Archaeologist follows Revolutionary War hero Swamp Fox

More than two centuries after Francis Marion ruled the swamps of northeast South Carolina, archaeologist Steve Smith is stalking his every move.

Smith is trying to find sites in the Pee Dee associated with Marion to help create a Francis Marion Trail.

Smith has spent the past several months in the heart of Marion's early campaigns along the Pee Dee, Lynches and Black rivers in Georgetown, Florence, Marion and Williamsburg counties.

The archaeologist is working with the Francis Marion Trail Commission to determine which sites need further work for possible development for the new trail being created to honor the Revolutionary War hero nicknamed the Swamp Fox.

Smith, an archaeologist at the South Carolina Institute of Archaeology, is under contract with the commission to provide an archaeological survey in 10 counties, commission chairman Ben Zeigler said.

Smith has recently been in the Port's Ferry area, where he said he has found several artifacts dating to the late 1700s, including a side plate from a British Brown Bess Musket, buttons, a colonial period horseshoe and a buckle.

"Port's Ferry was an important strategic point along the Pee Dee that Marion crossed several times," Smith said. "It's also where he camped during the early part of his partisan career, generally between August of 1780 and January and February of 1781."

But Smith doesn't just spend all his days in the swamps and the woods. "Steve probably spends as much time in the library as he does in the field," Zeigler said.

Smith also works with local collectors, who help him identify sites and even let him borrow some of their collections of Marion memorabilia to clean and photograph, Zeigler said.

"We'll then return them to the landowners whenever they want them," Zeigler said. "We are very keen to work with private landowners and collectors and have them be a part of this endeavor."

The Legislature organized the trail commission last year. It's goal is to create a heritage trail to honor Marion and his contribution to the Revolutionary War.

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