The Swamp Fox

Lessons in Leadership from the Partisan Campaigns of Francis Marion
If you are a member, log in to receive member pricing
Published:November 15, 2012
By Scott D. Aiken (Author)

Col. Scott D. As one of the Patriot leaders in the Carolinas, the partisan campaign conducted by Brigadier General Francis Marion and his irregular force during the American Revolution prevented South Carolina from completely succumbing to British control during the period between the capture of Charleston in May 1780 and the start of Major General Nathanael Greene’s campaign to recover the Southern Colonies in December 1780. During substantial segments of this period he alone held eastern South Carolina from the British and became known as “The Swamp Fox” for his exploits and elusiveness in harassing the British with his guerilla tactics.

Upon the arrival of Greene’s Continental Army of the Southern Department, Marion’s forces then reverted in part to an important supporting role in South Carolina for the duration of the war. He later assisted in the establishment of the authority of the State of South Carolina and contributed to its post-conflict termination. If General Marion had not taken action during the American Revolution, there is a good possibility that eastern South Carolina would have succumbed to British intent. That, coupled with the British occupation of Charleston, may have provided the British with the requisite momentum needed to conquer the South. Thankfully, General Marion’s call to action both militarily and politically prevented such momentum from existing.

The multifaceted aspect of the American Revolution serves as an excellent case study for the conflicts of the twenty-first century: joint and combined operations, civil war, insurgency/counterinsurgency, global superpowers, civil-military relations, this conflict’s got it all! Many of Marion’s partisan actions were forerunners of today’s tactics, showing his great innovativeness and foresight as a military leader. His incessant activities diverted British and Loyalist forces, inflicted British and Loyalist casualties, supported operations of the Continental Army during its Southern Campaign, and sustained the American Revolution in South Carolina. He was extremely effective across the range of military operations, from guerilla warfare to storming forts. He was equally inept in what today would be considered information operations and even participating in the linear tactics of the day in pitched battles. Such similarity makes Marion’s partisan campaign worth study by current military and political leaders. Aiken’s portrayal of Brigadier General Marion’s partisan actions describes the forerunners of tactics common of today’s global security environment, tactics used by, and against, United States forces.

List Price: $42.95
Member Price: $34.36
Product Details
  • Subject: Revolutionary War
  • Hardback : 384 pages
  • Publisher: Naval Institute Press (November 15, 2012)
  • ISBN-10: 1612511139
  • ISBN-13: 9781612511139
  • Product Dimensions: 6 X 9 in
  • Shipping Weight: 0 lb
  • “Aiken’s analysis is sharp, benefitting from his own experience in the US Marine Corps…This is a highly unusual analysis, viewing irregular warfare from the perspective of the underdog. It contains many lessons useful to students and practitioners on both sides.” — Warships International Fleet Review
  • "Aiken's scholarly analysis of the partisan tactics is a bonus. The author's military background makes him uniquely qualified to address this important aspect of Marion's soldiering…Each well-constructed sentence is chock full of information and thought provoking analysis. If you have any interest in the colonial period in the south you will want to read this book.” — The Sun News (Myrtle Beach, SC)
  • "Aiken presents a thorough analysis of Marion's successful operations of unconventional warfare, a 'strategy of erosion,' and always fighting outnumbered and outgunned coupled with superiority in mobility, reconnaissance, intelligence, logistics, tactical planning, and execution. Aiken also compares Marion's means to irregular warfare in the 21st century." —Military Officer Magazine
  • “While Aiken’s enthusiasm and knowledge of Marion’s campaigns are evident in his descriptions, his prose is succinct and The Swamp Fox is structured along logical lines and tightly argued....Despite his favourable disposition toward Marion, he scrupulously examines historical accounts, and notes where these appear to be either factually wrong or leading towards the hagiographic, which is particularly relevant when many accounts of the campaign were written by Marion’s subordinates. … What Aiken provides is a systematic evaluation of these campaigns within a modern framework, complete with contemporaneous references. While some of Aiken’s comparisons are a little simplistic or unnecessary, there is much within the book that would prove useful for currently serving military members and those interested in military history and tactics....The Swamp Fox is a sound analytical inquiry, an engaging read and a solid contribution to informed debate.”
    — Australian Defence Force Journal
  • “Scott Aiken’s work on Francis Marion is a brilliantly researched study in character, competence, and military leadership. Aiken combines a historian’s attention to detail with a professional military appreciation for the complexities and ambiguity of irregular warfare to chronicle the battlefield exploits of one of America’s greatest soldiers. Aiken’s insights are timeless and his book deserves the attention of every serving soldier and Marine.” —Col. Douglas Macgregor, USA (Ret.), author of Warrior’s Rage: The Great Tank Battle of 73 Easting
  • “Colonel Aiken shines his considerable experience with irregular warfare on the campaigns of Francis Marion. Using modern Marine Corps and Department of Defense doctrine, he compares Marion’s partisan tactics to operations in Afghanistan and Iraq today. The result will be of interest to both military historians and Francis Marion enthusiasts.”

    —Steven D. Smith, author of Archaeological Perspectives on Partisan Communities: Francis Marion at Snow’s Island in History, Landscape, and Memory
  • “The Swamp Fox shows the actions of guerilla warfare in the South during the American Revolution. Join Colonel Aiken and follow the ‘Swamp Fox’ through eastern South Carolina during the war. Compare the strategy and tactics used by the Patriot forces during the revolution and the wars being fought in the Middle East today.”

    —John O. Thornhill, past president, North Carolina Society, Sons of the American Revolution
  • “The United States has a long history of participation in irregular wars. In The Swamp Fox, Col. Scott Aiken examines the success of Francis Marion's insurgency against British forces in South Carolina during the Revolutionary War, finding a number of lessons that will be useful to students and practitioners of today's counterinsurgency campaigns. Highly recommended for all military historians and counterinsurgents.”

    —John A. Nagl, Non-Resident Senior Fellow at the Center for a New American Security and author of Learning to Eat Soup with a Knife: Counterinsurgency Lessons from Malaya and Vietnam

Col. Scott D. Aiken USMC is a career infantry officern with over twenty-six years of service and is a veteran of irregular warfare. Since September 11, 2001, he has deployed four times in support of the War on Terrorism in various parts of the world, to include Guantanamo Bay Cuba; eastern Africa and Iraq. Colonel Aiken is currently assigned as the Assistant Chief of Staff for Operations, Plans and Training (G-3) with II Marine Expeditionary Force, Camp Lejeune, North Carolina.

More by this Author

The Swamp Fox
Col. Scott D. As one of the Patriot leaders in the Carolinas, the partisan campaign conducted by...Read More

Related Content

None found for this author.

Events and Conferences

None found for this author.

Customer Reviews

Average Customer Reviews


Conferences and Events

View All

From the Press

23 February - Seminar

Sat, 2019-02-23

David F. Winkler

3 March - Lecture

Sun, 2019-03-03

Stephen A. Bourque

Why Become a Member of the U.S. Naval Institute?

As an independent forum for over 140 years, the Naval Institute has been nurturing creative thinkers who responsibly raise their voices on matters relating to national defense.

Become a Member Renew Membership