crafty, Francis Marion outwitted British troops during the American Revolution.

In early 1781, Revolutionary War militia leader Francis Marion and his men were camping on Snow’s Island, South Carolina, when a British officer arrived to discuss a prisoner exchange. As one militiaman recalled years later, a breakfast of sweet potatoes was roasting in the fire, and after the negotiations Marion, known as the “Swamp Fox,” invited the British soldier to share breakfast. According to a legend that grew out of the much-repeated anecdote, the British officer was so inspired by the Americans’ resourcefulness and dedication to the cause—despite their lack of adequate provisions, supplies or proper uniforms—that he promptly switched sides and supported American independence.  …

Many of the legends that surround the life and exploits of Brigadier General Francis Marion were introduced by M. L. “Parson” Weems, coauthor of the first Marion biography, The Life of General Francis Marion. “I have endeavored to throw some ideas and facts about Genl. Marion into the garb and dress of a military romance,” Weems wrote in 1807 to Peter Horry, the South Carolina officer on whose memoir the book was based. Weems had also authored an extremely popular biography of George Washington in 1800, and it was he who invented the apocryphal cherry tree story. Marion’s life received similar embellishment.  Fortunately, the real Francis Marion has not been entirely obscured by his legend—historians including William Gilmore Simms and Hugh Rankin have written accurate biographies. Based on the facts alone, “Marion deserves to be remembered as one of the heroes of the War for Independence,” says Busick, who has written the introduction to a new edition of Simms’ The Life of Francis Marion, out in June 2007. …

In Spring of 1780, with the American army in retreat, things looked bad in South Carolina. Marion took command of a militia and had his first military success that August, when he led 50 men in a raid against the British. Hiding in dense foliage, the unit attacked an enemy encampment from behind and rescued 150 American prisoners. Though often outnumbered, Marion’s militia would continue to use guerilla tactics to surprise enemy regiments, with great success. Because the British never knew where Marion was or where he might strike, they had to divide their forces, weakening them. By needling the enemy and inspiring patriotism among the locals, Busick says, Marion “helped make South Carolina an inhospitable place for the British. Marion and his followers played the role of David to the British Goliath.”

In November of 1780, Marion earned the nickname he’s remembered by today. British Lieutenant Colonel Banastre Tarleton, informed of Marion’s whereabouts by an escaped prisoner, chased the American militia for seven hours, covering some 26 miles. Marion escaped into a swamp, and Tarleton gave up, cursing, “As for this damned old fox, the Devil himself could not catch him.” The story got around, and soon the locals—who loathed the British occupation—were cheering the Swamp Fox. …

Francis Marion never commanded a large army or led a major battle. Histories of the Revolutionary War tend to focus on George Washington and his straightforward campaigns in the North, rather than small skirmishes in the South. Nevertheless, the Swamp Fox is one of the war’s most enduring characters. “His reputation is certainly well deserved,” says Busick. Though things looked bad for the Americans after Charleston fell, Marion’s cunning, resourcefulness and determination helped keep the cause of American independence alive in the South.

Who was the Swamp Fox? by Cristen Conger

When the state-controlled South Carolina militia began to mobilize against British forces prior to the capture of Charleston, some of the fighters had already whetted their swords during the Seven Years’ War (also known as the French and Indian War). That war pitted the French and British forces against each other in a duel over North American ownership. In South Carolina, colonists fought and killed Cherokee Indians who had initially united with the British.

One such colonist was a young farmer named Francis Marion, who joined the South Carolina militia to fight at the age of 25.  Like George Washington, the military experience Marion gained in the Seven Years’ War would pave the way for his battlefield leadership during the Revolutionary War. In fact, Marion’s earliest biographer referred to him as the “Washington of the South. “

South Carolina is divided into three major regions: up country, midlands and low country. The low country runs along the coastline and gives way to vast swamps along the Pee Dee River in the northeastern pocket of the state. As an adult, Marion purchased a plantation in the low country, and his intimate knowledge of the region’s cypress-lined waterways and marshy paths would eventually lead him to victory over the British forces in the Revolutionary War. …

Marion’s brigade possessed two distinct advantages over the British soldiers. First, the men could easily navigate the dense terrain. Second, their combat style was completely foreign to the opposition. When fighting against the Cherokee Indians during the Seven Years’ War, Marion observed the tribal warriors’ unique style of warfare. Rather than open-air conflict, the Cherokee hid in the foliage, allowing them to launch sneak attacks.

In only a few months after the Charleston overthrow, Marion and his militia brigade applied that guerilla hit-and-run combat method to catch the British off guard. In August 1780, Marion’s men attacked a British troop and freed 150 American prisoners they were transporting.  A month later, the militia ambushed a band of British loyalists in Blue Savannah, S.C. Military exploits like these, set against the swampy backdrop of the South Carolina lowlands, would soon earn Marion his nom de guerre.

By November 1780, Francis Marion was a wanted man. He and his militia won a string of small skirmishes in the South Carolina low country, thanks to their surprise raids. Stationed around Snow Island, deep in the swamplands, the terrain insulated the men from British aggression. As the story goes, when British Lieut. Col. Banastre Tarleton attempted to root out Marion and his militia from the low country, he got more than he bargained for. Follow a 26-mile (42-kilometer) chase through the swamp, Tarleton gave up in defeat. Baffled by the wily U.S. officer, Tarleton referred to Marion’s nimble flight through the precarious terrain as that of a swamp fox. The following month, Marion received a promotion to brigadier general.

Under the leadership of Francis “Swamp Fox” Marion, the ragtag brigade comprised mostly farmers who made a significant impact on the war. Losing crucial ground in the South further forced the British to relinquish their control over the colonies. Contemporary biographies of Marion, cobbled from scant written records and oral reports, painted him as a hero cut from star-spangled cloth. Mason Locke Weems, who penned Marion’s first biography in 1852, described the Swamp Fox as “lovely in mercy.”   Eight years later, biographer William Gilmore Simms conceded that Marion’s adoration sprang from word-of-mouth testaments of his character rather than discernible fact. Yet, no other Revolutionary War figure has had more places named in honor of him aside from George Washington (listed below.)

ADDITIONAL BIOGRAPHICAL INSIGHTS FROM WIKIPEDIA

Francis Marion (c. 1732 – February 27, 1795) was a military officer who served in the American Revolutionary War. Acting with Continental Army and South Carolina militia commissions, he was a persistent adversary of the British in their occupation of South Carolina in 1780 and 1781, even after the Continental Army was driven out of the state in the Battle of Camden.  Due to his irregular methods of warfare, he is considered one of the fathers of modern guerrilla warfare, and is credited in the lineage of the United States Army Rangers. He is known as the Swamp Fox. …

Marion showed himself to be a singularly able leader of irregular militiamen. Unlike the Continental troops, Marion’s Men, as they were known, served without pay, supplied their own horses, arms and often their food.  Marion rarely committed his men to frontal warfare, but repeatedly surprised larger bodies of Loyalists or British regulars with quick surprise attacks and equally quick withdrawal from the field. After the surrender of Charleston, the British garrisoned South Carolina with help from local Tories, except for Williamsburg (the present Pee Dee), which they were never able to hold. The British made one attempt to garrison Williamsburg at Willtown, but were driven out by Marion at the Battle of Black Mingo.

The British especially hated Marion and made repeated efforts to neutralize his force, but Marion’s intelligence gathering was excellent and that of the British was poor, due to the overwhelming Patriot loyalty of the populace in the Williamsburg area.  Colonel Banastre Tarleton was sent to capture or kill Marion in November 1780; he despaired of finding the “old swamp fox”, who had eluded him by travelling along swamp paths. It was Tarleton who gave Marion his “Nom de Guerre.”  Once Marion had shown his ability at guerrilla warfare, making himself a serious nuisance to the British, Gov. John Rutledge (in exile in North Carolina) commissioned him a brigadier general of state troops.

Marion returned to his plantation to find it had been burnt during the fighting. His slaves had run away to fight for the British and had later been evacuated from Charleston. He had to borrow money to restock his plantation with slaves.  After the war, Marion married his cousin, Mary Esther Videau.  His nephew Theodore had hinted to his uncle that it was time to get married. His relatives and friends informed him that Mary always listened with glowing cheeks and sparkling eyes when anyone began reciting the exploits of the Swamp Fox. Marion was in love earlier with Mary Esther Simons but she refused his proposal and married Jack Holmes.

Marion served several terms in the South Carolina State Senate. In 1784, in recognition of his services, he was made commander of Fort Johnson, South Carolina, practically a courtesy title with a salary of $500 per year. He was originally supposed to receive 500 English pounds a year, but economy-frightened politicians reduced his payment to 500 Continental dollars.   He died on his estate in 1795, at the age of 63.

Finding a Role Model – Who is Francis Marion? October 3, 2010

To understand why someone admires another, it is important to know more about the subject. It is very hard to understand any piece of writing about a person, if you don’t know anything about the person themselves. This post will explain who Francis Marion is by giving a short biography about his life. Though it may not seem the most interesting, as many fundamentals may be, it is important to learn this so that any further references may not be confusing. …

Marion was a member of the South Carolina Provincial Congress, and was appointed by the congress to serve as Captain of the 2nd South Carolina Regiment under his old friend, William Moultrie. After fighting in skirmishes fir two years, Marion was appointed Commander of the South Carolina 2nd regiment.  In 1780, British reclaimed Charleston, which since 1775 had been claimed by the colonial army under Marion’s command. Marion, luckily, had hurt his ankle during this time and was able to escape capture by British soldiers.

The colonial army was ordered to retreat after the recapture of Charleston. Marion, along with a few other soldiers decided to stay. He then organized a small force of men to train in guerilla warfare. (Guerilla Warfare is unexpected attacks by a military group that is trying to change the government.) Living off the men, with few supplies, Marion led his men in many attacks against the British. These attacks would be quick and hard with Marion’s men swiftly retreating into the swamps afterwards. It was these tactics that gained him the nickname, The Swamp Fox.  As the war came to an end, Marion joined forces with General Nathanael Greene and together they forced General Cornwallis’s retreat from South Carolina. (General Cornwallis was one of the main British General’s in the Revolutionary War) By the end of the war, Marion, who had started out as a lieutenant Colonel, had achieved the rank of General.

Awesome Stories:  Francis Marion, “Swamp Fox”

Francis Marion, known as “The Swamp Fox,” was born at his family’s South Carolina plantation in Berkeley County.  A man of his time, he owned slaves and fought in the French and Indian War.   While fighting against the Cherokee, he saw those Native Americans using landscape as a kind of weapon.  After concealing themselves in the backwoods, they launched crushing ambushes.  During America’s war of independence, Marion used those same tactics against the British Army.  As a result, some historians call Marion the father of guerilla warfare.

After the fall of Charleston, in 1780, the war’s outcome looked bleak for America.  Remembering what he had learned from the Cherokee, Marion led a group of fifty militiamen in a raid against the Redcoats.  Emerging from their hiding place, in dense foliage, Marion’s men attacked the enemy and rescued American prisoners.  Marion led more such raids, employing similar tactics.  Soon he and his men were causing the British to divide their forces since they never knew where Marion was – or when he would strike.

In November, of 1780, an escaped prisoner told Lt. Colonel Banastre Tarleton where Marion and his men were located.  For seven hours, the British leader and his troops had their sights on Marion, covering twenty-six miles in the hunt.  Tarleton, giving up after Marion disappeared in a swampy area, complained:  “As for this damned old fox, the Devil himself could not catch him.”  Thus was born Marion’s nickname, “The Swamp Fox.”

Although he never led a large force, or commanded troops in a major battle, Marion’s daring and determined efforts kept hope alive in the South.  After the war, when he was fifty-four years old, he married his cousin, Mary Esther Videau.  She was forty-nine.   Serving in the South Carolina Assembly, Francis helped to write the state’s constitution and favored amnesty for Americans who remained loyal to Britain during the war.  He died at his plantation on the 27th of February, 1795.

Marion owned slaves.  One of them was Oscar Marion. Oscar was honored, in December of 2006, when America’s president signed a proclamation recognizing the man whom Marion’s biographers call “the faithful servant, Oscar.”  Because Oscar, who was Marion’s personal servant, would have fought alongside the Swamp Fox, President Bush publicly expressed thanks on behalf of a “grateful nation” for Oscar’s “service … in the Armed Forces of the United States.”

Charleston and the American Revolution, 1776-1785: The Swamp Fox By: Premiere Charleston, 10/23/2010

From 1781-1782, Charles Towne was under siege by British forces. It was the second time the British had attacked the city, as their first attempt had failed miserably several years before. Charles Towne was the capitol of South Carolina and the center of commerce for the state, and represented a vital point of control for England. In fact, it’s likely the British would have been able to consolidate control in the South if Francis Marion had not sprained his ankle.

Francis Marion, born in 1732, was a South Carolina native of Huguenot descent, and fluent in French. As a young man, he voyaged by sea through the Caribbean, and upon his return home, he enlisted under Captain John Postell. He fought in the French Indian War, driving Cherokee Indians away from the border, although he would later regret taking part in much of the campaign, commenting that at times he “could scarcely refrain from tears.” …

Shortly before the Siege of Charleston began, Francis Marion was invited to a dinner party in what is presently identified as 106 Tradd Street, or the “house next to Roupell’s.” As the story goes, the host locked the doors so that his guests couldn’t leave until they had some of his choice Madeira. Marion, who is said to have been a teetotaler, jumped from an open window and sprained his ankle. He was advised to spend some time at his plantation in the hills of Santee to recuperate, and thus was not in Charles Towne when it was taken by the British.

As it turned out, Marion and his militiamen (or, as they were commonly referred to, Marion’s men) would be vital in keeping the British from taking the entire state. Marion’s men were an unconventional assortment of civilians, both black and white, who were unpaid and largely provided their own supplies, horses, and even food. What really made them unconventional;  however, were their battle tactics.

Rather than fighting in the traditional way, Marion’s men used guerrilla warfare, surprising large troops of British soldiers and using game trails and hideouts in the South Carolina swamp to evade pursuers. The British were confounded by Marion and were continually overtaken by his men in the Williamsburg area. Colonel Banastre Tarleton of England was charged with finding and killing Francis Marion, and is credited with giving him his famous nickname Swamp Fox when he said, “Come, my boys! Let us go back, and we will find the gamecock (Thomas Sumter). But as for this damned old fox, the devil himself could not catch him.”

Indeed the Swamp Fox never was caught, and because of his militia, the British were never able to take Williamsburg and never able to consolidate their position in the Low Country.

WALT DISNEY PRODUCED TELEVISION SERIES

Leslie Nielson in Disney’s Swamp Fox  by Steve Burns

In the 1950s and 1960s, the Disney television show often featured serialized stories of great Americans. People who had helped to shape the nation during its early days. Or perhaps people who had overcome some adversity. One such American was General Francis Marion.

Francis Marion, better known as the Swamp Fox, helped to turn the tide of the Revolutionary War. His unconventional fighting tactics included hiding in the Carolina swamps and attacking the British as they marched in formation. Because of this, his opponents accused him of abandoning the gentlemanly ways of fighting, which consisted of meeting your enemy face to face. Because Marion and his men knew the swamps so well, the British never could find him or anticipate his attacks.

Disney’s version kept the main points of history, although perhaps presenting a somewhat sanitized view of things. The British were under the command of General Cornwallis and Colonel Tarleton. Also serving as villains were the Tories, those colonists who were still loyal to British rule. Marion was helped in his fight by his fiancee, Mary Videau, and her parents. The Videau family posed as Tories and then passed information along to Marion and his men.

Leslie Nielsen starred as General Marion, long before Nielsen’s days as Frank Drebin in the Police Squad television show and the Naked Gun movies. The series also featured such Disney regulars as J. Pat O’Malley and Slim Pickens. Hal Stalmaster, from Disney’s movie of Johnny Tremain appeared in the series, as did Tim Considine, who had previously appeared as Spin on in the Spin and Marty serials on the Mickey Mouse Club and later appeared as Mike Douglas in My Three Sons.

Disney obviously had high hopes of the Swamp Fox achieving the same popularity as Davy Crockett. Here was another great American hero who had practically reached folk hero status. Each episode featured action and intrigue. Marion wore a fox tail on his hat, and his men wore feathers on theirs. And he even had a catchy theme song, with words by Lew Foster and music by Buddy Baker. But for whatever reason, the Swamp Fox didn’t quite catch on as the King of the Wild Frontier did. Eight episodes aired between 1959 and 1961. A single version of the theme song was released with Leslie Nielsen providing vocals, but that song didn’t climb the charts like the Ballad of Davy Crocket did.

Even though the show may not have been as popular as its predecessor, it was still fun to watch and made for great television. The Swamp Fox found a whole new set of fans when the episodes were aired on the Disney Channel in the 1980s and 1990s. Now that the Disney Channel has dropped its Vault Disney programming block, the Swamp Fox is no longer seen. But perhaps this Revolutionary War hero is hiding somewhere, just waiting to make another appearance!

THE SWAMP FOX SONG

During the TV program, Marion’s men were fond of singing the Swamp Fox Theme. They sang it at their camp fires and they sang as they rode their horses down a road. Now with all that shouting and praising their leader, I’m surprised the British didn’t hear them coming.

CLICK HERE to Listen to “The Swamp Fox Song”

SPOKEN: My name is Francis Marion. I fought the British redcoats in ’76.  Hiding in the Carolina swamps by day & surprising them with swift strikes at night.  They called me a tricky swamp fox, so a swamp fox I became.

CHORUS
Swamp Fox, Swamp Fox
Tail on his hat. Nobody knows Where the Swamp Fox at.
Swamp Fox, Swamp Fox
Hiding in the glen. He runs away to fight again.

I fire a gun, the birds take wing.
Their startled cry’s a signal clear.
My men march forth to fight the King.
And leave behind their loved ones dear.

REPEAT CHORUS

We had no lead, we had no powder.
Always fought with an empty gun.
Only made us shout the louder.
We are the men of Marion.

We had no cornpone, had no honey,
All we had was continental money.
Couldn’t buy nothing worth beans in a pot
Roastin’ ears & possum was all we ever got.

REPEAT CHORUS

We had no blankets, had no beds.
Had no roof above our heads.
We get no shelter when it rains.
All we got was Yankee brains.

The Redcoats rise in a foreign land
Their hearts are far across the sea,
They never try to understand
We fight for home & liberty.

REPEAT CHORUS

Swamp Fox Episodes by Walt Disney (1959-1961)

The Birth of the Swamp Fox – October 23, 1959

The TV series Walt Disney Presents airs episode 129 – “The Birth of the Swamp Fox,” the first of an 8-part mini-series starring Leslie Nielsen. It is based on a real-life colonial soldier named Francis Marion, who was considered one of the fathers of modern guerrilla warfare. The show’s theme song is sung by Nielsen as well.

Brother against Brother – October 30, 1959

The TV series Walt Disney Presents airs “Swamp Fox: Brother Against Brother.” It is the second episode of an 8-part mini-series starring Leslie Nielsen as a real-life American Revolutionary War hero named Francis Marion. Due to his irregular methods of warfare,  Marion is considered one of the fathers of modern guerrilla warfare.

Tory Vengeance – January 1, 1960

The TV series Walt Disney Presents airs the episode “Swamp Fox: Tory Vengeance,” starring Leslie Nielson as Revolutionary War hero Francis Marion (a.ka. Swamp Fox). It is the third installment of an 8-part mini-series also featuring Tim Considine as Marion’s nephew Gabe Marion and Slim Pickens as Plunkett, one of the Swamp Fox’s men. In this episode, Marion must pretend to despise his sweetheart, Mary Videaux (played by Barbara Eiler), lest anyone suspects she is really one of Francis’ most valuable allies against the Redcoats!

Day of Reckoning – January 8, 1960

The TV series Walt Disney Presents airs the episode “Swamp Fox: Day of Reckoning,” starring Leslie Nielsen as Brigadier General Francis Marion (a.ka. “The Swamp Fox”). The fourth episode of an eight-part miniseries, Marion feels responsible when his nephew Gabe (played by Tim Considine) is killed by the Tories (those who remained loyal to the British Crown). Letting revenge outweigh his duty to his men, Marion personally sets out to kill Gabe’s murderer, Amos Briggs (portrayed by John Anderson).

Redcoat Strategy – January 15, 1960

The TV series Walt Disney Presents airs the episode “Swamp Fox: Redcoat Strategy.” In this fifth episode of an eight-part miniseries, the guerilla forces under the leadership of Francis Marion (portrayed by Leslie Nielsen) have succeeded in capturing British officer Colonel Townes (Henry Daniell). Unfortunately, Marion’s longtime enemy Colonel Tarleton(John Sutton) has, at the same time, seized the home of Marion’s brother Gabriel (John Sutton). As Marion prepares to escort Towne and his wife to Continental Headquarters, Tarleton lays a carefully planned trap for the elusive “Swamp Fox”, using Redcoats disguised as American patriots!

A Case of Treason – January 22, 1960

The TV series Walt Disney Presents airs “Swamp Fox: A Case of Treason,” the sixth episode of an 8-part miniseries starring actor Leslie Nielsen as real-life Commander Franics Marion. A leader in South Carolina during the American Revolutionary War, Marion was nicknamed “The Swamp Fox” by the British for disrupting their plans with his outstanding guerilla warfare tactics. In this episode, Marion has again succeeded in thwarting the plans of Redcoat officer Col. Tarleton (John Sutton). Escaping from Marion’s men, Tarleton takes refuge in the home of Mary Videaux (Barbara Eiler), whom he believes is a British loyalist. But when Tarleton sees Mary kissing Marion during a secret rendezvous, he puts two and two together and realizes that Mary is working for the Continentals!

A Woman’s Courage – January 8, 1961

Walt Disney Presents airs “Swamp Fox: A Woman’s Courage,” the seventh episode of an 8-part mini-series starring Leslie Nielsen. Revolutionary War hero Francis Marion (Nielsen) has rescued his sweetheart Mary Videaux (played by Barbara Eiler) from the British. In their efforts to escape the British-held port of Charleston, Marion and his band of guerrillas must first find themselves a sailing vessel. Mary works out a clever scheme whereby she convinces the captain of a British prison ship that she is a loyalist and that she hopes to throw Marion’s men in irons!

Horses for Greene – January 15, 1961

Walt Disney Presents airs “Swamp Fox: Horses for Greene,” the 8th and final episode of a miniseries about real-life American Revolutionary hero Francis Marion. Marion (Leslie Nielsen) and his fellow guerrillas have placed themselves under the command of Continental Army officer Captain Richardson (James Seay). Intending to instill some discipline into Marion’s ragtag group, Richardson soon finds that he is fighting a losing battle. But all worries about “following the book” are set aside when Marion is ordered by General Greene to capture some horses from the Tories (British loyalists).

CAST OF THE SWAMP FOX – ABC – Drama – 60 Minutes

Leslie Nielsen starred as Francis Marion, an early American guerrilla fighter who battled and befuddled the British in South Carolina.  Other cast members in this revolutionary tale included:

The Officers:

  • Robert Douglas as General Cornwallis
  • John Sutton as Colonel Banastre Tarleton
  • Myron Healey as Major Peter Horry
  • Henry Daniel as Colonel Townes, Tory Leader
  • Sean McClory as Captain Myles
  • James Seay as Captain Richardson
  • Patrick Macnee as a British Captain
  • George N. Neise as Lt. Peters
  • Richard Lupino as Lieutenant Wilkes
  • Richard Erdman as Sergeant Jasper.
  • John Alderson as Sergeant McDonald

The Ladies:

  • Mary Field as Cathy Marion
  • Joy Page/Barbara Eiler as Mary Videau
  • Eleanor Audley as Mrs. Videau
  • Dorothy Green as Mrs. Townes
  • Sherry Jackson as Melanie Culpin t.
  • Louise Beavers as Delia

The Rest:

  • Tim Considine as Gabe Marion
  • Slim Pickens as Ewald Plunkett
  • Dick Foran as Gabriel Marion
  • Smoki Whitfield as Oscar
  • Chuck Roberson as American Soldier
  • J. Pat O’Malley as British Sentry
  • Chuck Roberson as Jenkins
  • Parley Baer as Kusak as Storekeeper
  • Robert Foulk as Rebel Arsonist Leader
  • Denver Pyle/James Anderson as Amos Briggs

  • J. Pat O’Malley as O’Reilly
  • Rhys Williams as Professor Culpin
  • James Anderson as Amos Briggs
  • Clarence Muse as Joseph
  • Hal Stalmaster as Gwynn
  • Alan Caillou as Ken Anakin
  • Robin Hughes as Hitchcock
  • Donald Randolph as Mr. Videau
  • Charlie Briggs as Folger Selby
  • Arthur Hunnicutt as Ezra Selby

“SWAMP FOX” TRIVIA

This Revolutionary War adventure was aired as part of the “Frontierland” banner on the DISNEYLAND (a.k.a., WALT DISNEY PRESENTS).

The series encompassed eight episodes, running as part of The Wonderful World of Color. Episodes were presented on Sundays on ABC from 6:30-7:30 p.m. and were also broadcast by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation.

Nielsen revealed that, during its initial broadcast, The Swamp Fox was condemned by the Canadian House of Commons for portraying United Empire Loyalists as villains during the American Revolution. Nielsen pointed out the irony that he, a Canadian, starred in the only Disney production banned in Canada.

The Disney Channel reran Swamp Fox episodes in the 1980s and 1990s, while Nielsen was at the height of a second career as a white-haired comedy movie star.

The first three episodes of the series were also released in 2005 on DVD (in a set including three episodes of The Nine Lives of Elfego Baca).

The series was based on the book “Swamp Fox” by Robert Bass.

Francis Marion was one of the influences for the main character in the 2000 movie The Patriot, which according to exaggerated the Swamp Fox legend for a whole new generation.  The contrast between film’s depiction of Martin as a family man and hero who single-handedly defeats countless hostile Brits and the real-life Marion was one of the “egregious oversights” that TIME magazine cited when listing “The Patriot” as number one of its “Top 10 historically misleading films” in 2011.

Ironically, the actual Francis Marion typically rode into battle with a regimental helmet and a Continental Army uniform rather than a tri-cornered hat.

In his later acting career, Leslie Nielsen would drop his dramatic persona for that of the comic cop Frank Drebin in the POLICE SQUAD television show and the Naked Gun movies.

Joy Page, the first of two actresses to play the role of Marion’s love interest Mary Videau, was the step-daughter of Jack L. Warner.

PRIMARY SOURCE OF INFORMATION

“The Life of General Francis Marion, a Celebrated Partisan Officer, in the Revolutionary War, against the British and Tories in South Carolina and Georgia” by Brig. Gen. P. Horry, of Marion’s Brigade, and M. L. Weems, formerly rector of Mount Vernon Parish. (1805)

CLICK HERE:  The full text version of this classic book is free on-line.

The public memory of Francis Marion has been shaped in large part by the first biography about him, “The Life of General Francis Marion” written by M. L. Weems (also known as Parson Weems.) This book is based on the memoirs of South Carolina officer Peter Horry.  The New York Times has described Weems as one of the “early hagiographers” of American literature “who elevated the Swamp Fox, Francis Marion, into the American pantheon.”   Mason Locke Weems was an American author & Anglican priest. (1759-1825.)

NAMESAKES, LANDMARKS AND MORE

The Francis Marion National Forest near Charleston, South Carolina, is named after Marion, as is the historic Francis Marion Hotel in downtown Charleston. Across the street from the hotel, the Marion Square contains a statue of Francis Marion upon a pedestal. Numerous other locations across the country are named after Marion. The city of Marion, Iowa, is named after Francis, where an annual Swamp Fox Festival and parade are held each summer. Marion County, South Carolina and its county seat, the City of Marion, are named for Marion. The city features a statue of General Marion in the town square, and has a museum which includes many artifacts related to Francis Marion; the Marion High School mascot is the Swamp Fox. Francis Marion University is located nearby in Florence County, South Carolina.

In Washington, D.C., Marion Park is one the four “major” or large parks in the Capitol Hill Parks constellation. The park is bounded by 4th & 6th Streets and at the intersection of E Street and South Carolina Avenue in southeast Washington, D.C.

The municipalities of Marion in Alabama, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Mississippi, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, and Virginia are named for Francis Marion. Marion County, Indiana (of which the city of Indianapolis is a part), is named for the general, as are Marion Counties in Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Iowa, Illinois, Kansas, Kentucky, Missouri, Mississippi, Ohio, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and West Virginia, and more than 30 townships in 9 states.

The junior military college Marion Military Institute in Marion, Alabama has an organization called Swamp Fox which is attributed to Francis Marion. Marion County, Oregon, is named for Francis Marion and the Marion Berry is named after the county. The South Carolina Air National Guard, located about 12 miles east of Columbia in Eastover, South Carolina, boasts the title “Home of the Swamp Fox” and has an image of the face of a fox painted on the body of their F-16 Fighter Jets.

In 1850, the painter William Tylee Ranny (1813–1857) produced Marion Crossing the Pee Dee, based on events following the battle of Camden in the American Revolution. The picture, displayed at the Amon Carter Museum, depicts Marion standing and talking with a subordinate on the back row of a small boat, Marion being second from the left.[19]

In 2006 the United States House of Representatives approved a monument to Francis Marion, to be built in Washington, D.C. sometime in 2007–08. The bill died in the Senate and was reintroduced in January 2007. The Brigadier General Francis Marion Memorial Act of 2007 passed the House of Representatives in March 2007, and the Senate in April 2008. The bill was packaged into the omnibus Consolidated Natural Resources Act of 2008, which passed both houses and was enacted in May 2008.

Swamp Fox Murals Trail Society in Clarendon County, SC

The Swamp Fox, General Francis Marion and his engagements with the British in 1780-81 in St. Mark’s Parish,  now Clarendon County,  depicting history on Historic murals in Manning, Paxville, Summerton & Turbeville. Every mural tells a story of the events of the American Revolution in South Carolina.

CLICK for Pictures and Locations of the Swamp Fox Murals

Francis Marion Living History Encampment in Clarendon County, SC

GRAVESTONE

Francis Marion is buried at Belle Isle Plantation Cemetery, Berkeley County, South Carolina.  The bronze plaque on his grave stone reads:

Sacred to the Memory of GEN. FRANCIS MARION who departed his life, on the 26th of February, 1795, IN THE SIXTY-THIRD YEAR OF HIS AGE deeply regretted by all his fellow citizens.

HISTORY will record his worth, and rising generations embalm his memory, as one of the most distinguished PATRIOTS AND HEROES OF THE AMERICAN REVOLUTION which elevated his native Country.

To HONOR AND INDEPENDENCE, and secured to her the blessings of LIBERTY AND PEACE.  This tribute of veneration and gratitude is erected in commemoration of the noble and disinterested virtues of the CITIZEN; and the gallant exploits of the SOLDIER; who lived without fear, and died without reproach.

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Categories: Activism - Occupy | Tags: , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

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One thought on ““The Swamp Fox” Provides Insights and Inspiration for Contemporary Activism

  1. pita

    Hari Om! a wealth of info about i man i had never heard of; thanks. I have but skimmed your page; he is quite disitant from my concerns here in oz, but america is so influential globably that further insight into its histories is always welcome.

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