The key figure in this week’s rescued book may be more familiar than most participants in the American Revolution thanks to a little film called The Patriot. Mel Gibson’s character was a mash of at least two generals—Dan Morgan and Francis Marion, both of whom appear in the Landmark title. The antagonist in the book, Col. Tarleton, head of the British cavalry was referred to as Tavington in the movie. So let’s compare and contrast the film with this weeks rescued book…..
The Swamp Fox of the Revolution
Holbrook, Stewart Hall, and Ernest Richardson (illus.) New York: Random House, 1959. 180 pp.
- Marion was a veteran of a campaign against the Cherokees during the French and Indian War and was elected captain of his regiment.
- His headquarters were in the swamps between the Santee and Pee Dee rivers.
- His was the only remaining force standing between Cornwallis and Washington’s armies in the north.
- He did rescue captured American troops being marched away by British forces but instead of just being 1 person (his son in the movie) it was nearly 150 soldiers from Maryland.
- Marion’s troops did attack British supply wagons and steal their food and ammunition for their own use.
- Several buildings on Marion’s planation were burned by the British while he was away, not necessarily his house.
- Marion began to muster neighbors to join the fight upon his return from the vote to raise three regiments of militia in 1775 –at the beginning of the war, not after the siege of Charleston. In fact, he might have been captured at Charleston if he hadn’t left the city to convalesce after breaking his ankle.
- The militia that fired two shots before retreating at the Battle of Cowpens was led by Dan Morgan, not Francis Marion. Mel Gibson’s character was based on both men.
- Francis Marion and his men were not present at the Battle of Yorktown.
- Francis Marion did not have any children at the time of the war. At age 50, he married a spinster cousin.
- Marion was a general, not a colonel.
The real Francis Marion was no Mel Gibson—he had a small, almost frail figure, he limped from the broken ankle, and was very soft spoken. A member of his brigade summed him up as being “part rawhide and part vinegar, wrapped around the biggest heart on the Continent.” Any boy would love reading about his exploits in this book.
My copy of The Swamp Fox of the Revolution is in desperate need of first aid. The day I brought the book home from the Greater St. Louis Book Expo, I set it on the floor and my dog started to eat it! Turns out the glue in old books contains sugar so it smelled like a treat to my otherwise good dog Della. Take my experience as your warning – books belong on shelves when not being read, not the floor.
You can find a list of all my Rescued Books here.