The picture above is the famous 1876 Courier & Ives print of White’s painting of The Sweet Potato Dinner. The painting commemorated the meeting between Marion and a British officer to negotiate a prisoner exchange. The meal offered the officer was a sweet potato dinner – that was all they had to eat. General Marion was a hero of the Revolutionary War. His unconventional tactics earned him the name “Swamp Fox.”
General Marion was one of the best fighters in the Revolution. He was a homely little man. He was also a very good man. Another general said, “Marion is good all over.” The American army had been beaten in South Carolina. Marion was sent there to keep the British from taking the whole country. Marion got together a little army. His men had nothing but rough clothes to wear. They had no guns but the old ones they had used to shoot wild ducks and deer with.Marion’s men wanted swords. There were no swords to be had. But Marion sent men to take the long saws out of the saw mills. These were taken to blacksmiths. The blacksmiths cut the saws into pieces. These pieces they hammered out into long, sharp swords.
Marion had not so many men as the British. He had no cannon. He could not build forts. He could not stay long in one place, for fear the British should come with a strong army and take him. He and his men hid in the dark woods. Sometimes he changed his hiding place suddenly. Even his own friends had hard work to find him.
From the dark woods he would come out suddenly. He would attack some party of British soldiers. When the battle was over, he would go back to the woods again. When the British sent a strong army to catch him, he could not be found. But soon he would be fighting the British in some new place. He was always playing hide and seek. The British called him the Swamp Fox. That was because he was so hard to catch. They could not conquer the country until they could catch Marion. And they never could catch the Swamp Fox.
At one time Marion came out of the woods to take a little British fort. This fort was on the top of a high mound. It was one of the mounds built a long time ago by the Indians. Marion put his men all round the fort, so that the men in the fort could not get out to get water. He thought that they would have to give up. But the men in the fort dug a well inside the fort. Then Marion had to think of another plan.
Marion’s men went to the woods and cut down stout poles. They got a great many poles. When night came, they laid a row of poles along-side one another on the ground. Then they laid another row across these. Then they laid another row on top of the last ones, and across the other way again. They laid a great many rows of poles one on top of another. They crossed them this way and that. As Marion’s Tower. The night went on, the pile grew higher. Still they handed poles top of the pile. Before morning came, they had built a kind of tower. It was higher than the Indian mound. As soon as it was light, the men on Marion’s tower began to shoot. The British looked out. They saw a great tower with men on it. The men could shoot down into the fort. The British could not stand it. They had to give up. They were taken prisoners.
SOURCE: Stories of Great Americans for Little Americans By Samuel Eggleston American Book Co 1893 Digitized by Google Available for free download from Google Books
Tomorrow, Another Hero Rita Bay