This original document from the Revolutionary War is the muster roll of the Second South Carolina Regiment on the Continental Establishment, signed by its commander, Lt. Col. Francis Marion (1732-1795), Sullivan’s Island, December 1, 1778. The muster roll is a double-spread folio, measuring approximately 17 x 13 in. This document is the latest in a series of significant gifts donated to the library by an alumnus, James P. Barrow, '62.
It comes from the earlier part of Francis Marion’s war service, before the guerrilla campaigns for which he earned the name the “Swamp Fox.” Francis Marion, a Low Country planter from near Eutaw Springs, SC, had served in the militia against the Cherokees in 1759-1761 and had been elected in 1775 to the first Provincial Congress. His rise to command of the Second South Carolina Regiment had been rapid. He had first been commissioned as a captain in June 1775, when the state established the regiment under Colonel (later General) William Moultrie. He was promoted to major in February 1776 and fought in the Battle of Sullivan’s Island in June that year (the first major defeat for British forces in the Revolutionary War). He was promoted again to lieutenant-colonel (second in command) in the fall of 1776, following the placing of the regiment on the Continental Establishment. Two months before this document, in late September 1778, Marion was appointed to command the regiment, though under a new Continental policy he retained the rank of lieutenant-colonel. Under his leadership, the regiment took part in the unsuccessful Savannah campaign in the fall of 1779. He achieved national recognition after the fall of Charleston in May 1780, when he led a mixed force of local partisans, militia, and Continentals, in attacks on British and Loyalist forces in the Pee Dee region of South Carolina.
The document shows the strength of the Revolutionary forces in South Carolina between the Battle of Sullivan’s Island and the surrender of Charleston. The regimental head-count that Marion reports in this document (277 of all ranks: 22 officers, 5 staff, 22 NCOs, 15 bandsmen, and 213 rank and file) contrasts dramatically with his resources two years later, in his first guerilla campaigns, but even so was less than half the men needed to bring numbers up to full strength (for which another 354 men were needed, nearly all rank-and-file). The muster roll also shows, in the names of the officers, the strength of support for the Revolution at this time among leading South Carolina families. His second-in-command listed in the muster, Major Peter Horry (1743-1815), fought with Marion in the later Pee Dee period, and provided Parson Weems with documents for Weems’s biography of Marion (1809), published under their joint names.