Gateway to the Classics: American History Stories, Volume II by Mara L. Pratt
American History Stories, Volume II by  Mara L. Pratt


General Francis Marion

The Fox of the Southern Swamp

There was one brave patriot working away in the swampy country in South Carolina. This man was General Marion; and so wise was he, and so brave, and succeeded in stealing such marches upon the enemies in this southern district, that he was called the "fox of the southern swamp." I shall not try to tell you of the successful raids he made, and the successful battles he fought, because battles all sound pretty much alike to little folks, and you might grow tired of hearing of them. If I can tell you some of the stories of those times which will help you to understand the kind of men and women these patriots were, how brave they were, and how much they were willing to suffer for the cause which seemed to them right, I know your teacher will be better satisfied than she would be to hear you repeat like parrots the names and dates of all the battles in our whole history.

This General Marion had a camp in a swamp, among the forests and tangled grasses and mosses—a place so hidden and so hard to enter, that no one cared to attempt an attack upon him. From this place Marion and his men used to march forth to battle. At one time a British officer was brought into this camp to talk with Marion about some prisoners. After they had arranged matters, Marion invited the young officer to dine with him. The officer accepted; but when he was taken to the "mess-room," and saw only a pine log for a table, on which were heaped nothing but baked potatoes, he asked in astonishment,

"Is this all you have for dinner?" "This is all," answered General Marion, "and we thought ourselves fortunate in having more potatoes than usual, when we had a visitor to dine with us."

"You must have good pay to make up for such living," said the officer.

"On the contrary," answered Marion, "I have never received a dollar, nor has one of my men."

"What on earth are you fighting for?"

"For the love of liberty," answered the hero. The story says that the young officer went back to Charleston and resigned his position in the English army, saying he would not fight against men who fought from such motives, and were willing to endure such hardships.

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