Daily readings about people, places, and events in American history.
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September 29th
The Swamp Fox
On the night of September 29, 1780, militia loyal to King George III were camped on Black Mingo Creek in coastal South Carolina when suddenly a Patriot force materialized out of the steamy darkness with guns blazing. The surprised Tories put up a sharp defense but soon fled across the Santee River, leaving behind their supplies and ammunition. Francis Marion had struck again.

One of the heroes of the American Revolution, Marion was a short, quiet man who wore a sword so seldom drawn it rusted in its scabbard. His men knew the secret paths of the low-country swamps, and like phantoms they could appear out of cypress mazes for quick surprise attacks against much larger forces before melting away to the dark recesses of their forest retreats. Most were farmers, fighting without pay. Few had uniforms of any kind. They were always short on guns, ammunition, and food, but they fought with the zeal of true Patriots.

Marion’s guerrilla warfare kept the British in a constant state of confusion and alarm. With grudging respect, the redcoats began to refer to him as the Swamp Fox.

It is said that one day Marion invited a British officer to dinner in his camp under a flag of truce and served a meal of fire-baked potatoes on a slab of bark, with vinegar and water to wash it down. His guest was surprised at how little the Patriots had to eat. “But surely, General,” he inquired, “this can’t be your usual fare?”

“Indeed, sir, it is,” Marion replied, “and we are fortunate on this occasion, entertaining company, to have more than our usual allowance.”

The story goes that the British officer was so overcome by the Americans’ determination and sacrifice that he resigned his commission and sailed back to England.

American History Parade
1780
Patriots under General Francis Marion surprise loyalist forces on Black Mingo Creek, South Carolina.

1892
At Mansfield, Pennsylvania, the first nighttime football game is played when Mansfield Teachers College faces Wyoming Seminary beneath twenty electric lights.

1915
In the first transcontinental demonstration of radiotelephone, speech is transmitted from New York City to Honolulu.

1957
Baseball’s New York Giants play their final game at the Polo Grounds, losing to the Pittsburgh Pirates 9–1, before moving to San Francisco the next season.

2009
The Dow Jones Industrial Average falls 778 points in one day during one of the worst financial crises since the Great Depression.
This content is courtesy of The American Patriot's Almanac
© 2008, 2010 by William J. Bennett and John T.E. Cribb
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