I know I’m about 10 years late to this party, but I finally just saw The Patriot last night. Husband just finished a paper on the American War for Independence and wanted to see one of his favorite movies, so onto the Netflix list it went. I had “seen” when it came out, but honestly, it was in my Contemporary Issues class in high school, and the cheerleading coach was the teacher, my best friend sat right in front of me, I’m a gregarious girl, and there was blood, so well… you figure out how much of it I actually watched.
Since I’m sure most of you have seen the wonderful film staring Mel Gibson, I’ll spare the recap here, but since the inspiration and the setting from the (loosely) historic film came from a Southerner, I thought I’d do a little research on Francis Marion.
A South Carolinian, Francis Marion was instrumental in preventing the British invasion of his state. He was born and raised near Winyah before deciding to become a sailor, inspired by the nearby ports of Georgetown. He was soon fighting in the French and Indian War and later went on to serve as a member of the South Carolina Congress. While recuperating from a broken ankle, he still managed to gather up 20 or more men to oppose the British Army in the state.
Each of his men fought out of patriotism, and at their own expense — supplying horses, uniforms, arms and food. But they were often able to surprise the British when least expected and then withdraw without engaging and therefore limiting injuries sustained. Many times the British tried to capture this nuisance, who they called the “old swamp fox.” Col. Banastre Tarleton of the British army especially hated Marion. Tarleton was the villan to the people — he and his men took supplies from civilians by force, but Marion alluded even the finest of the British.
After the war, Marion married Mary Esther Videau and went on to serve in the South Carolina State Senate. He was made commander of Fort Johnson and died on his estate in 1795.
Francis Marion was one of the fathers of guerrilla warfare, and responsible, in part, for the new United States victory. It’s important to remember that our soldiers, our warriors, our heroes are simply people — people who make mistakes, who have regrets, who don’t always like war. Without making any comments on my personal opinion of war, it is part of our history, and part of reality, and we should honor those who served, especially as we remember the price paid for this Independence we are about to celebrate.
Chances are, your state has a “Marion” named after this great General. Or you can visit a statue of Francis Marion in Marion, South Carolina and many other landmarks around the South and other parts of the country (Marion High School’s mascot is even the “Swamp Fox”). Perhaps a visit to your local monument honoring a hero from America’s past would be the perfect tribute to Independence Day as we approach America’s favorite holiday this weekend.