Revolutionary War General Francis Marion and his men had their secret headquarters in the South Carolina swamp country from where they launched sudden and successful raids upon the British. On one occasion, the British wishing to exchange prisoners, sent one of their officers to confer with General Marion under a flag of truce.
As Marion did not wish the British to learn the intricate entrance to his swamp retreat, the British officer was blindfolded and led to Marion’s camp. When the blindfold was removed, the British officer was surprised to find himself not in a tent or dwelling, but in a clearing in the midst of a dense and swampy woods. General Marion stepped forward and politely offered him a seat on a nearby log. When their business was concluded, he cordially invited him to share their dinner. The officer was wondering where the dining room could be when one of Marion’s men approached him, carrying a piece of bark on which there were some sweet potatoes, roasted at the campfire.
Marion helped his guest to a potato and began to eat one himself with apparent gusto. The British officer followed Marion’s example and in the course of “table talk”, learned that this was the daily routine of Marion and his men, and that General Marion served as an officer without any pay or salary. He also observed the good spirits of the soldiers, and upon his return to British headquarters, we are told that he left the service, saying he would have no further share in depriving such brave and courteous men as Marion of the rights due to them.
The artist’s illustration of General Marion’s sweet potato dinner appears on some South Carolina banknotes and on the Confederate Treasury Note T-30.