« AnteriorContinuar »
of wind, when the crew took to their boat without water or provisions, it being impracticable to save any of either. A dog jumped into the boat with the crew, and upon his flesh, eaten raw, did the survivers of these unfortunate men subsist for seven or eight days; in which period several died of hunger.
Among the few who escaped was young Marion. After reaching land, Marion relinquished his original plan of life, and engaged in the labours of agriculture. In this occupation he continued until 1759, when he became a soldier, and was appointed a lieutenant in a company of volunteers, raised for an expedition against the Cherokee Indians, commanded by captain William Moultrie, (since general Moultrie.) This expedition was conducted by governor Lyttleton: it was follo ved in a year or two afterwards by another invasion of the Cherokee country by colonel Grant, who served as major-general in our war under sir William Howe.
In this last expedition lieutenant Marion also served, having been promoted to the rank of captain. As soon as the war broke ont between the colonies and the mother country, Marion was called to the command of a company in the first corps raised by the state of South Carolina. He was soon afterwards promoted to a inajority, and served in that rank under colonel Moultrie, in his intrepid defence of fort Moultrie, against the combined attack of sir Henry Clinton and sir H. Parker, on the 2d of June, 1776. He was afterwards placed at the head of a regiment as lieutenant colonel commandant, in which capacity he served during the siege of Charleston; when, having fractured his leg by some accident, he became incapable of military duty, and fortunately for his country, escaped the captivity to which the garri. son was, in the sequel, forced to submit.
Upon the fall of Charleston, many of the lead
ing men of the state of South Carolina sought personal safety, with their adherents, in the adjoining states. Delighted at the present prospect, these faithful and brave citizens hastened back to their country to share in the perils and toils of war.
Among them were Francis Marion and Thomas Sumpter; both colonels in the South Carolina line, and both promoted by governor Rutledge to the rank of brigadier general in the militia of the state. Enthusiastically wedded to the cause of liberty, he deeply deplored the doleful condition of his beloved country. The common weal was his sole object; nothing selfish, nothing mercenary, soiled bis ermin character. Fertile in stratagem, he struck unperceived; and retiring to those hidden retreats, selected by himself, in the morasses of Pedee and Black River, he placed his corps not only out of the reach of his foe, but often out of the discovery of his friends. A rigid disciplinarian, he reduced to practice the justice of his heart; and during the difficult course of warfare, through which he passed, calumny itself never charged him with violating the rights of person, property, or of humanity. Never avoiding danger, he never rashly sought it; and acting for all around him as he did for himself, he risked the lives of his troops only when it was necessary.
Never elated with prosperity, nor depressed by adversity, he preserved an equanimity which won the admiration of his friends, and exacted the respect of his enemies. The country, from Camden to the sea-coast, between the Pedee and Santee rivers, was the theatre of his exertions.
When Charleston fell into the enemy's hands, lieutenant-colonel Marion abandoned his state, and took shelter in North Carolina. The moment he recovered from the fracture of his leg, he engaged in preparing the means of annoying the enemy then in the flood-tide of prosperity. With sixteen men only, he crossed the Santee, and commenced that daring system of warfare which so much annoyed the British army.
Colonel Peter Horry, in his life of general Marion, 'gives the following interesting incident: “About this time we received a flag from the enemy in Georgetown, South Carolina, the object of which was to make some arrangements about the exchange of prisoners. The flag, after the usual ceremony of blindfolding, was conducted into Marion's encampment. Having heard great talk about general Marion, his fancy had naturally enough sketched out for him some stout figure of a warrior, such as O'Hara, or Cornwallis himself, of martial aspect and flaming regimentals. But what was his surprise, when led into Marion's presence, and the bandage taken from his eyes, he beheld, in our hero, a swarthy, smoke-dried little man, with scarcely enough of thread-bare homespun to cover his nakedness! and, instead of tall ranks of gay-tiressed soldiers, a handful of sunburnt, yellow-legged militia-men; some roasting potatoes, and some asleep, with their black firelocks, and powder-horns lying by them on the logs. Having recovered a little from his surprise, he presented his letter to general Marion, who perused it, and soon settled every thing to his satisfaction.
The officer took up his hat to retire.
"Oh no!' said Marion, it is now about our time of dining; and I hope, sir, you will give us the pleasure of your company to dinner.'
At mention of the word dinner, the British officer looked around him, but to his great mortification, could see no sign of a pot, pan, Dutch oven, or any other cooking utensil, that could raise the spirits of a hungry man.
"Well Tom,' said the general to one of his men,. "come, give us our dinner.
The dinner to which he alluded, was no other than a heap of sweet potatoes, that were very snugly roasting under the embers, and which Tom, with his pine stick poker, soon liberated from their ashy confinement; pinching them every now and then with his fingers, especially the big ones, to see whether they were well done or not. Then having cleansed them of the ashes, partly by blowing them with his breath, and partly by brushing them with the sleeve of his old cotton shirt, he piled some of the best on a large piece of bark, and placed them between the British officer and Marion, on the trunk of the fallen pine on which they sat.
'I fear, sir,' said the general, four dinner will not prove so palatable to you as I could wish; but it is the best we have.'
The officer, who was a well bred man, took up one of the potatoes and affected to feed, as if he had found a great dainty; but it was very plain that he ate more from good manners than good appetite.
Presently he broke out into a hearty laugh.-Marion looked surprised. 'I beg pardon, general,' said he, but one cannot, you know, always command one's conceits. I was thinking how droily some of my brother officers would look, if our government were to give them such a bill of fare as
this.' I suppose,' replied Marion, it is not equal to their style of dining?
No, indeed,' quoth the officer, and this, I imagine, is one of your accidental lent dinners: a sort of ben yiin. In general, no doubt, you live a great deal better."
*Rather worse,' answered the general, ‘for often we don't get enough of this.'
Heavers.' rejoined the officer, “But probably what you lose in meal you make up in malt, though stinted in provisions, you draw noble pay.'
Not a cent, sir,' said Marion, not a cent."
'Heavens and earth! then you must be in a bad box. I don't see, general, how you can stand it.?
•Why, sir,' replied Marion, with a smile of selfapprobation, these things depend on feeling.'
The Englishman said, “he did not believe it would be an easy matter to reconcile his feelings to a soldier's life on general Marion's terms: all fighting, no pay, and no provisions, but potatoes.'
Why, sir,' answered the general, the heart is all; and when that is much interested, a man can do any thing. Many a youth would think it hard to indent himself a slave for fourteen years.But let him be over head and ears in love, and with such a beauteous sweetheart as Rachel, and he will think no more of fourteen years servitude than young Jacob did. Well, now this is exactly my case. I am in love; and my sweetheart is LIBERTY. Be that heavenly nymph my champion, and these woods shall have charms beyond London and Paris in slavery. To have no proud monarch driving over me with his guilt coaches; nor his host of excisemen and tax-gatherers, insulting and robbing; but to be my own master, my own prince and sovereign; gloriously preserving my national dignity, and pursuing my true happiness; planting my vineyards, and eating their luscious fruit; sowing my fields, and reaping the golden grain; and seeing millions of brothers all around me, equally free and happy as myself. This, sir, is what I long for.'
The officer replied, that both as a man and a Briton, he must certainly subscribe to this as a happy state of things.
‘Happy,' quoth Marion, “yes, happy indeed; and I would rather fight for such blessings for my country, and feed on roots, than keep aloof though wallowing in all the luxuries of Solomon. For now, sir, I walk the soil that gave me birth, and