MARION, Francis (c.1732-1795), "The Swamp Fox," partisan leader, Revolutionary War. Manuscript document signed ("Frans.Marion Lt. Col. 2nd Regt."), titled at head "A Monthly Return of the Second Regiment of South Carolina Infantry On The Continental Establishment Commanded by Col. Francis Marion at Sullivan's Island, August 1st 1779," neatly ruled into columns and filled in by a clerk. Sullivan's Island [Charleston, S.C.], 1 August 1779. 1 page, oblong folio, 386 x 475mm., paper with deckle edges preserved, an ink blot at extreme right edge, otherwise in excellent condition.
MARION BEFORE SAVANNAH: A RARE MUSTER ROLL FOR THE SWAMP FOX'S SOUTH CAROLINA REGIMENT, TWO MONTHS PRIOR TO THE ATTACK ON SAVANNAH
A rare record of one of the most celebrated American units of the Revolutionary War, commanded by the legendary Swamp Fox, just prior to his gallant leadership of the assault against Savannah. The attractive return of troops is neatly arranged in tabular form, the left-hand column listing "Field & Staff Officers" present for duty (10) and, to the right, the number of officers (commissioned and non-commissioned), and "rank and file;" separate columns are allocated for "drums and fifes" (17 musicians, a surprisingly high number for a unit of this size, are present and fit for duty). At the far right are two columns for deficiencies "wanting to allowance of 55 men per Company" and "alterations since last return." In the lower half of the sheet another row of carefully ruled columns records officers absent, the length of their absence, by whose authority and the reason for their absence, arranged by grade, and the dates of commissions for the high-ranking officers (2nd Lt. and higher). The very detailed record shows that Marion had 209 effectives among 382 on muster, and that 53 were reported sick. Six deaths are listed, without cause. Among the officers not present, several are on detached duty, one with General Moultrie; most, it is noted, are on the orders of General Benjamin Lincoln, another on Marion's.
Marion, named Lt. Col. and commander of the 2nd South Carolina Regiment in July, rapidly moved to weld his local partisans into a well-trained Continental regiment of strong military organization and discipline, as this meticulous return documents. A month later, Marion's unit joined in the bold but unsuccessful French-American attack on British-occupied Savannah. On October 8, in the main assault, Marion's men "spearheaded the attack through heavy frontal and infilade fire...They crossed an open area, swarmed over the ditch, hacked their way through the abatis and planted the Crescent Flag of the 2nd S.C...on the parapet of the redoubt" (Boatner, p,986). Three officers fell trying to support the standard, and after a brave but costly fight, Marion was driven back and the attack was called off.