Francis Marion was born in 1732 at Winyah, a plantation in St. John’s Parish, Berkeley County, S.C., near Georgetown. He gained his first military experience fighting Cherokee Indians in 1759 and 1761, during the French and Indian Wars. Elected to the South Carolina Provincial Congress in 1775, he was soon commissioned captain and helped defend Patriot positions in Charleston Harbor in 1776. Marion participated in the unsuccessful American campaign to take Georgia in 1779. When the British took Charleston in the following year and overran most of the State, Marion was commissioned a brigadier general and distinguished himself in organizing and leading a guerrilla band which soon won fame harassing British units and intimidating Tories. When the perplexed red coats sent their reliable troubleshooter Colonel Tarleton in pursuit of Marion, the crafty American won the sobriquet, “the Swamp Fox,” by slipping through the Carolina marshlands. He subsequently joined General Green and assisted in the skillful series of tactical maneuvers which exhausted the British Army under Cornwallis, ultimately causing him to abandon the Carolinas and head toward his doom at Yorktown.
After peace returned, Marion served in the State senate until retiring from public life in 1790. He died 27 February 1790.
(SlpW: t. 566; lpb. 117'; b. 32'; dr. 15'8.5"; a. 16 guns (1853).)
Marion, a sloop‑of‑war of the fourth rate, was launched at the Boston Navy Yard 24 April 1839. On 10 November 1839, she departed Boston on her first cruise, to Brazil. Sunk when heaved down in the harbor at Rio de Janeiro early in 1842, she was raised and sailed back to Boston, arriving in May. She then set sail for the Caribbean, returning in May 1843. For the next few years she remained in ordinary at Boston and then cruised off the West Coast of Africa and in the Mediterranean until 1848. After a tour in the East Indies, 1850‑52, she resumed operations with the African Squadron, 1853‑55 and 1858‑60. 1856‑57 was spent in ordinary at Norfolk.
In ordinary at Portsmouth, N.H., when the Civil War broke out, Marion recommissioned, 21 June 1861, and on 14 July sailed in search of the Confederate cruiser Jeff Davis. In September, she joined the Gulf Blockading Squadron, participating in the capture of Ship Island on the 16th. She remained on the gulf coast until May 1862, when she was ordered to Boston for repairs. Back in service by 24 July, she sailed south to Annapolis where she was employed as a practice ship for midshipmen until 1870. In 1871, she entered the Portsmouth Navy Yard, decommissioned and was rebuilt as a third rate screw steamer: dp. 1900; l. 216'; b. 37'; dr. 16'6".
Recommissioned 12 January 1876, she cruised on the European and South Atlantic stations until December 1882, when she returned to Portsmouth. In 1885, she was ordered to the Pacific, where she was employed on the Asiatic station until 1890. She then returned to the United States, served briefly in the Bering Sea on duty connected with the seal fisheries, and, in late 1891, resumed operations with the Asiatic Squadron. Assigned to the Pacific station in 1895, she cruised along the west coast of the Americas and amongst the Hawaiian Islands until 11 December 1897, when she decommissioned at Mare Island, Calif. Subsequently transferred to the custody of the State of California, she was employed as a training ship for that State Naval Militia until 1907. On 14 March 1907, she was struck from the Navy list and sold, 24 July, to C. E. Boudrow, San Francisco.
(WSC‑145: dp. 220; l. 125'; b. 23'6"; dr. 9'; s. 10 k.; cpl. 38; a. 1 3"; cl. Active)
The second Coast Guard Marion (WSC‑145)was launched 6 April 1927 by American Brown Boveri Electric Corp., Camden, N.J., and commissioned 23 April 1927.
After patrol out of New London, Conn., Marion wasassigned oceanographic research north to Baffin Bay and Davis Strait, to seek information on currents and characteristics of the northern waters and to find the sources of the icebergs which found their way to the Grand Banks and the North Atlantic steamer lanes. After extensive aleration for cold weather operations, Marion left Boston Navy Yard 11 July 1928, Lt. Comdr. Edward H. Smith, USCG, in command of ship and expedition. This 8,100‑mile cruise established that the majority of icebergs originated in western Greenland, and indicated that the number of icebergs which would reach the Grand Banks could be reasonably predicted.
Marion resumed east coast patrol duty until Executive Order 8929 of 1 November 1941 transferred the Coast Guard to the Navy; she then took up wartime patrol and escort duties out of St. Thomas, Virgin Islands. On 14 October 1943, off Mayaguez, P.R., she rendezvoused with cutter Dow, badly damaged by squalls throughout a passage from Baltimore. When it was necessary to abandon Dow, Marion made a lee and six‑man liferafts ferried Dow’s entire crew of 37 to safety without loss of life.
Marion was returned to the Treasury Department 1 January 1946 and operated as patrol and tender boat out of Norfolk, until decommissioning 15 February 1962. She was sold 8 March 1963 to Robert F. Solomon of Norfolk, Va., and renamed Top Cat.