GENERAL FRANCIS MARION'S ORDER BOOK,
5812 Temple City Blvd., PMB705
Temple City, California 91780-2112
Transcribed from the microfilmed copies of the original book.
GENERAL FRANCIS MARION'S ORDER BOOK, 1781-1783
Order item B384
Partisan warfare raged over most of South Carolina by 1781 as the British attempted to retain their control over the state following the Americans stunning loss of Charleston with its 5000 man army in May of 1780. This British and Tory victory was short-lived. Patriots, many paroled following the late Charleston debacle, found their paroles were being violated by various British Army Officers, as they, in many instances, plundered and confiscated personal and real properties of paroled South Carolinians. The violation of their paroles served to cause and sometimes force Carolinians to turn to Marion, Sumter, and Pickens for protection and leadership. The three partisan leaders operated in the Coastal, Midlands, and Back Country of the state. By mid-fall, victories resulting from the use of partisan tactics by Whig forces came at such places as King's Mountain, Blackstock's, Hanging Rock, and Musgrove's Mill. The year 1780 came to a close. Thus began a bitter guerrilla war in the regions of the state, as the result of British miscalculations about honoring the many paroles granted to South Carolina soldiers when Charleston capitulated in May, 1780. In many places over the state, the war escalated into conflict between brothers, neighbors, friends, and families.
By early January, 1781, much needed help was on the way. A proven American general, Nathaniel Greene, was steadily moving toward the Southern theater of operations and South Carolina. At least nineteen battles, skirmishes, and other minor actions were fought by Marion's partisan forces at widely separated locations across lower South Carolina from January 14 to April 30, 1781. Most of these actions resulted in victories for the South Carolinian partisans. This caused major disruptions to British supply routes, plans of action, and communications.
Marion may not have been present during two engagements in Georgetown County, De Peyster's Capture and Sandpit Bridge, or in actions at Snow's Island, Witherspoon Ferry, and Cashua Ferry, but it is evident that he orchestrated these actions. Marion, however, was present and in command at the Lower Bridge Battle in Williamsburg District and at the reduction of Fort Watson, which was located near the Santee River.
The year 1781 was a pivotal period in the American Revolution. Many of the decisive military actions occurred in South Carolina. For that reason, a transcription of the Order Book covering General Francis Marion's actions in 1781 provides a glimpse of some historic facts that may be unrecognized in past studies.
Military Order Books include information about special and general orders issued for the day and other specified times, troop dispositions, returns showing personnel strengths, court-martials, and other daily or monthly activities. Marion's first Order Book, one of three, covers June 20, 1775 to August 1, 1777. It contains 555 pages, and is the work of Marion as he recorded events that occurred while he served as Captain, Major, and Lieutenant Colonel of the 2nd. South Carolina Regiment. Two order books, written by Marion and others, cover military activities occurring between 1777 and 1783. Henry Huntington acquired all three of the Order Books between 1915 and 1927. These Order Books now belong to the Huntington Library in San Marino, California. All three of the Order Books are available on microfilm. This mini-edition transcribes a part of the 1781 Order Book (Feb. 16 to Dec. 28). The first Order Book, at some time, was transcribed into a typed copy.
"Out of paper" was a post script added to Francis Marion's letter to General Nathaniel Greene, when Marion was in camp at Lynches Creek near the Pee Dee River, New Years Day, 1781. Marion's being "out of paper" may explain the reason the 1781 Order Book begins on February 16 of the year when so much of the Revolutionary War was fought on South Carolina soil. All of the month of January and the first fifteen days of February are omitted from this Order Book.
The 1781 Order Book kept by Marion, provides details of organization, promotions, movements, supply problems, communications, general orders, tactics used, and battles fought, as Marion began to consolidate his control over much of Eastern and Southern South Carolina.
Principles of selection used in writing this mini-edition involved selecting a primary document that has not been transcribed, and then choosing supplemental primary documents which provide additional explanation to the transcribed text, when used as footnoted comments or as endnotes.
This mini-edition of Francis Marion's 1781 Order Book notes persons, places, and events occurring, as recorded during the interval from February 16 to December 28,1781. Transcriptions covering this time period were selected to provide some assistance to Steve Smith, Archaeologist with the South Carolina Institute of Archaeology and Anthropology, in his archaeological investigation of Marion's campsites located on and near Snow's Island in early 1781. Transcriptions for the 1781 Francis Marion Order Book are unknown to date.
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