A New Way to Fight is Born

With the southern branch of the Continental Army wiped out, Congress had to start over to build a fighting force in the south. They sought out General Horatio Gates, who won the victory at Saratoga. Gates, with the German officer Baron de Kalb, formed southern troops with a strength of 2,000 men. Once formed, their destination was Camden, South Carolina, where Gates intended to engage with General Cornwallis. On the way to Camden, a raggedy group of about 20 men asked to join them. The leader of the group was called “The Swamp Fox”, and he was able to give Gates and de Kalb valuable information about how to survive in the swamplands.

Gates thought that if he could cut Cornwallis off on the Santee River by destroying as many of the British boats as possible, the British would have no way to communicate with its other forces and Gates could take Camden. The attack was a failure. The Americans were low on supplies and food, and starving men are rarely fit or strong enough to fight well. The Americans were routed, Gates escaped, and the battle at Camden was the place where de Kalb received his 11 fatal wounds. Being defeated for the second time in the south was a demoralizing blow to the American Army. There was not much confidence left on the American side.


“The Swamp Fox”, whose real name was Francis Marion, came across General Cornwallis as Cornwallis led a group of American prisoners toward Charles Town. Marion’s group trounced the British and let the prisoners go free. Marion continued fighting the British from the swamps and was able to cut the British line of supply. “The Swamp Fox” used a method of fighting now called guerrilla fighting, in which small bands of fighters take the enemy by surprise, hit them hard, and then disappear. Both the British Loyalists as well as the Patriots used this method of fighting during the Revolutionary War. This type of vicious and successful fighting is still used today.


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Francis Marion, the “Swamp Fox”