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Swamp Fox

  For Chinese readers, Rommel’s story of “Desert Fox” is well known to every household, while for “Swamp Fox”, not many people know it.
  
  In
  
  July 2000, on the eve of the American Independence Day, the epic blockbuster “Patriot” produced by Hollywood Columbia Pictures was released. The film narrates an American-style “Force to Liangshan” story: the protagonist, Benjamin Martin, is an old soldier who loves his family and has long since bid farewell to his military career. One day, he finds that the brutal British army has seized his home in South Carolina and will take away everything he loves, including his idealistic patriotic son… The development of reality gradually makes this old man who has been away from the battlefield. Soldiers realize that the only option to protect their families and peace is to fight for a free young nation!
  Benjamin Martin is not a fictional character, his prototype is a legendary figure that will go down in the history of the American Revolutionary War. , Francis Marion with the reputation of “The Swamp Fox”!
  
  Background of the Times
  
  Let us look at the North American continent more than 200 years ago. On April 19, 1775, in Lexington near Boston, the American Revolutionary War started The first gun. Since then, the American and British armies have launched a fierce contest in North America. In October 1776, the American military won the victory of Saratoga, which led to the rapid development of the international environment in the direction of the United States. Britain’s old enemies France, Spain, the Netherlands and other countries They have changed their swaying attitudes and joined the anti-British war. The American Revolutionary War has increasingly expanded into an international anti-British war that has spread across Europe, Asia and America. Britain is at a stalemate on the North American battlefield. Trapped in unprecedented isolation.
  In such a situation of internal and external difficulties and a dilemma, Henry Clinton, who became the commander of the British Army in North America in 1778, followed the will of London and decided to implement the policy of defending the north and advancing to the south, “giving up all attempts to launch an offensive in New York” and evacuated from Philadelphia. Implement strategic contraction on the northern front, and take New York as the center to hold firm; at the same time, try to occupy the southern part of the United States known as the “soft belly” before the French reinforcements arrive in North America, so as to make full use of the large number of southern loyalists and their powerful forces , and it is close to the British West Indies, which is conducive to the favorable conditions such as British naval support and confrontation with the French and American coalition forces. Thus, from 1778, the strategic focus of the American Revolutionary War began to shift.
  After conquering Georgia in 1778, Clinton went on an expedition to South Carolina in January 1780, captured Charleston in May, and wiped out all the main forces of the US military in the southern battlefield. America’s biggest defeat. Many in the South began to return to their allegiance to Britain.
  Two weeks later, on May 29, the last organized anti-British force in South Carolina, also at Wexhouse, was defeated by Loyalist forces under the command of Lieutenant Colonel Barnast Tarleton, fighting. Presenting a one-sided situation, the British army only killed 5 people and injured 12 people, while the US military killed 113 people and injured about 150 people. It is said that during the battle, the British army ignored the white flag of the US surrender and wanted to kill and wound the US military, which caused such a tragedy. Therefore, the battle is also known as the “Wexhouse Massacre”.
  Amid the noise of victory, Clinton reported triumphantly that he had “put down the rebellion in South Carolina,” concluded that victory in the southern battlefield had been secured, and returned north to New York, leaving Lord Cornwallis to guard Charleston.
  In August, the Battle of Camden broke out. Cornwallis commanded the British to win more with less, defeating General Gates, the new commander of the US Army in the South. There were only 800 soldiers left of the 3,000 US troops, and all the artillery and baggage were lost. The general Gates, who has been coveting the post of commander-in-chief of the Continental Army, left his troops and ran for his life in a panic, and ran nearly 200 miles in 4 days, which became a laughing stock for a while.
  The British army was aggressive for a while and had the tendency to swallow the entire southern United States. It became almost hopeless to organize resistance to the British army on the southern battlefield.
  
  Guerrilla shows his might
  
  But the extraordinary victory overwhelmed both the British and the Loyalists, leading to the eventual steps taken to end the war. Since the loyalists’ feelings were always relatively strong in the south, as long as the revolutionaries in the south were in power, the torture and suppression of the loyalists might be particularly cruel. The Loyalists also seized the favorable conditions of the British occupation and took violent revenge on the revolutionaries and their property, thus provoking greater resistance. Guerrilla warfare broke out in many parts of South Carolina. Groups of rebel cavalry gathered, attacked the enemy’s outpost, and then rode away using the hard clay and gravel roads, dissipating in the thick forest and trees before the enemy, especially the enemy infantry, could catch up.
  Still reveling in victory, Cornwallis suddenly finds himself in an unexpected foe who is as vexing as Carolina’s mosquito and more deadly than the malaria that prevailed in the British army. He was Colonel Francis Marion, the outstanding leader of the guerrillas. The man who gave Cornwallis such a headache had an angular face, a small stature, a hooked nose, and a pointed chin. He was swift and devastating when he attacked the British.
  Born in Berkeley County, South Carolina, Marion took part in the first war effort as a militia lieutenant in 1761, when he successfully led the war against the Cherokee Indians. After the outbreak of the Revolutionary War, Marion served as the captain of the militia company. In 1776 he participated in the defense of Charleston, repelling the British attack. In May 1780, on the eve of the fall of Charleston, Marion evacuated the city.
  The Continental Army report described the guerrilla leader and his party this way: “A gentleman from South Carolina with few followers. They all wore little leather caps and were in rags.” There were no more than 20 of them, men and boys, white and black, all on horseback. But most of them were very rudimentary, and they looked ridiculous.”
  But it was this small troop that made the British formal. The army pales in comparison. On a hot summer night, Marion led 16 cavalry from the steaming wetlands and attacked a group of British soldiers who were escorting 160 American prisoners. In this short battle, 24 British troops were killed and the captured Americans were released. Soon, Marion and his team disappeared into the night again.
  This is how Marion fights. This approach quickly made the British army bewildered and almost mad. But they didn’t even see the shadow of the slender, little colonel. He was always so elusive, attacking them with great speed and then escaping with great speed.
  Marion was very familiar with this region of slow, sandy rivers and blackwater swamps, where he was born and raised. He was scrawny and haggard, a veteran of the place, nearly fifty years old, but quick-witted and evasive. Like a nocturnal animal in a depression, during the day he is safe in a dark place or at home in a swamp. After the sun went down, when the enemy rested in the camp, Marion led his men to mount a surprise attack on the enemy. At dawn, they had already fled, leaving behind chaos. Whether in winter or summer, the guerrillas slept in the open air, ate voles and sweet potatoes when they were hungry, and drank swamp water when they were thirsty. Due to the scarcity of ammunition, each guerrilla often had no more than three rounds of ammunition in many battles.
  
  No one could catch him
  
  Cornwallis was arguably the best general the British sent to North America throughout the war, and he led an extraordinary force, always a light infantry force, suitable for rapid movement and evacuation. However, in the contest with the guerrillas, the British army was like a lion fighting a rabbit. In response to the scattered resistance in the South, Clinton transferred two British cavalry regiments in North America, the 16th and 17th cavalry, to Cornwallis. The two regiments were combined into “Queen’s Cavalry”, together with cavalry corps in the Loyalist faction and cavalry companies in some British infantry regiments, they launched anti-guerrilla warfare against the revolutionaries in the south.
  The commanders of this team, Colonel Tarleton and Major James Weems, chased Marion almost to the point of madness, and they were eager to get rid of them. They went around collecting reports and rumours about Marion’s sightings, but they never caught him. Marion couldn’t stop the spies from reporting his whereabouts to the enemy, but every time the British arrived at his camp, he was always somewhere else. Once, the British sent cavalry out of the castle to capture him, and when they returned, they found that Marion had attacked the castle and burned it to the ground.
  Marion’s hiding place is set on an island in the Pedy River, and his base camp is built on a high, tree-covered sandstone ridge that runs the length of Snow Island. Behind him were vast swamps and depressions, with wild thorns and sugarcane on their sides, which became a reliable rear for his protection.
  On October 7, 1780, he fought with 1,100 pro-British riflemen under the command of Colonel Patrick Ferguson, along with five militia armed groups in remote areas, including the Carolina “Mountain Man” and the Virginia Militia. As a result, the revolutionaries won a brilliant victory, the Anglophiles were wiped out, and the sharpshooter Colonel Ferguson (the commander-in-chief of the Continental Army, Washington, nearly died under his gun) was also shot by Kentucky snipers. The outcome of the Battle of Wangshan directly prevented Cornwallis’ planned invasion of North Carolina. Historians commented on this as follows: “The impact of this battle is so great that it cannot be overestimated.”

  On New Year’s Eve, 1780, Marion’s troops were revelling in an old country fashion, and their lanky commanders were appointed brigadier generals. Some men of the same rank may command a wider front than Marion, but no brigadier general in history has commanded fewer soldiers.
  Marion could neither read nor write, nor had the formal training required to be a commander. He was promoted step by step from an ordinary soldier to a general on the battlefield. This “swamp fox” skillfully used guerrilla tactics to achieve incredible victories. For him, however, the most difficult thing was to write the report to the higher headquarters with irregular grammar and misspelled words.
  
  Remarkable feats
  
  That winter, General Nathaniel Green, the new commander of the Continental Army in the South, led an army one-third the size of Cornwallis’s troops into the Carolinas. Green avoided a head-on confrontation with the British. He found the local guerrillas and asked them to help him scout and spy on the enemy. However, this American general only believed in regular troops, and did not believe in what the guerrillas could do.
  In the early spring of 1781, the British were once again determined to drive Marion out of the Carolina depression. They were exhausted by the indescribable diminutiveness of the officer. The enemy sent cavalry to search the country, closely following the evasive rebel leader and his party.
  At this point, the “swamp fox” made full use of his cunning tactics. He ambushed British supply convoys, blocked river traffic, burned enemy reserves, and engaged in a series of mini-battles with Colonel John Watson’s British forces along the Sumbut River.
  The guerrillas make up for their lack of strength with speed and strategy. Marion and his cavalry clung to Watson’s infantry. These British soldiers rarely rested during the day and had little time to sleep at night. Wherever Watson turned, he found his road blocked and dangerous, with trees strewn across the narrow causeway, bridges on the British road destroyed, and Colonel Watson’s horse killed by hidden snipers. die.
  By April, a large British army had captured Fort Watson. The fort was built on an old Indian mound near Scott Lake, and Marion surrounded the fort after receiving some reinforcements. The guerrillas had neither artillery nor bunker builders, but they quickly erected a pine tower and opened fire from above to the enemy stronghold below, and finally captured the fortress.
  By this time, General Green had to change his views on Marion and his guerrillas. One day, the “swamp fox” received a letter from General Green in his “deep fox den”.
  ”No one is more entitled to public thanks or universal admiration than you,” Marion was told. “An officer who, when faced with as many disadvantages as you – surrounded by every aspect of an army superior to his own, and pursued by experienced troops, held on to a territory , which is unprecedented.”
  Marion and his squad succeeded in pinning the British in South Carolina, pinning Cornwallis for almost a year — buying time for Washington to regroup American forces for a combined strike , bought time for the French army and navy to cross the ocean to the United States.
  Cornwallis was defeated before he even realized how dangerous he was. “Fox” trapped the hunter. Out of anger and despair, the British general decided to “exit the Carolinas” in the late spring of 1871. Now, Marion can sneer as Cornwallis retreats to Virginia – the path to his final fiasco.
  In August of that year, after Cornwallis occupied Yorktown, Virginia, he fell into a passive situation of isolation and trapping. Washington seized the fighter and marched south with the French army to launch the Battle of Yorktown, which surrounded the British army. Cornwallis failed to break out of the siege and had nowhere to go. He was forced to lead more than 8,000 troops to surrender on October 19, and the American War of Independence achieved a decisive victory.
  After the war, Marion served several terms as a South Carolina senator. In 1795, he died on his own plantation in Pound Bluff.

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