Continental Army officer, Southern partisan leader. The Swamp Fox wasn't just a character in the movie "The Patriot". He was a real, flesh and blood all-American soldier.
Born in or about 1732, this American Revolutionary War General earned the name "Swamp Fox" by the way his men hid in the swamps and ambushed the British as they passed, then disappeared back into the swamps before the British knew what hit them.
His real name was Marion Francis. He was born in Berkeley County, South Carolina, and grew up on a farm near Georgetown. His first war experience was fighting the Cherokee Indians as a militia lieutenant in 1761.
He was a member of the South Carolina Provincial Congress and voted in favor of the Revolutionary War. He lead a volunteer army in many battles. A sprained ankle saved him from capture in Charleston, South Carolina just before the city surrendered and he lead more engagements in the northern part of the state thereafter.
After the defeats of General Horatio Gates and General Thomas Sumter, he had the only troops left in South Carolina. Because there were so few of them he organized them into guerilla units. They provided their own food, supplies and horses. Blacksmiths made their swords from saw blades and other metal, and their ammunition was melted pewter plates. Ammunition was so scarce that in some entire battles men shot as few as three shots each.
When Nathanel Greene had succeeded in ousting the British from North Carolina, his lieutenant, Light-Horse Harry Lee, brought reinforcements to Marion, and they took part together in several battles, notably that at Eutaw Springs (Sept. 8, 1781).
The British never discovered his hiding place on Snow Island in the Pee Dee River. He and his men were able to raid British supply depots and rescue captured American prisoners of war. The British tried hard to catch the Swamp Fox, but they never could catch up with him.
Francis spent many years after the war serving on the South Carolina Senate, and died on his plantation at Pond Bluff in 1795. His descendants continued to name male children after him, including Marion or Francis in their names until the 1900s.