The End of the War
The governor and council, armed with the supreme power of the state, had impressed the horses, provisions and indigo of the Whigs, for public services, and that proceeding had scarcely excited a murmur. These resources had now failed, and the war was to be carried on without money; then what good reason could be given for exempting from requisition the negroes and other property of the Tories. In this point of view the case against them becomes the strongest of the two. Yet the clamor raised against the law at the time and after, was great; in the legislature their friends became numerous, and as each particular case was brought forward and considered, it was made an exception, and the act became a nullity.
John Matthews was elected governor of the state, after Gen. Gadsden, for whom a majority of votes was first given, had declined serving.
A bill was brought in to indemnify several militia officers who had been concerned in impressing indigo and other property necessary for public service.
Gen. Marion's name was at first inserted on the list, but when it came to be read in the senate, he rose and moved to strike it out; saying, if he had taken the property of any man improperly or unnecessarily, he was willing to make restitution. The bill passed into a law without the general's name.
Before the adjournment, the powers left with the governor and council, were as extensive as usual. Gov. Matthews appears to consider them in a letter to Gen. Leslie, (12th April) as equal to dispensing with parts of the confiscation act. The evacuation of Charleston took place on the 14th of December, 1782, but the militia were not permitted to be witnesses of the ceremony. The civil authority had interposed to exclude them as dangerous spectators, and Gen. Greene in his letter of the 22d of November, was so much hurt at it, that he takes particular pains to exculpate himself from any participation in that order. In this treatment, the militia shared the fate usually attending humble friends, who are seldom caressed by the great any longer than they can be subservient to their views or interests.
Gen. Marion and his brigade were now to part forever. But as its movements had always been directed without pomp or parade, so its discharge was conducted with republican simplicity. In his favorite encampment at Wyboo, and on the side of the cedar trees, he thanked his officers and men for their many and useful services, and bid them a friendly and affectionate farewell.
Two years and a half had now elapsed since Gen. Marion first assumed his command; his appearance was not prepossessing, his manners were distant, but not repulsive, yet few leaders have ever been so popular among their men; none ever had more of their confidence. He had so much influence as to settle amicably many disputes among his officers, and even private men; and never was a duel fought by any of them while under his immediate command. His stratagems appeared intuitive. Did Gen. Marion march in person to the attack? Then the common conclusion was, the enemy is taken by surprise, or we shall fight them on advantageous ground.
The revolutionary war raged no where more than it did where he commanded; in all this he had the head to lead and to plan, and the discernment to choose those who could best execute. His personal bravery was displayed on many occasions, but his own sword struck not the blow, it never was seen stained with blood; cool and collected, he was always the general, never the common soldier. In short the whole bent of his soul was how he should best provide for his men, how he could most annoy the enemy, and how he could soonest achieve the independence of his country.
The characters of his officers will be best collected from the facts stated. In taking such wise measures as have been related for the defense of the lives and property of his friends, Gen. Marion could extend none of them to his own possessions. His plantation in St. John's lay within a mile of the marches and countermarches of the British, and was subject to every species of wanton waste and depredation. One half of his negroes were taken away, and the other half must have been faithful, or they would not have remained. He had ten workers left, but plantation utensils, clothes for his people, household furniture, and stock of cattle and horses, were all to be purchased without a cent of money.5 He expected to receive half pay, but even in this was disappointed. At a session of the legislature shortly after, a garrison was established at fort Johnson, and he was appointed commander, with a salary of about 500 pounds.6 Yet, in despite of his recent and meritorious services, this moderate appointment became a butt at which they who are forever seeking popularity by recommending curtailments in useful and even necessary expenditures, soon leveled their shafts. His spirit could not easily brook such treatment, but his debts made it prudent to submit.
Return to Table of Contents