This story takes place in the swamp areas of the Santee River during the mid to late 1700’s also known as Berkeley County South Carolina. General Francis Marion (Swamp Fox) was born on his family’s plantation in Berkeley County South Carolina this area was also the home of a Tribe of Natives called Santee; growing up in this swampy marsh area a young Francis Marion decades before he would become a General in the Continental Army and the leader of the South Carolina Militia who won a series of battles against the British during the Revolutionary War that took place all over the great state of South Carolina.
It has been recorded and documented that America’s Independence was achieved in the south but declared in the north. Francis Marion was a true scout and a survivalist which he learned on his families Plantation due to the relationship he developed with the Santee Natives. The Natives taught Francis Marion all what he knew about life and survival along the marsh swamp areas of the Santee River. They taught him how to forage the land for root vegetables which he was very fond of; also how to hunt game and fish from the river.
Historical facts have also proven that Francis Marion around the 1750’s was also a Plantation owner which was a home for over 200 slaves. It was said that on this large Plantation there was an abundance of sweet potatoes and cotton; Francis Marion’s land played a major role in economic trade in South Carolina due to the shipping and sales of sweet potato also cotton. The slaves as I was told were very well treated by Francis Marion; in a slave writing I read that Francis was a big fan of roasted sweet potatoes.
In another slave writing it was said that Francis would attend the slave’s dinner feast on occasion which he would bring a wine made from scuppernong grapes that was sent to him by his brother who lived in North Carolina which in another slave writing notes his brother being a winemaker. The slaves would also roast pig, river fish and grouse; to accompany the feast sweet potatoes were roasted and served with sweet dark syrup that we now know as molasses Francis enjoyed this preparation very much.
In another slave writing it was said that Francis would bring bags of peanuts back with him on his frequent trips to Virginia which the slaves love very much they would boil it with sugar and salt pork that was made from pig scraps that they would preserve due to lack of storage in their small living quarters the slaves would eat the peanuts as a snack during their time in working in the fields.
Last but not least Oscar Marion was a slave who served with Francis Marion for several years in the war for America’s independence.
This is an excerpt from the pages of a book written by Eric Spigner, the executive chef of Nova in Oak Cliff, Texas, covering the evolution of South Carolina BBQ during the times of slavery in a small town just less than 15 miles from his Grandmother’s home where he was raised. We will look for more from Spigner in February as we celebrate Black History Month.