Francis Marion and the Ebony Chippendale Armchair

Dear Reader:

I can’t help myself-this retired history teacher wants to share a revolutionary tale today about one of South Carolina’s ” Favorite Sons.”

General Francis Marion-better known in history as the ” Swamp Fox” for using hit and run/ guerrilla tactics successfully against the British in South Carolina!

He used Hampton Plantation as a place of refuge when exhausted from skirmishes and battles. At that time Daniel Horry and his wife Harriott ( Pinckney -daughter of Eliza Lucas Pinckney… the ” indigo girl”) all lived at the plantation. They risked their own lives feeding and hiding Marion when he appeared.

After the revolution the house changed hands several times until it came into the Rutledge family.

It would end up being home to little Archie Rutledge ( Archibald Rutledge) South Carolina ‘s first poet laureate. )

He heard many stories as a boy growing up there but the ones with the ” Swamp Fox” fascinated him -especially the tale of Marion and the Chippendale armchair.

Growing up at Hampton there were always mysteries about the house that Archie couldn’t understand. One was a broken armchair near the massive fireplace. The left arm of the chair had fallen off and was kept in a nearby closet.

When Archie asked his father about it… his father explained that at one time Hampton had served as headquarters to Francis Marion. After one of his forays, he fell asleep in that very chair when British commander Tarleton surprised him. Startled he jumped up breaking the arm off the chair.

” Did Tarleton get him” asked Archie?

” Oh no… the Colonel smiled… Marion used the secret passageway that lead to the back of the house, jumped on his horse, swam the river, and escaped into the wilds of the Santee Delta.

After a moment little Archie asked… ” Well dad… that is interesting and all but why haven’t you fixed the arm on the chair?”

“Oh” said his father… ” I always thought it would be ” sacrilegious” to repair what General Marion had broken.”

So until tomorrow…stories passed down from generation to generation are the best history stories!

All my grandchildren have been in Florida over spring break-the Turners at Disney World

And Walsh and Mollie joined her sister and family-enjoying the pool ocean and fishing!! It wasn’t the Old Man and the Sea but two bits and their fish!

” Today is my favorite day” Winnie the Pooh

About Becky Dingle

I was born a Tarheel but ended up a Sandlapper. My grandparents were cotton farmers in Laurens, South Carolina and it was in my grandmother’s house that my love of storytelling began beside an old Franklin stove. When I graduated from Laurens High School, I attended Erskine College (Due West of what?) and would later get my Masters Degree in Education/Social Studies from Charleston Southern. I am presently an adjunct professor/clinical supervisor at CSU and have also taught at the College of Charleston. For 28 years I taught Social Studies through storytelling. My philosophy matched Rudyard Kipling’s quote: “If history were taught in the form of stories, it would never be forgotten.” Today I still spread this message through workshops and presentations throughout the state. The secret of success in teaching social studies is always in the story. I want to keep learning and being surprised by life…it is the greatest teacher. Like Kermit said, “When you’re green you grow, when you’re ripe you rot.”
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6 Responses to Francis Marion and the Ebony Chippendale Armchair

  1. Honey Burrell says:

    Very interesting story! I have great memories of spending Spring Breaks with Pop and La on Clearwater Beach. The girls talk about those special times !Your grand children have definitely started their memory books! Wonderful pictures and I’m a believer that pictures tell your story!😘💕


    • Becky Dingle says:

      That is exactly what I told Walsh when he said they had planned a fishing expedition to take the boys ‘out to sea’ and he hoped they would always remember their first “Old Man and the Sea” experience during their Florida vacation.


  2. Rachel Edwards says:

    Interesting story…you always make histiry come alive…love the pictures…great memories…we had a good time doing our famiky traditions at Easter…


    • Becky Dingle says:

      Isn’t vacations and get-togethers all about building memories for later remembrances forthe children/grandchildren concerning their childhoods and for adults to tuck away for those “rainy days”…remembering bygone times together.


  3. carpoole says:

    Becky, you know how much I loved that story. There was also an underground passage that led from the lower level of the house out to the river that he used on occasion to escape. Abigail asks for stories sometimes. She calls them my funny stories…like when his men cut up their blankets in order to make their horses’ hooves silent crossing a bridge. She is so tall now that she hangs off my lap, but that’s how we roll. Love you!Sent from my Verizon, Samsung Galaxy smartphone


    • Becky Dingle says:

      So nice to hear from my “Swamp Vixen”!!!!! 🙂 I do miss our storytelling days. Your granddaughter is so lucky to have you to keep the stories coming like Archibald Rutledge did for all of us….history stories are most interesting when we connect with them through someone we love. Have a great day!


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