cover image The Swamp Fox: How Francis Marion Saved the American Revolution

The Swamp Fox: How Francis Marion Saved the American Revolution

John Oller. Da Capo, $26.99 (400p) ISBN 978-0-306-82457-9

Biographer Oller (American Queen) turns his focus to Revolutionary War hero Francis Marion, whose ability to evade superior British forces earned him the nickname of the Swamp Fox. It is Oller’s thesis that Marion’s brilliant military engagements throughout South Carolina diverted British resources sufficiently to allow the Continental Army to consolidate its positions and helped to make possible its crushing 1781 defeat of Cornwallis at Yorktown. Oller follows Marion’s battles and skirmishes in great detail, describing the terrain, the size of the opposition forces, the tactical decisions made by Marion and his British and loyalist foes, and the losses suffered by the combatants. An exploration of the politics within the Continental Army and the role that personal rivalries and prejudices played in the conduct of the war gives the narrative a human quality that enriches the military history. Most interesting is Oller’s focus on the split between the Tory loyalists and Whig revolutionaries. The bitterness between the two colonial factions created a civil war within the context of the revolution that is not generally examined. Oller also comments on Marion’s noteworthy decency and heroic reputation. His account of Marion and the South Carolina battleground gives readers a fresh view of a lesser-known Revolutionary War campaign. [em](Nov.) [/em]