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American History: October '00 Letters

Originally published by American History magazine. Published Online: August 11, 2000 
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After reading "The Devil Himself Could Not Catch Him," Paul Thomsen's article on Francis Marion (August 2000), I was amused by J.B. Cheaney's sidebar on British Army officer Banastre Tarleton that whitewashed Colonel Tarleton. It stated that he did not burn "civilians in churches," and he "never ran them [women and children] down on horseback." Cheaney even justifies the killing of Americans flying a white flag at the Waxhaws and comments that historians, novelists, and others have exaggerated the sadistic nature of this man. But the crimes Tarleton committed to subdue the "rabble" were vindictive, and were not accepted then or today, even in warfare. His efforts were not efficacious but merely stirred American revolutionaries to doggedly continue the fight for freedom.

Almost all of the people who came to the American colonies were seeking freedom of some sort. Certainly a key to the Swamp Fox story is that General Marion's grandfather, Benjamin Marion, and his family came to America in 1686 from the French seaport town of La Chaume. The dragoons of King Louis XIV who were persecuting the stubborn Huguenot sailors of that town found serious resistance. On arriving in America the French Protestants found continuing persecution under the Church of England, which controlled Charleston. The cities and counties were organized into parishes, and they were required to support the Tories with taxes and without representation. With that heritage, the large clan of Marions (Benjamin had 13 children) became active in revolutionary activities. This important matter was not mentioned by Mr. Thomsen.

I am a descendant of the Marion family, though not the Swamp Fox himself.

Cloyde I. Brown
Fort Worth, Texas


I genuinely appreciated the article on Iwo Jima ("A War in Letters," June 2000). My grandfather served in the 5th Marine Division during that time, and he remembers looking up to the summit of Mount Suribachi and seeing that proud banner of freedom unfurling through the smoke. The men who gave their lives on the beaches of Iwo Jima and all who have ever paid that ultimate cost of freedom were represented by that flag that day.

Kyle Allen
Chattanooga, Tennessee


I found your Iwo Jima article to be very enjoyable. When I had finished reading it, I read James Bradley's new book, Flags of Our Fathers. As you included the famous photograph of the second flag raising, could you do your readers a service by running it again and identifying the six heroes shown in the photograph?

Mike Bell
Buffalo, Minnesota

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