Patriot - 1998 Draft
October 9, 1998
EXT. SOUTH CAROLINA COUNTRYSIDE - DAY
Woodlands. Beautiful. Untamed. Soaring old-growth elms
arch over riverside maples along the shores of the gently
curving, deep-water Santee River.
Upstream, the swamps. Beautiful. Hundreds of BIRDS SING.
Shafts of sunlight pierce the canopy, cutting through the
hanging moss and kudzu, falling onto soft, swaying ferns
covering the high ground.
The water is clear, with fields of floating lily pads,
each with a stark white flower rising from it.
THE FOLLOWING IS BASED ON A
EXT. POND BLUFF - DAY
A farm built between the banks of the river and the deep
green of the swamps. Good, fertile land, hacked out of
The perfectly tended fields are ripe with barley, hops,
alfalfa and tobacco. Two sturdy brothers, NATHAN, 13 and
SAMUEL, 12, work one of the fields, rhythmically swinging
scythes through the barley.
The house, built of native brick, is well-constructed and
well-maintained. There's a barn, a workshop and a forge.
It is a home of substance rather than wealth. On the
front porch, MARGARET, 11, pumps a butter churn while her
brother, WILLIAM, 6, watches.
GABRIEL, 18, strong and handsome, walks out of the woods
with a musket in his hand and a dozen game-birds over his
shoulder. At his side walks THOMAS, 14, also carrying a
INT. WORKSHOP - DAY
A perfect colonial workshop, fastidiously arranged with
every conceivable tool of the period. A foot-powered
lathe. A drop-forge. A lifting saw. Racks of tools,
planes, hammers, augers, drills, blocks, all hanging in
their places. All very well-worn.
FRANCIS MARION methodically works his lathe, turning a
piece of hardwood, shaving off tiny curls of wood with a
razor-sharp chisel. He's in his late-forties, strong and
weathered. His hands, though big and callused, handle the
chisel with a surgeon's precision. Self-educated and
self-sufficient, he has built himself, as he built his
farm, brick by brick, from the coarse clay of the earth.
A finely-made rocking chair, missing only the dowel on
which Marion is working, sits on the work table. The
chair is a work of art, thin and light, a spider-web of
perfectly turned wood, no nails, no glue.
Sitting on the woodpile, SUSAN, 4, a silent, stone-face
wisp of a child, watches her father.
Marion takes the piece of wood out of the lathe, carefully
fits it into the chair, inserts a peg and taps it into
place. Then he steps back and appraises his handiwork.
He picks up the chair and hooks the top rail to a scale,
countering with a three-pound weight. The chair floats.
Marion blows softly on the weight which sinks. Susan
nods, so far, so good. Marion puts the chair on the floor
and walks slowly around it, checking every angle.
Then, the acid test. He takes a deep breath and lowers
himself onto the seat, gingerly adding an ounce at a time.
Not a creak. He smiles and sits back with a sigh.
CRACK! THE CHAIR SPLINTERS under Marion's weight, DUMPING
HIM on his ass on a pile of broken wood.
He picks up some of the wood, about to fling it across the
room but stops as Susan shoots him a disapproving look.
He calms himself.
Susan gets down from the woodpile and puts the remains of
the chair in the fireplace. As she climbs back up to her
perch, Marion steps over to his wood rack, extracts a
fresh dowel, fits it into the lathe and starts all over
EXT. WORKSHOP - DUSK
Marion leaves the workshop with Susan at his side. Nathan
and Samuel walk past, exhausted from their day in the
Father, I saw a post rider at the
Thank you. Did you finish the upper
We got it all cut and we bundled
half of it.
Those swimming breaks cut into the
day, don't they?
Marion walks on without waiting for a reply from his
contrite sons who jostle one another, trying to pass off
the blame. Gabriel and Thomas walk out of the barn.
Father, a post rider came from
Charleston. You have a letter
Thank you. How's the spotted one's
Better. She's near ready to calve.
Marion nods and motions for Susan to go with Gabriel and
Thomas to the house. She does so and Marion walks on
EXT. HILLTOP - POND BLUFF - SUNSET
The loveliest spot on the farm. A beautiful view of the
house, barns, river, fields and hills beyond. A
gravestone stands in the shade of a single apple tree. It
ELIZABETH PUTNAM MARION 1738-1773
Above her name is a carving of the night sky, at the
center of which is the NORTH STAR, steady and guiding.
Marion approaches. He gives himself a moment to look at
the grave, then he starts picking apples, speaking to the
gravestone in a quiet voice that is more matter-of-fact
... and they bundled half... almost
no trace of the boys you knew...
A soft wind blows some dry leaves along the ground.
Marion pauses as if listening to a spoken reply.
... no, she still hasn't spoken...
Margaret was her age when you... I
remember the time at the river when
we couldn't find Catherine... you
couldn't stop crying... and she was
asleep in the wagon the entire
Marion pauses, remembering. The CRASH OF A PLATE
BREAKING, followed by the SOUND OF AN ARGUMENT rises from
the house below. Marion shakes his head with an
He heads down the hill toward the house, now glowing from
the lights of candles and oil lamps.
INT. MARION'S HOUSE - EVENING
Pre-dinner chaos. Everyone talking at once. Marion's
seven children and his two family servants, ABIGAIL and
AARON, a middle-aged black couple, prepare dinner. Susan
silently watches from the stairs. Marion walks in.
I smell turnips...
Father, Samuel broke the blue
I did not...
Marion hands the apples to Abigail and steps over to open
his mail and dispatches.
News of Boston, father?
I hate turnips...
William knocked it right out of my
Samuel, William, both of you clean
Marion hands a packet of pamphlets to Gabriel and opens a
The Assembly has been reconvened,
I've been called to...
Marion's children go wild.
We're going to Charleston!
When, father, when?
We'll leave tomorrow...
The children ERUPT INTO CHEERS and THUNDER into the dining
Charleston! We're going to
Marion and Gabriel exchange a stone-faced look. Then
Marion puts on a smile and inhales deeply.
I love turnips...
Marion follows his children into the dining room.
EXT. MARION'S HOUSE - NIGHT
Quiet. The only sounds are the soft calls of a few
NIGHTBIRDS and the DRONE OF CICADAS. A faint light moves
through the downstairs, passing windows in the otherwise
INT. MARION'S HOUSE - NIGHT
Marion, holding a candle, does a father's bedtime check.
The CAMERA FOLLOWS him as he makes his rounds into:
THE KITCHEN. Everything is clean and put away in its
THE MAIN HALLWAY. Marion checks that the doors are closed
and bolted. He heads up the stairs.
INT. BOYS' BEDROOM - NIGHT
Marion enters, finding William asleep on the floor and
Nathan and Samuel in bed. He lifts William into bed,
takes a slingshot from Nathan's hand, tucks in Samuel and
INT. GIRLS' BEDROOM - NIGHT
Marion steps to the doorway, finding Margaret and Susan at
the window, looking up at the night sky.
... now count five finger lengths up
from the front two stars of the Big
Dipper, and that's the North Star,
Susan gazes up at the North Star. The girls notice Marion
and climb into bed. He puts a chair against Susan's bed
and kisses her. He pulls a blanket up around Margaret,
It helps her to know Mother's there.
Marion nods with a thin smile, kisses Margaret and walks
INT. MARION'S STUDY - NIGHT
Squadrons of lead soldiers stand ready for battle as
Thomas, lying on the floor, deploys his men. Gabriel
reads the new pamphlets and broadsides. Marion walks in
and pours a drink. Gabriel hands several of the pamphlets
to his father.
The New York and Rhode Island
assemblies have been dissolved...
The middle colonies?
Rioting both sides of the bay, in
Chestertown they burned the Customs
House and tar-and-feathered the
Customs Agent. He died of burns.
In Wilmington they killed a Royal
Magistrate and two Redcoats.
Anything about the convention in
Poor Richard says they'll make a
Declaration of Independence by July.
Marion shakes his head and sits down, carefully extracting
a delicate pair of reading glasses from a wooden box. He
Scott Higgins joined the militia.
Marion hears but doesn't respond. Thomas looks up from
his lead soldiers.
He's seventeen. A year younger than
Gabriel and Thomas wait for a reaction. There is none.
Gabriel goes back to reading and Thomas resumes playing
with his toy soldiers. Marion's eyes drift from the page
EXT. SWAMP ROAD - DAY
The Marion family, in two tightly-packed carriages, drives
on a beautiful road, cut through the swamps. The canopy
of swamp maples and weeping willows forms a tunnel of
green, mottled by sunlight.
EXT. BENNINGTON OVERLOOK - DAY
The two carriages pass a view of their entire valley.
Scattered farms with a patchwork of cultivated fields
surrounding the town of Bennington.
EXT. SANTEE ROAD - DAY
Passing through rolling farmland, the Marions head toward
the coast. They pass a large contingent of South Carolina
Militia, drilling in a field. The children, particularly
Gabriel, watch avidly.
EXT. CHARLESTON - DAY
A big, bustling city. Marion and Gabriel negotiate the
carriages through the busy streets. The children watch,
wide-eyed, seeing taverns, a public gallows, drunkards,
street entertainers, well-dressed ladies attended by their
maids, food venders, a man with a trained bear.
EXT. CHARLOTTE'S HOUSE - CHARLESTON - DAY
Grand. Four stories. Marion and his children pull up.
CHARLOTTE MOTTE hurries out. She's in her mid-thirties,
beautiful, with a deep sadness that she keeps hidden as
best she can.
The children leap from the carriages and swarm around her,
embracing her, smothering her with kisses.
Aunt Charlotte! Aunt Charlotte!
Welcome! Welcome! Margaret,
William, look at you...!
They're huge. What have you been
They're from good stock on their
Charlotte hustles the children toward the door.
Come, come, inside, wait until you
see what I have...
Presents! For me? What do you
Charlotte sweeps past Marion who smiles and follows her
into the house.
INT. PARLOR - CHARLOTTE'S HOUSE - DAY
Marion watches as Charlotte finishes handing out presents.
Susan plays with a new doll. William has half-a-dozen new
spinning tops, skimming around the floor. Margaret holds
a new dress up to herself. Samuel, Nathan and Thomas tear
into packages holding platoons of lead soldiers. Gabriel
looks through a new book.
Charlotte sees Marion watching her, rises and joins him at
You look well, Charlotte.
As do you.
Suddenly Thomas and Samuel race through the doorway,
forcing Marion and Charlotte together, their bodies close.
They step back and exchange warm but uneasy smiles.
The moment is broken by the SOUND OF CHILDREN. Marion and
Charlotte gratefully turn their attention back to them.
EXT. CHARLESTON SQUARE - NIGHT
Down the block from the Motte house. A yelling crowd of
Sons of Liberty is massed around a Liberty Tree from which
hang dozens of glowing lanterns. Most of the men in the
crowd are drunk. Vendors sell rum, ale, food and banners
emblazoned with a coiled snake and the legend, "Don't
Tread On Me." Scores of on-lookers, including respectable
people, as well as street urchins, whores and drunkards,
watch the proceedings.
Several Sons of Liberty string up effigies of King George
III and Governor Wilmington. They light the effigies on
fire. As they begin to blaze, the crowd cheers.
EXT. CHARLOTTE'S BALCONY - NIGHT
Marion's children, except Gabriel, stand on the balcony
watching the mob. Marion steps out onto the balcony.
Inside, all of you...
The children turn to Marion with stricken expressions.
The children turn back to the mob. Marion joins them.
Look! There's Gabriel!
They see Gabriel making his way through the crowd. He
sees them and waves, then enters the house.
A moment later Charlotte steps out onto the balcony and
IN THE SQUARE, a pair of drunk Sons of Liberty, pull down
one of the smoldering effigies, cut off its head, then
start hacking at it's groin with a sword.
Appalled, Charlotte shoots a glare at Marion and snaps at
Children, inside! All of you!
The children start to protest, but a glance at Charlotte's
resolute expression makes them think better of it. They
file into the house. Charlotte shoots a glare at Marion
and shoos the children inside. Gabriel steps out and
The British army is barricaded in
Boston. Harry Lee, is here from
Virginia, recruiting for a
Is that why the Assembly was
Yes. He seeks a levy of troops and
And the Governor?
He vowed that if the Assembly votes
a single shilling to Lee, he'll
dissolve the body.
Which would force our delegates in
Philadelphia to vote for
And send us to war alongside
Our governor is a bigger fool than I
Lee is counting on your vote and
expects you to be the first to
Marion nods thoughtfully without revealing what he thinks
of Lee's expectations. Marion turns back to watch the
EXT. ASSEMBLY HALL - CHARLESTON - DAY
The capital building of South Carolina. A large crowd of
lower-class men and women is massed in front of the
Assembly Hall. As well-dressed Assemblymen walk into the
building, the CROWD YELLS words of encouragement to some
and berates others.
In the square in front of the Assembly Hall a squadron of
blue-uniformed AMERICAN CONTINENTAL SOLDIERS drills. A
recruiting table is being set up by a Continental Captain
and several military clerks.
Marion and Gabriel walk across the square toward the
Assembly Hall. As they push their way through the crowd,
Gabriel eyes the Continentals.
INT. ASSEMBLY HALL - DAY
Two dozen ANGRY, YELLING, MEN OF PROPERTY. Among them are
ROBINSON, HAMILL and JOHNSON, who are Patriots. Opposed
to them are SIMMS, WITHINGTON and BALDRIDGE who are
Loyalists (loyal the the King). As Marion makes his way
to his seat, the SPEAKER OF THE ASSEMBLY POUNDS HIS GAVEL.
Slowly, the room quiets down.
Our first order of business...
And out last if we vote a levy...
The ROOM ERUPTS.
ORDER! ORDER! Mr. Simms, you do
not have the floor.
The ROOM SETTLES DOWN.
Our first order of business is an
address by Colonel Harry Lee of the
An imposing figure rises and makes his way to the front of
the assembly. He's COLONEL HARRY LEE, about Marion's age
and cut from the same cloth -- strong, weathered, with a
powerful bearing. The room quiets down.
Lee sees Marion and offers a familiar nod, which Marion
returns, stone-faced. Then Lee speaks, simply and
You all know why I am here. I am
not an orator and I will not try to
convince you of the worthiness of
our cause. I am a soldier and we
are at war and with the declaration
of independence we all expect from
Philadelphia, it will soon be a
formal state of war. In preparation
for that, eight of the thirteen
colonies have levied money in
support of a Continental Army. I
ask South Carolina to be the ninth.
Colonel Lee, Massachusetts may be at
war, along with New Hampshire and
Rhode Island and Virginia, but South
Carolina is not at war.
Massachusetts and New Hampshire are
not as far from South Carolina as
you might think and the war they're
fighting is not for independence of
one or two colonies. It's for the
independence of a nation.
And what nation is that?
Robinson, one of the Patriots, stands up.
An American nation. Colonel Lee,
with your permission?
Those of us who call ourselves
Patriots are not seeking to give
birth to an American nation, but to
protect one that already exists. It
was born a hundred-and-seventy years
ago at Jamestown, Virginia and has
grown stronger and more mature with
every generation reared and with
every crop sown and harvested. We
are a nation and our rights as
citizens of that nation are
threatened by a tyrant three
thousand miles away.
Thank you. Were I an orator, those
are the exact words I would have
Laughter. Marion rises.
Mister Robinson, tell me, why should
I trade one tyrant, three thousand
miles away, for three thousand
tyrants, one mile away?
Laughter from the Loyalists. Surprise from Lee and the
Patriots. In the gallery, Gabriel winces.
An elected legislature can trample a
man's rights just as easily as a
Captain Marion, I understood you to
be a Patriot.
It's Mister Marion.
I understood him to be a Patriot as
If you mean by a Patriot, am I angry
at the Townsend Acts and the Stamp
Act? Then I'm a Patriot. And what
of the Navigation Act? Should I be
permitted to sell my tobacco to the
French traders on Martinique? Yes,
and it's an intrusion into my
affairs that I can't... legally.
And what of the greedy, self-serving
bastards who sit as Magistrates on
the Admiralty Court and have fined
nearly every man in this room.
Should they be boxed about the ears
and thrown onto the first ship back
to England? I'll do it myself.
And do I believe that the American
colonies should stand as a separate,
independent nation, free from the
reins of King and Parliament? I do,
and if that makes a Patriot, then
I'm a Patriot.
Marion grows more serious.
But if you're asking whether I'm
willing to go to war with England,
the answer is, no. I've been to war
and I have no desire to do so again.
The room is quiet, the Assemblymen having been thrown off-
balance. Gabriel is stunned and disappointed by his
This from the same Captain Francis
Marion whose anger was so famous
during the Wilderness Campaign.
Marion glares at Robinson, then smiles.
I was intemperate in my youth. My
departed wife, God bless her soul,
dampened that intemperance with the
mantle of responsibility.
Robinson looks derisively at Marion.
Temperance can be a convenient
disguise for fear.
Marion bristles but before he can answer, Lee steps in.
Mister Robinson, I fought with
Captain Marion in the French and
Indian War, including the Wilderness
Campaign. We served as scouts under
Washington and I have no doubts
about Captain Marion's courage or
competence on a battlefield.
There's not a man in this room, or
anywhere, for that matter, to whom I
would more willingly trust my life.
I stand corrected.
Nonetheless, I would like to know,
Mister Marion, how... how... how...
Lee's oratorical skills peter out.
Damn it, Francis! How in God's name
do you expect to gain independence
without going to war?
Harry, Harry, Harry...
Marion and Lee drop all formality and become nothing more
than two old friends, pissed off.
My hairy arse! You live in a cave
if you think we'll get independence
The Speaker POUNDS HIS GAVEL.
Gentlemen! Please! This is not a
Wasn't it a Union Jack we fought
A long time ago...
That's a damn long time...
The Speaker POUNDS HIS GAVEL again.
Marion and Lee ignore the speaker.
You were an Englishman then...
I was an American, I just didn't
know it yet...
The astonished Assemblymen and now even the Speaker watch
the argument avidly, turning their heads in simultaneous
anticipation of each rejoinder.
We don't have to go to war to gain
There are a thousand avenues, other
than war, at our disposal...
Name five hundred.
Royal petition, delegates to court,
judicial redress, economic boycott,
That's five, keep going...
... time, royal succession,
You said bribery twice...
Marion speaks slowly and firmly.
We do not have to go to war to gain
Lee says nothing for a moment, then he speaks more
seriously, quietly, grimly.
Francis, I was at Bunker Hill. It
was as bad as anything you and I saw
on the frontier. Worse than the
slaughter at the Ashuelot River.
The British advanced three times and
we killed over seven hundred of them
at point blank range. And still,
they advanced and they took the
ground. That is the measure of
their resolve. If your principles
dictate independence, then war is
the only way. It has come to that.
Marion is silent for a long moment. He softens, finds
himself unsteady and speaks far more honestly than he ever
I have seven children. My wife is
dead. Who's to care for them if I
go to war?
Lee is stunned by Marion's honesty and his show of
weakness. At first Lee has no answer, then:
Wars are not fought only by
childless men. A man must weigh his
personal responsibilities against
That's what I'm doing. I will not
fight and because I won't, I will
not cast a vote that will send
others to fight in my stead.
And your principles?
I'm a parent, I don't have the
luxury of principles.
The other Assemblymen, both Patriots and Loyalists, stare
at him, appalled. Marion, feeling weak, sits down. Lee
looks at his friend with more sympathy than
disappointment. Then Lee turns to Robinson who addresses
Mister Speaker, I call for a vote on
a levy to the Continental Army.
The vote is taken on a roll call. Gabriel watches from
In the gallery Gabriel turns and walks out. The roll call
continues. Marion sits, eyes straight ahead.
EXT. ASSEMBLY HALL - DAY
The crowd waits. The doors open and a PAGE BOY dashes out
and runs to the Continental Captain at the recruiting
Twenty-eight to twelve, the levy
The Continental Captain motions to an assembled squadron.
They raise their muskets and FIRE A VOLLEY into the air.
Other soldiers, STRIKE UP A MARTIAL AIR ON FIFES AND
DRUMS. Volunteers crowd around the recruiting table,
YELLING and jostling for position.
The delegates walk out. Both Patriots and Loyalists give
Marion a wide berth.
Marion sees Gabriel, standing near the crowd at the
recruiting table. Marion walks up to him.
Father, I've lost respect for you.
I thought you were a man of
When you have children, I hope
When I have children, I hope I don't
hide behind them.
Marion looks closely at Gabriel.
Do you intend to enlist without my
They lock eyes for a moment, then Gabriel turns from his
father and walks away, joining the crush around the
Marion stands alone in the middle of the chaos. The FIFES
AND DRUMS continue to play. Marion doesn't hear them.
Harry Lee walks out of the Assembly hall with a triumphant
group of Patriots who look at Marion coldly.
Lee excuses himself, and steps over next to Marion. Lee
sees that Marion is watching Gabriel at the enlistment
One of yours?
I recognize him now. Is he as
imprudent as his father was at his
No, thank the Lord. He's more like
I'll see to it that he serves under
They shake hands. Then Lee walks over to the soldiers.
Marion takes a last look at Gabriel, then heads off
through the crowded square, moving against the tide of men
headed toward the recruiting table.
EXT. POND BLUFF - DAY
Springtime. The apple tree at the top of the hill is
covered with blossoms.
"TWO YEARS LATER"
EXT. FIELD - POND BLUFF - DAY
Marion plows a field. Nathan leads the plowhorse. Samuel
follows, breaking up the clods of dirt. Hard work. They
stop to catch their breath. A SOFT WIND blows.
Marion turns his head as if listening for a faint voice.
He hears nothing. He snaps the reins and continues
INT. MARION'S ATTIC - LATE AFTERNOON
Dark. Thomas steps up into the attic. He finds a trunk
and opens it. Lifting out some blankets, he uncovers a
trove of Marion's old military gear -- a worn battle coat,
a box of medals, a military sword, rusted into its
Thomas puts on the coat, which hangs off his narrow
shoulders. He stands in front of a dusty mirror,
appraising himself, then stops as he hears FOOTSTEPS
coming up the stairs.
It's Marion, tired and dirty from his plowing. Thomas
grimaces, expecting him to be angry, but sees him shake
his head gently.
Not yet, Thomas.
Marion looks closely at his son, giving him the courtesy
of really thinking about the answer.
But it's already been two years and
that's two more years. The war
could be over by then.
Thomas considers it, then nods.
Marion offers his hand. They shake firmly, like adults.
Marion takes the coat off Thomas and puts it back in the
trunk. They walk down the stairs together.
INT. POND BLUFF - DAWN
All is quiet. A dawn mist hovers close over the ground.
Some sparrows feed at the base of the apple tree near the
gravesite. DISTANT THUNDER. Low and rolling. The birds
stop feeding, uneasy, then fly away.
INT. MARION'S BEDROOM - DAWN
At another roll of the DISTANT THUNDER Marion awakes. He
gets out of bed and pulls on his clothes.
EXT. FRONT PORCH - MARION'S HOUSE - DAWN
Marion steps out to his front porch and listens. He knows
the sound, the DISTANT STACCATO BOOMS OF CANNON and the
PATTERING WAVE OF THOUSANDS OF MUSKETS FIRING.
One by one the children join him. Thomas, Nathan and
Samuel listen analytically. Margaret and Susan press
close against their father. William looks curiously at
the cloudless sky.
Is it going to rain?
That's not thunder.
The SOUND BECOMES DEEPER, MORE OMINOUS. They all notice
Six-pounders. Lots of them.
How far away?
Four, five miles.
Just east of it.
Are we safe here?
Marion puts on a smile.
We could go stay at Aunt Charlotte's
farm. She's to the west.
No, there'll be skirmishers on the
roads. We're safer here.
Thomas appears at the doorway with a pair of muskets. He
gives one to Nathan and offers the other to his father.
Put those away.
But father, they might come this
Put them away.
Reluctantly, Thomas takes the muskets back into the house.
Enough. I'll be in the workshop.
Samuel, the cows. Thomas, attend to
your studies here on the porch.
Nathan, on the back porch. If you
see anyone, come get me. Margaret,
please keep William close to you.
No one is to go past the yard wall.
They all nod. Marion walks off toward the workshop,
followed by Susan. The others hesitate.
They head off to do as they were told.
INT. WORKSHOP - DAY
Marion works the lathe. Susan watches from her perch on
EXT. BARN - DAY
The SOUND OF A CRASH from inside the barn. An angry cow
runs out of the barn, dragging a tenacious Samuel who is
holding onto the cow's neck.
Samuel's grip fails and he lands in the dirt. The cow
runs about thirty yards down the hill, stopping on the
bank of the river. Samuel grabs a rope and heads down the
hill to get the cow.
ON THE RIVERBANK
As Samuel approaches the cow, he see it skittishly
approaching then retreating from the water. Then he sees
the cause -- the water in the river has a pale, pink hue.
Samuel stares at it, trying to figure out what it is.
Behind him, Margaret sees her brother beyond the yard
He doesn't respond. Margaret, trailed by William, walks
down toward Samuel.
Samuel, get up to the house. You
Then she sees it, too. The pale pink is turning redder
and redder. And then the BODIES. First one, then more,
many more. Torn apart. Missing limbs. Those with wide-
open wounds, are already drained of blood. Others are
still seeping, leaving trails of deep red in the paler red
of the surrounding water.
Samuel, Margaret and William stand frozen, appalled and
MARION steps out of the workshop and sees the children at
the river. He can't see what they're looking at.
Irritated, he walks toward them. Then, as he nears the
river, he sees the color of the water and the bodies that
have hypnotized his children. He quickens his stride,
speaking calmly but firmly, careful not to frighten them.
Up to the house, now. All of you,
come on. Now.
EXT. MARION'S HOUSE - NIGHT
Quiet. Dark. Marion stands on the front porch, looking
out into the night, listening, hearing nothing. He
glances up at the star-filled sky, tracking his eyes from
the Big Dipper to the NORTH STAR.
BEHIND THE HOUSE, A FIGURE IN THE DARKNESS, carrying a
musket, moves from shadow to shadow.
INT. KITCHEN - NIGHT
Margaret and Samuel and William talk, their voices low.
They're going to come.
We're going to have to fight them
Father will do that.
They'll probably kill us men and do
Lord knows what to you women.
A SOUND. They all stop. Something moved behind the
kitchen. Margaret silently eases the others out of the
room, through the darkened hall toward their father.
SUDDENLY IN FRONT OF THEM, A BLOODY FIGURE
Big. Hulking. In uniform. Margaret SCREAMS. William
and Samuel CRY OUT. The figure moves toward them...
Marion, on the porch, hears the scream, races into the
house. He sees the figure, moves toward it...
THE FIGURE MOVES INTO THE LIGHT... Marion sees the
Gabriel is wounded, battered and dirty. He carries a
musket and a dispatch case. He sways. Marion catches him
and eases him to a seat.
The battle, were you there?
Margaret, get bandages and water.
Thomas, the porch, eyes open.
Marion checks Gabriel's wounds which are nasty but not
Have you seen any Redcoats?
Not yet. What happened?
Margaret brings water and linen to Marion who expertly
cleans Gabriel's wounds and applies field-dressings.
It wasn't like Saratoga. There, we
stayed in the trees, but this time
Gates marched us straight at the
Redcoats. They fired two volleys
into us and we broke like straw. I
was given these dispatches... I saw
Virginia Regulars surrender... as
they laid down their weapons the
British Green Dragoons rode into
them and hacked them to bits...
killed them all, over two hundred
They had surrendered?
Gabriel nods. Marion's stunned. Gabriel tries to rise.
I have to get these dispatches to
You're in no condition to ride.
I have no choice, I...
Gabriel passes out. Marion catches him and carries him to
a day-bed in the parlor. As Marion lays him down, they
hear HEAVY MUSKET FIRE, VERY CLOSE.
Marion hurries to the door and looks out into the night,
the children cluster around him, seeing a strange sight.
A SKIRMISH IN THE FIELD BELOW THE HOUSE
Pitch black. Then a MUSKET FIRES, creating a FLASH OF
LIGHT that illuminates a tableau of soldiers, about three
dozen Redcoats and as many Patriots.
The strobe of the musket shot provides targets for an
ensuing VOLLEY OF SHOTS in every direction. Then
darkness, punctuated by SCREAMS OF PAIN, CONFUSED
HOLLERING and the RUSTLING OF ARMED MEN IN MOVEMENT.
Then the pattern repeats itself: A MUSKET FIRES,
illuminating a tableau of targets for another MURDEROUS
VOLLEY OF SHOTS.
Margaret, take William and Susan
down to the root cellar. Thomas, go
to the back porch. Nathan and
Samuel, the side windows. Keep out
They hurry off. Marion steps into the house and opens his
gun cabinet. He extracts two pistols and a pair of
muskets. Then he steps back to the front door. He waits
EXT. LOWER FIELD - POND BLUFF - DAWN
First light. The morning mist lies low over the field.
Marion warily approaches the scene of the battle. He
carries a Pennsylvania rifle, has another slung over his
shoulder, and has a pair of pistols in his belt.
As Marion nears the field he sees, appearing out of the
low mist, a nightmarish vision. Young Redcoats and
Continentals are scattered on the ground, dead and
wounded. Many have been hideously torn apart by the
massive musket balls. Blood is everywhere. Marion
hurries back toward the house.
EXT. LOWER FIELD - POND BLUFF - MORNING
Marion loads the wounded men onto a wagon, helped by
Thomas, Nathan and Samuel.
EXT. MARION'S HOUSE - POND BLUFF - DAY
The porch and yard have been turned into a field hospital.
There are about two dozen wounded, a few more Patriots
than Redcoats. Thomas, Nathan, Samuel and Margaret help
Marion tend the soldiers. William and Susan watch from
Marion treats an arm wound, retying a tourniquet,
stanching an ugly flow of blood.
Marion moves to the next of the wounded. Thomas starts to
help but Marion shakes his head.
Marion moves on to another.
Thomas, help me turn him over...
They turn over a young Continental and see a horrible
wound on his back. Thomas, swoons.
A hard glare from Marion strengthens his son. Together
they bandage the wounded man.
EXT. MARION'S HOUSE - AFTERNOON
Triage completed. Margaret and Samuel give water and
food. Marion kneels next to a CONTINENTAL SERGEANT and a
COUPLE OF PRIVATES who are less severely wounded than the
Marion nods, uncomfortable with the thanks.
Sergeant, there are seventeen
wounded men here. Seven Redcoats
and ten Patriots, counting my son
inside. That puts me in a difficult
The Continental Sergeant knows what's coming. The
Privates and Marion's children don't.
You three are the least severely
wounded. I have to ask you to leave
and find care elsewhere.
The Privates are stunned at the request. The Sergeant
looks at Marion's children and nods.
He struggles to his feet and jerks his head for the two
Privates to do the same.
Come on, boys.
Nathan, Samuel and Margaret are confused.
But they're wounded.
There are rules, even in war.
Marion motions to a large, old scar on his arm.
After the Battle of Ashuelot River,
against the French, I got this and
the one on my leg. I couldn't walk.
Washington had to march north. He
left me with other wounded men and a
like number of French prisoners.
Nine for nine. When the French
found us, their surgeon gave me the
best of care. We'll be safe this
Marion's children are not convinced. The Sergeant and the
two Privates gather themselves to leave.
Your best chance is in Bennington,
seven miles east, along the river
The wounded men nod grimly and start off down the road.
Marion and his children watch them go.
EXT. POND BLUFF ROAD - DAY
A dirt road runs along the edge of the Santee Swamps,
stretching toward green, rolling hills beyond. Beautiful
country. Peaceful. Then, the GROUND BEGINS TO SHAKE. A
THUNDEROUS SOUND rises, louder and louder. HORSES HOOVES.
From around a bend, a detachment of cavalry gallops:
British GREEN DRAGOONS. The finest light calvary in the
world. Hard, strong men. Excellent horsemen. Their
mounts are powerful, muscled and perfectly cared for. The
Dragoons themselves are all hardened veterans, marked with
the blood and dirt of a recent battle. Tired and
They're armed to the teeth. Each carries a flintlock
carbine, a brace of pistols and a sword. Some carry
lances as well. Regimental flags flutter. They are forty
of the most imposing, frightening horsemen imaginable.
And at their head, the most imposing man of all, LT.
COLONEL BANASTRE TARLETON. "The Butcher." Aristocratic.
Strong. Dark. A powerful horseman on the best mount of
the entire troop. Decorated. Imperious. No temper, just
hard, cold authority. His men struggle to keep up with
Behind them, two dozen LOYALIST MILITIA CALVARY (American
civilians loyal to the crown). Nasty, local men.
Civilian clothes. Riding at their head is AMOS GASKINS,
grizzled, lower-class, wearing ill-fitting patrician's
AROUND A BEND
The three wounded Patriots who just left Marion's farm
hear the horses coming, stand on the side of the road,
raise their arms and a white cloth of surrender.
The Green Dragoons rein in. Tarleton stops in front of
the three men. He motions for one of his men to lower his
weapon. Then he speaks calmly, quietly, to the wounded
First Virginia Regulars under
Who cared for your wounds?
With a lace table cloth?
Tarleton turns to his second-in-command, MAJOR WILKINS.
Tarleton rides off. Wilkins and several other Dragoons
calmly FIRE THEIR PISTOLS, killing the three Patriots.
The troops ride off, thundering past the bodies of the
EXT. POND BLUFF - DAY
Marion and his children tend the wounded. Gabriel, weak
but walking, helps. REDCOAT INFANTRY appears out of the
woods, heading toward the house. Three dozen men. Scouts
and flank units covering the main body. Marion gathers
his family around him, stands and waits.
The Redcoats get to the house, warily eye the wounded and
Marion's family. A young REDCOAT LIEUTENANT motions his
men to check out the house and barn, then looks at the
wounded, doing a silent count. He turns to Marion.
These men are of my regiment. Thank
Marion nods. ONE OF THE REDCOATS emerges from the house
carrying Gabriel's dispatch case.
Rebel dispatches, sir.
Gabriel steps up.
I carried those. I was wounded,
these people gave me care, they have
nothing to do with the dispatches.
The SOUND OF HORSES HOOVES. All turn and see:
TARLETON AND THE GREEN DRAGOONS
Thundering down the road toward the house. It's an
impressive, frightening sight.
They rein in their horses, stopping in the yard, enveloped
by their trailing cloud of dust.
Tarleton surveys the scene, then speaks to the young
Lieutenant, have a detachment take
our wounded to our surgeons at
Camden crossing. Use whatever
horses and wagons you can find here.
He hands the dispatch case to Tarleton.
We found this, sir.
Tarleton opens it and quickly scans the contents.
Who carried this?
(to Lt. re: Gabriel)
Take this one to Camden, he's a spy.
He will be hung.
Marion quickly steps between Tarleton and Gabriel.
Colonel, he's a dispatch rider and
that's a marked dispatch case.
Tarleton ignores Marion and continues speaking to the
Fire the house and barns.
And the Rebel wounded?
The Redcoat Lieutenant and several of his men are shocked
by the order. Marion is, also, but he's more concerned
with Gabriel. He pushes past some Redcoats and stands at
Tarleton's mount, looking up.
A dispatch rider with a marked case
cannot be held for spying.
Tarleton finally pays attention to Marion. He looks down
at his anguished face and offers the barest of smiles.
We're not going to hold him, we're
going to hang him.
Tarleton draws his pistol and points it at Marion.
Gabriel tries to intercede but is held back by a burly
Oh, he's your son. You should have
taught him about loyalty.
Colonel, I beg you, please
reconsider. By the rules of war, a
dispatch rider with a marked case...
Tarleton controls his shifting mount, keeping his pistol
trained on Marion's face.
Would you like a lesson in the rules
Marion doesn't answer. He looks up at Tarleton coldly,
taking his measure, waiting to see if he's going to pull
Tarleton walks his horse a couple of steps and shifts his
aim, pointing the pistol among Marion's children.
Perhaps your children would.
The children are terrified. Thomas is more angry than
frightened. Marion quickly steps between the pistol and
his children and speaks quietly to Tarleton.
No lesson is necessary.
Tarleton sees the terrified expressions on the faces of
Marion's children. He smiles at the effect. Then he
holsters his pistol.
Marion and his children watch as one of the Redcoats ties
Gabriel's hands. Thomas is beside himself.
Father, do something.
Thomas grows increasingly agitated. He sees that his
father is going to do nothing. He gauges the distance
between Gabriel and the cover of the nearby woods.
Then suddenly, Thomas SPRINGS. He RUNS, THROWING HIMSELF,
into the two Redcoats holding Gabriel, KNOCKING THEM DOWN.
Gabriel is too shocked to take flight. A few of the
Redcoats, including one of the ones knocked down, shake
their heads with sad laughter at Thomas' ineffectual
gesture. One of them grabs Thomas by the scruff of the
neck and yanks him to his feet.
TARLETON sees the commotion. Without pausing he DRAWS HIS
PISTOL AND FIRES, HITTING THOMAS IN THE BACK.
THOMAS is thrown to his knees by the shot. Stunned,
confused, he looks down and sees the massive exit wound in
MARION, horrified, catches Thomas as he falls, easing him
to the ground.
MARGARET CRIES OUT. THE OTHER CHILDREN are stunned to
The REDCOATS are frozen in place. Tarleton's GREEN
DRAGOONS are impassive, having seen worse.
MARION holds his son, looking at the huge,
incomprehensible wound. He knows that Thomas is already
dead, though his body still moves.
MARION'S stunned agony turns to fury. He rises, his eyes
trained on Tarleton, then stops as...
TARLETON raises a second loaded pistol and a DOZEN GREEN
DRAGOONS raise pistols and carbines, aiming them at Marion
and his children.
MARION FREEZES, torn between his fury and fear for his
other children. He locks his eyes on Tarleton.
TARLETON calmly baths in Marion's anger. Then, with a
hard yank of the reins, he jerks his horse's head around
and utters a sharp command to Wilkins.
Tarleton spurs his horse and rides off without looking
back. His GREEN DRAGOONS THUNDER after him.
MARION'S CHILDREN begin to cry. Margaret tries to revive
Thomas' lifeless body, gently caressing his cheek.
Thomas, please, Thomas...
The Redcoats watch in silence. MARION LOOKS AT GABRIEL
and turns to the Redcoat Lieutenant.
The Lieutenant wavers, but he looks after the departing
Tarleton and his resolve stiffens. He turns coldly to
I have my orders. Sergeant!
The Redcoat infantrymen scatter, some to get horses and
wagons from the barn, others to torch the buildings.
MARION stands among the children, all of whom look to
Marion with pleading eyes, waiting for him to do
Papa, look what they did to
Father, they're going to take
With stone-faced fury, Marion watches the Redcoats do
From the barns, they hear the sounds of MUSKETS FIRING and
the SQUEALS OF THE LIVESTOCK being killed.
Other REDCOATS TORCH THE HOUSE, BARN AND OUTBUILDINGS.
THE FLAMES RISE.
The Redcoats bring out Marion's wagons and carriages and
begin loading the Redcoat wounded.
The Redcoat Lieutenant and several of his men walk among
the Patriot wounded who start to struggle to their feet,
begging for mercy. The Redcoats quickly OPEN FIRE, as if
to get it over with.
The WOUNDED PATRIOTS CRY OUT. More SHOTS. Then SILENCE.
GABRIEL, his hands bound behind him, looks to his father
with a combination of resoluteness and fear. Marion locks
eyes with him.
Father, you can't let them take
MARION AND THE CHILDREN
Watch as the Redcoats form up and move out, leading
Gabriel on a tether. Gabriel looks back helplessly but a
hard jerk on the rope by one of the Redcoats turns him
around. They disappear around a bend in the road.
THE INSTANT THE REDCOATS ARE OUT OF SIGHT, MARION speaks
firmly to his weeping children.
MARION STRIDES to his front door and ENTERS THE BURNING
INSIDE, FIRE EVERYWHERE. Picking a route between the
flames, Marion walks to his gun cabinet. He opens it and
pulls out weapons -- two Pennsylvania rifles, two muskets,
two pistols, a long-bladed knife and a worn tomahawk. He
carries them, with powder horns and ammunition pouches
back toward the door.
Marion walks OUT OF THE BURNING HOUSE.
Without breaking stride, Marion throws muskets to Nathan
and Samuel who catch them.
Margaret, take William and Susan to
the river shed. Hide there. If
we're not back by dawn, go up the
river to the Richardson's house.
They'll take you to your Aunt
Charlotte's farm. Nathan, Samuel,
and I are going to get Gabriel.
But what about Thomas?
Leave him. Take care of William and
Marion runs off toward the woods, Nathan and Samuel
follow. Margaret hesitates, then herds William and Susan
toward the river. The house is enveloped in flames.
EXT. WOODED PATH - AFTERNOON
Marion runs, breathing hard, keeping a punishing, steady
pace. Nathan and Samuel run behind, less winded than
their father. Marion makes up with cold fury what he
lacks in youth.
EXT. WOODED HILLSIDE - AFTERNOON
Marion runs up to the crest of a wooded hill. Slows.
Crawls the last few feet. Nathan and Samuel just behind
him. Looks over the hillside.
A path runs through a glen, about fifty feet below.
Marion's eyes dart, absorbing the terrain, looking for
advantage. He points.
Nathan, there. Samuel, there.
The boys go where they're told.
I'll fire first. Then, Nathan, kill
whoever is standing closest to
Gabriel. Samuel, kill the last man
in the line.
They stagger under the weight of the orders. Marion
notices but continues.
After that, Samuel, load for Nathan.
If something happens to me, put down
your weapons and run as fast as you
can, that way, downhill. Hide in
the brush by the river, then make
your way home, get the others and go
to Aunt Charlotte's farm.
The boys hesitate. Marion looks at them firmly.
NATHAN & SAMUEL
Marion disappears into the underbrush.
DOWN THE PATH
The dozen Redcoats approach. Leading Gabriel on the rope.
AHEAD OF THEM
Marion waits in the thick undergrowth.
On the hillside, Nathan and Samuel grip their muskets and
exchange a frightened, troubled look.
The REDCOATS enter the glen.
MARION waits, then picks his moment and FIRES, killing the
Redcoat Lieutenant with a shot to the chest.
NATHAN AND SAMUEL INSTANTLY FIRE, dropping the last
Redcoat in the line and the one holding Gabriel's rope.
THE REDCOATS STOP in confusion...
GABRIEL kneels, out of the line of fire.
The REDCOAT SERGEANT takes command...
FORM BY TWOS! BACK-TO-BACK LINES...
MARION KILLS the Sergeant with a shot to the throat...
Samuel finishes reloading, swaps muskets with Nathan who
FIRES, DROPPING ANOTHER REDCOAT.
Marion FIRES, killing the Corporal, the last man of
Marion ducks to the side as a VOLLEY OF REDCOAT MUSKET
FIRE tears into the spot marked by Marion's rifle smoke...
FROM THIS MOMENT ON, MARION NEVER STOPS MOVING. He
strides rather than runs, staying just inside the brush,
offering only glimpses of himself. He changes his pace
and direction repeatedly, ducking and weaving, firing and
loading while moving. He never gives the Redcoats a
stationary target, especially one marked by billowing
smoke from his flintlock. It's an Indian tactic and it
The Redcoats TRACK HIM WITH THEIR BARRELS, about to
fire... Marion suddenly STOPS DEAD, REVERSES DIRECTION,
several REDCOATS FIRE AND MISS.
Six Redcoats left. Some primed, some reloading. A
REDCOAT draws a bead on Marion who drops to the ground and
FIRES, killing him.
Samuel, WEEPING as he loads, hands a primed musket to
Nathan who FIRES...
The Redcoats turn their attention to THE SPOT MARKED BY
Marion SEES THE REDCOATS AIMING TOWARD THE BOYS. He
instantly STRIDES OUT INTO THE OPEN, drawing the Redcoats'
attention from his sons...
Marion FIRES BOTH HIS PISTOLS, killing two Redcoats...
One Redcoat finishes reloading... Marion rushes him,
shoves aside the barrel and SLAMS him in the face with the
butt of the musket...
This is a DIFFERENT MARION, a vicious, savage Marion,
killing with stunning brutality...
Marion drops his own expended rifle and CATCHES THE
REDCOAT'S LOADED MUSKET before it hits the ground shoves
that musket into another Redcoat's belly and FIRES...
Two Redcoats left, neither finished loading...
MARION CHARGES, drawing his TOMAHAWK, ignores a GLANCING
BAYONET WOUND to the neck, HACKS a Redcoat open...
Splattering himself with BLOOD...
The final Redcoat, a cherubic-face young man, ducks into
the woods... Marion tears after him...
A FOOTRACE... the young Redcoat BLASTING THROUGH THE
BRUSH... the older Marion, panting, losing ground...
A CLEARING... the Redcoat is almost to the cover of the
trees on the far side...
MARION THROWS HIS TOMAHAWK which FLIES through the air and
SINKS IN THE REDCOAT'S BACK...
Marion runs to the wounded Redcoat, grabs his hair, yanks
back his head and SLITS HIS THROAT...
Then, without pausing, Marion wrenches the tomahawk from
the Redcoat's body, and races back toward his sons...
AT THE GLEN
Nathan and a weeping Samuel, stunned at the carnage,
stumble down the hillside toward Gabriel. Marion runs up
and motions for them to stop.
Marion, checks the Redcoats, making sure they're all dead.
Samuel, reload. Nathan, untie
They quickly do so as Marion picks up a loaded musket and
scans the road and the underbrush. In a moment they're
ready. Marion finds his own Pennsylvania rifle, then he
and his sons disappear into the underbrush.
EXT. POND BLUFF - DAY
The house and barns smolder. Thomas' body lies in the
yard. Nearby, the bodies of the Patriot wounded, now
EXT. RIVER SHED - POND BLUFF - DAY
Margaret waits in the shed with William and Susan. They
hear a SOUND. APPROACHING FOOTSTEPS. Margaret pulls her
sister and brother to her and waits.
The door opens. It's Marion and Gabriel, Nathan and
Samuel. Margaret and the little ones throw themselves
into Marion's arms.
Margaret notices the blood on Marion. She hesitates but
her relief tightens her embrace.
EXT. POND BLUFF - DAY
Marion, trailed by his children, walks past the soldiers'
bodies and the remains of their house.
He kneels down next to Thomas' body. On the ground Marion
sees several of THOMAS' LEAD SOLDIERS. He stares at them
for a moment, picks them up and puts them in his pocket.
Marion picks up Thomas and carries him up the hill toward
the apple tree and Elizabeth's grave. The children
EXT. HILLTOP - POND BLUFF - DAY
Marion digs a grave. The children watch. The only sounds
are Marion's labored BREATHING, the RASP OF THE SHOVEL and
the RUSTLE OF DEAD LEAVES blown along the ground by a soft
Some dry leaves catch on Thomas' still wet blood, as if
trying to bandage his wound.
EXT. HILLTOP - POND BLUFF - DAY (LATER)
Marion puts the last shovelfuls of dirt on the grave.
Near tears and unsure of what to do next, he turns to
Elizabeth's gravestone. The soft wind blows. Marion
He turns and sees his children looking up at him. Holding
in his own tears, he gathers the children around him and
let's them cry.
There, there... he's alright... he's
with your mother now...
He stiffens, speaking formally:
Lord, we pray that You accept this
child, Thomas Marion and give him a
place at Your side with his mother.
We ask that You embrace him and help
us to understand the manner in which
Your mercy works. This we ask, in
Your name. Amen.
Marion looks at Elizabeth's grave, then he gently eases
his children away.
EXT. BENNINGTON OVERLOOK - DAY
Marion and his children stop at the overlook, seeing the
Santee River valley spread out before them. The SMOKE
from two dozen farms rises.
The Morgans, the Halseys, Williams,
The smoke from the separate fires joins together high in
the sky, forming what looks like stormclouds. They walk
EXT. CHARLOTTE'S FARM - NIGHT
Marion and his children wait in the cover of the woods.
They see a pair of shadowed figures coming toward them
from the house, Gabriel and Charlotte.
Father, it's safe.
Marion hustles the children out of the woods.
INT. BEDROOM - NIGHT
Charlotte sits, holding a sleeping Susan. The other
children lie awake on pallets. Marion, still streaked
with dried blood and sweat, tucks William and Margaret
Marion moves on to Nathan.
Father... I killed those men...
Don't blame yourself, you did what I
told you to do.
I'm glad I killed them... I'm
Marion isn't. He turns to Samuel who's cried-out. Marion
reaches out to touch him but Samuel recoils from Marion's
blood-streaked hand. Marion sighs and tucks him in.
Try to get some sleep.
Marion moves to take Susan from Charlotte who shakes her
I'll stay with them.
Marion nods and leaves Charlotte with the children.
INT. CHARLOTTE'S LIVING ROOM - NIGHT
Marion enters. He starts to pace but grows unsteady. He
rears back as if screaming but no sound comes from his
mouth, as he looks upstairs, knowing his children are
searching for the solace of sleep.
He opens a cabinet, pulls out a bottle of liquor, pours
and drinks. Then another.
THE SOUND OF HORSEMEN. Gabriel walks in. Tired. Grim.
How are they?
Marion just shakes his head.
Gates is at Hillsboro with the
Continental Army. I'll leave in the
morning to join him.
Marion nods. Marion and Gabriel stand in silence for a
long moment, neither one finding words. Then Gabriel
I'll tend my horse.
He leaves Marion alone.
INT. CHARLOTTE'S FARMHOUSE - NIGHT (LATER)
Marion stares at the fireplace. Charlotte walks in
carrying a pitcher and fresh clothing.
Marion is silent. Charlotte pours water into a washbowl
and motions to Marion. He takes off his shirt. She
begins cleaning away the blood and tending the wound on
How did this... how did I let this
You couldn't have known.
I should have known... once I would
have... I used to be wary... and
today I watched my son killed before
my eyes... your sister civilized me
and I damn myself for having let
Thomas is dead but you've done
nothing for which you should be
I've done nothing and for that I am
She looks at him closely.
If you go, I'll care for them as if
they were my own.
I'll leave in the morning with
He stares past her, looking at the flames in the
fireplace. She tends his wounds.
EXT. PORCH - CHARLOTTE'S FARMHOUSE - MORNING
Marion and Gabriel finish saddling their horses. Marion
embraces Nathan and Samuel. Then he turns to Margaret,
William and Susan.
When will you be back?
I don't know, William.
Marion winces. Margaret puts her arm around William.
No, not tomorrow.
Marion kisses them both, then moves on to Susan, trying to
coax a word out of the silent four-year-old:
She just looks at him.
Just one word? Goodbye? That's all
Susan shakes her head. He sighs, rises and turns to
Charlotte. They hesitate, then embrace, hugging deeply
but a bit awkwardly, holding each other just a moment
longer than one would expect. She looks up at him... he
kisses her on the cheek.
Marion mounts up. And he and Gabriel head off, Susan,
unnoticed and unheard, whispers:
Marion and Gabriel ride away.
EXT. CAMDEN ROAD - DAY
Marion and Gabriel ride past the signs of a small
skirmish. Bodies. Abandoned wagons. Dead horses. A
EXT. CAMDEN HILLSIDE - DAY
Marion and Gabriel ride to the crest of a hill. A vista
spreads out before them. They see an awesome sight -- A
MASSIVE SLASH OF RED approaches a MASSIVE SLASH OF BLUE.
A battle is taking place about five miles away.
Gabriel starts to spur his horse but Marion restrains him.
No, it's too late.
Gabriel stops. Marion points out brightly colored
clusters of men behind each army.
Command posts... Patriot...
The distant slash of red stops. Marion and Gabriel hear
only a GENTLE WIND and some nearby SONGBIRDS.
Then, from a black mass of the side of the red slash, a
sudden, silent eruption of white smoke.
An instant later, the blue slash quivers. A moment later
the SOUND OF THE CANNONS, RUMBLES UP THE HILL and rolls
over Marion and Gabriel.
The RED SLASH STOPS moving. It darkens as thousands of
Redcoats raise their muskets and the front ranks kneel
into firing position.
Marion's eyes dart. He knows what's coming.
Break for the trees... break for the
A MASSIVE ERUPTION OF WHITE SMOKE billows from the red
slash. An instant later, the blue line starts to break up
as hundreds of distant Patriots fall.
The SOUND OF THE BRITISH MUSKETS reaches Marion and
Gabriel like the pattering of rain.
Then the SMOKE OF INEFFECTIVE, SCATTERED VOLLEYS erupts
from the Patriot lines. The red line holds firm.
Send them to cover! Goddamn you!
But the blue line of the Patriots stays in the open field.
From behind the Redcoats, FAST-MOVING GREEN AND RED MASSES
move quickly onto the battlefield. CAVALRY.
Father, we have to do something...
The British cavalry slams into the blue line, shattering
it. Tiny bits of blue move in every direction.
It's already over.
Marion watches, appalled. At this distance the moving
slashes of color and billowing smoke are strangely
beautiful. Marion turns his horse and heads down the
hill, toward the rear of the Patriot lines.
EXT. AMERICAN ENCAMPMENT - NIGHT
A nightmare. SCREAMS OF AGONY. A few hundred battered,
Patriot survivors treat their wounded and prepare to move
out. The battle, so bloodless and beautiful at a
distance, has, in its aftermath, become horrifically
painful and ugly.
Marion and Gabriel ride into camp, passing nervous
sentries and a field surgery which is surrounded by pools
of blood and amputated legs and arms. Marion sees HARRY
LEE at a make-shift command post, barking orders, trying
to pull things together.
Damn you, Sergeant, don't move the
wounded twice, put them straight on
the wagons from the surgeons.
Lieutenant, detail men for
outriders. We move out as soon as
the wounded are ready.
The Lieutenant rushes off. Lee notices Marion and
Gabriel, surprised to see them. He jerks his head for
them to follow him into:
LEE'S COMMAND TENT
Once out of sight of the men, Lee loses his command
bearing. Exhausted, he leans on his campaign table and
looks closely at Marion, asking with his eyes why Marion
Green Dragoons came to my home,
killed my son, Thomas. It was
I'm sorry I wasn't here for this.
There's nothing you could have done,
Gates is a damned fool.
I begged him to stay in the cover of
the trees but he insisted the only
way to break Cornwallis was muzzle-
to-muzzle. He spent too many years
in the British army.
Where is he now?
Last anyone saw, riding hard,
northeast, his staff a hundred yards
behind, trying to catch up.
Who's in command?
I am, I think.
What are my orders?
Lee gives Marion a tired smile.
If you want orders, I've got some
Lee ROLLS OUT A MAP for Marion and Gabriel.
We're a breath away from losing this
war. In the North, Washington is
reeling from Valley Forge, running
and hiding from Clinton and twelve
Here in the South, Cornwallis has
broken our back. He captured over
five thousand of our troops when he
took Charleston and today he
destroyed the only army that stood
between him and New York.
So now Cornwallis will head north,
link up with Clinton and finish off
And Patriots will start dying on the
gallows instead of the battlefield.
Unless we can keep Cornwallis in the
South until the French arrive. A
treaty was signed at Versailles
after our victory at Saratoga. The
French are sending a fleet and ten
Fall, six months at the earliest.
The bigger problem is where, not
when. The French fleet won't sail
north of the Chesapeake for fear of
So you're going to try to keep
Cornwallis in the South until then.
Not me, you. I'm going north with
every Continental regular I can find
to reinforce Washington or he won't
last six weeks.
You expect Cornwallis to be held
here by militia?
Not held, just slowed down.
They're nothing but farmers and
you're asking them to try to keep a
tiger in their backyard. They'd be
better off letting it move on.
They'd be better off, but the cause
How many men does Cornwallis have
under his command?
Four thousand infantry and around
six hundred cavalry...
... including the Green Dragoons
At the mention of Tarleton, Marion nods.
I'll do what I can.
Lee quickly writes something.
I'm giving you a field commission as
He hands it to Marion. Gabriel steps forward.
Colonel Lee, I request a transfer to
Colonel Marion's command.
Lee scribbles another order and hands it to Gabriel. Then
he turns to Marion.
Marion nods. They duck out of the tent.
EXT. AMERICAN ENCAMPMENT - NIGHT (LATER)
Marion and Gabriel stand watching Lee and his Continental
regulars move out. Gabriel turns to Marion.
What now, sir?
We put out the word. We'll start
along the south side of the
We'd cover more ground if we split
It's safer if we stay together.
Gabriel steps in front of Marion.
Colonel, I didn't request this
transfer because you're my father.
I requested it because I believe in
this cause and this is where I can
do the most good.
I've been doing this for two years.
I'm the best scout in the
Continental Army, the best horseman,
the best shot, the best scavenger
and I know every deer path and swamp
trail between here and Charleston.
Is that so?
My father taught me.
Marion looks at Gabriel closely.
Did your father teach you humility?
He tried. It didn't take.
Marion looks Gabriel up and down.
Alright, Corporal, you take
Bennington, Harrisville, Acworth and
the farms along Black Swamp. I'll
take the north side of the river.
We'll meet at Snow's Island.
They mount up.
... be careful.
They ride off in different directions.
EXT. BRADFORD VILLAGE - NIGHT
Marion rides into a small village, passing several bodies
in blue Continental uniforms, hanging from lampposts.
Marion stops in front of a tavern, dismounts and enters.
INT. TAVERN - BRADFORD - NIGHT
As Marion walks in he's greeted by cold stares from half-
a-dozen men, huddles over their drinks.
I'm looking for John Billings.
Marion looks closely at the grim, suspicious men.
If he comes back from the dead, tell
him Francis Marion is looking for
I'll be sure to do that.
As Marion turns to leave he notices an open bottle of
Madeira on one of the tables. He stops.
I'll wait. Miracles happen.
A stand-off. Then, a hulking FIGURE appears in the
shadows at the back doorway. He's JOHN BILLINGS, big,
coarse, about Marion's age. Billings jerks his head for
Marion to join him in the back room.
INT. BACK ROOM - TAVERN - NIGHT
Dark. Marion and billings talk over a bottle.
You expect to hold Cornwallis with
I expect to try.
Trust you and Harry Lee. Remember
that damned overland you two thought
up in '62 to hit Fort Louis?
It worked. How many men can you
Not many. Dalton, Scott, they've
got their reasons; Rev. Oliver,
he believes in the cause; some of
the young bucks; a few like me with
nothing to lose...
What about you? You've got a lot to
Marion drains his glass and stands up.
You coming, or not?
Billings drains his glass. They walk out together.
EXT. TAVERN - BRADFORD - NIGHT
Marion and Billings ride away from the tavern, passing the
hanging Patriot bodies.
EXT. SNOW'S ISLAND - SANTEE SWAMPS - NIGHT
A CACOPHONY OF BIRDS AND INSECTS. Swamp maples and
willows form a canopy over moss-covered mounds and pools
of plant-choked water.
Gabriel leads several men, riding along a dry path that
snakes through the swamp. They cross a narrow land bridge
onto a wooded island, joining a dozen-and-a-half men,
including Marion who kneels at a campfire.
CLOSE SHOT: Several of Thomas' brightly painted LEAD
SOLDIERS MELT in a cast-iron pan. The little men fall to
their knees then lose form, turning into bubbling, molten
The new arrivals dismount and greet the others.
Gabriel steps up behind Marion and watches as he pours the
lead into a bullet mold, closes the lid and dips the mold
into a bucket of water which HISSES and STEAMS.
Father, this war is about more than
Marion doesn't look up.
If you're here only for revenge,
you're doing a disservice to him as
well as yourself.
How old are you?
You know how old I am.
God help us all when you're forty.
Marion puts some more lead soldiers into the pan. Gabriel
shakes his head, turns away and goes to tend his horse.
EXT. SNOW'S ISLAND ENCAMPMENT - MORNING
Day breaks. A low, thick swamp mist covers the
encampment. Marion, sits alone by the embers of last
night's campfire. The men are awake. Some eat, others
Marion pulls himself out of his dark reverie. He takes
the bullets from the mold and puts them in a pouch
attached to his weapons' belt. Then he rises and heads
over to the men.
He surveys his brigade. Twenty-six men: framers,
artisans, mountain men, none in uniform. Marion walks
among them, nodding familiarly to several. He notices an
imposing looking Cherokee Indian, BROTHER JOSEPH, standing
a bit apart from the others. They exchange nods.
He notices a stern-looking man in partial clerical garb,
REV. CHARLES OLIVER.
I heard about your son. I'm sorry.
Marion accepts his condolences. He notes GEORGE DALTON, a
tough-looking, rustic man with an ice-cold, distant stare.
Dalton doesn't respond. Marion recognizes another face,
ABNER BROWN, African-American, around thirty, rugged.
Marion addresses the men who do not gather around so much
as just give him their attention.
You all have your own reasons for
being here. I lost a son and I
intend to kill the man who killed
Marion pauses and looks over at Gabriel.
... But I don't consider that man's
life adequate payment for the life
of my son, and killing him won't
keep the sons of other men from
Gabriel nods, approvingly.
Cornwallis has to move north. We
have to keep him right here. If
he's south of the Chesapeake when
the French arrive, if the French
arrive, we have a chance of winning
Marion looks from face to face.
Eat, get some rest, we move out in
Marion heads back to his campsite, passing Gabriel without
looking at him, but very aware of his son's eyes on him.
EXT. BRITISH FIELD HEADQUARTERS - CAMDEN - DAY
A massive British army field encampment. Thousands of
well-armed, veteran troops. Large detachments of Redcoats
march through endless rows of tents. Some are battle-
worn, others are fresh troops moving out.
TARLETON and his GREEN DRAGOONS, covered with dirt and
sweat, ride into the encampment. Tarleton and Wilkins
peel off, riding to the front of a farmhouse that has been
commandeered for British headquarters. They dismount and
INT. CORNWALLIS' HEADQUARTERS - CAMDEN FARMHOUSE - DAY
British officers, clerks and aides work. They're in good
spirits. LORD CORNWALLIS, a proud man, comfortable with
command, coldly notes one of his officers slapping another
on the back. MAJOR HUNTINGTON rolls out a map for
The officers gather around the map.
Major, this is not an adequate map.
We have better coming on the
trailing supply convoy from
A useful place for our maps.
I'm sorry, sir, it won't happen
Tarleton enters, followed by Wilkins.
My harrier. Join us, Colonel.
Tarleton and Wilkins join them around the map.
Gentlemen, celebration is premature.
We have a difficult campaign ahead
of us. We are in predominately
hostile country and we cannot rely
on forage. As we move north, the
bulk of our supplies will reach us
by sea, through Charleston, which
will give us a long and vulnerable
supply line, one that can only be
secured if the locals are loyal to
Cornwallis turns to his field officers, paying particular
attention to Tarleton.
Nonetheless, we must remember that
this is a civil war...
Tarleton proudly holds Cornwallis' look.
These colonials are our brethren and
when this conflict is over, we will
be reestablishing commerce with
them. Surrendering troops will be
given quarter and unwarranted
assaults on civilians will cease.
Wilkins shifts uneasily. Tarleton isn't cowed.
I expect this war to be fought in a
vigorous but civilized manner.
Cornwallis looks at his other officers.
Have I made myself clear, gentlemen?
Cornwallis shifts his eyes back to Tarleton who was not
among those who spoke. Tarleton pointedly pauses a
moment, then says:
Cornwallis turns his attention back to the map. His men
EXT. CORNWALLIS' FIELD HEADQUARTERS - CAMDEN - DAY
Tarleton and Wilkins walk out and mount up.
I believe he was speaking to us,
Did you know that Lord Cornwallis'
father was a tenant on the estate of
Tarleton jerks his reins and rides off. Wilkins laughs
EXT. WOODED ROAD - DAY
A British supply train of several dozen wagons, a herd of
horses and accompanying Redcoats makes its way.
ON A WOODED HILLSIDE, Gabriel lies on the ground,
observing the convoy. He eases back, mounts up, and rides
EXT. BRIDGE - SANTEE RIVER - DAY
Marion and his men wait, well-hidden in the brush on a
rise, just above the bridge. Gabriel rides up.
Less than a mile. Forty-one wagons,
a company of Redcoat infantry,
horses at the rear.
I didn't see any.
Marion nods and motions to his men who check their weapons
and pass the word. Gabriel ties up his horse and takes a
position near his father.
EXT. SANTEE ROAD - NIGHT
The British convoy rounds the curve. When two-thirds of
the wagons have crossed the bridge, Marion FIRES, killing
the Redcoat of highest rank, a CAPTAIN.
BILLINGS AND DALTON heave CORKED BOTTLES which break,
spreading their OILY CONTENTS on the wooden bridge.
BROTHER JOSEPH fires a FLAMING ARROW, igniting the oil.
The BRIDGE BURSTS INTO FLAMES, cutting off the tail of the
convoy, stranding a dozen wagons and the herd of horses on
Marion's side of the river.
A REDCOAT LIEUTENANT takes command.
Across the river! Covering fire!
Marion calls to his men.
Epaulets first... Kill the officers.
Marion and his men FIRE A WITHERING VOLLEY, KILLING ALL
REDCOATS OF RANK -- two lieutenants, a sergeant and
The LEADERLESS REDCOAT PRIVATES take cover as Marion's men
OPEN UP on the Redcoats on their side of the river.
With half of his men FIRING COVER, Marion and the other
half run to the wagons, passing Redcoat dead and
DALTON, notices a WOUNDED REDCOAT and pauses...
The Redcoat looks up imploringly at Dalton who finishes
reloading, then coldly FIRES, KILLING THE helpless
Marion, Gabriel and Rev. Oliver see Dalton kill the
wounded Redcoat as they race toward the wagons, British
musketballs SPLINTERING TREES all around them...
The horses nearest the burning bridge are terrified,
BUCKING AND REARING, STRUGGLING in their traces...
MARION LEAPS INTO THE SEAT of one wagon. Gabriel and
Billings grab the reins of two more wagons.
The Redcoats keep up a STEADY FIRE. TWO OF MARION'S MEN
FALL, one dead another wounded.
Marion, Gabriel and Billings STRUGGLE TO CONTROL THE
FRIGHTENED HORSES, backing them up around the curve to the
cover of the woods.
MARION'S REARGUARD, Brother Joseph, Abner, Dan Scott and
others, withdraws in leapfrog, FIRING BACK ACROSS THE
BRITISH MUSKET BALLS SLAM into the trees and SPLINTER THE
Another of Marion's men is WOUNDED. Two of his comrades
HEAVE HIM onto one of the wagons...
As Marion's men get the wagons turned and unblocked from
each other, they DRIVE THEM OFF, one after another...
Brother Joseph, Abner and the rest of the rearguard make
it to Marion and LEAP INTO HIS WAGON...
MARION snaps the reins and they THUNDER OFF, away from the
BURNING BRIDGE and the FIRING Redcoats.
EXT. SNOW'S ISLAND - DAY
Marion's men tend their wounded and look through the
British wagons, taking inventory.
... two-hundred-sixty-six Brown Bess
muskets, forty-one casks of powder,
We have enough arms for an army.
Now all we need is an army.
Marion checks out a wagon full of tools with DAN SCOTT and
ROB FIELDING, a couple of sharp-eyed craftsmen. They
overlap dialogue, rapidly speaking the private language of
Reamer, boring tool...
Swage, broach, etching tool...
A rolling gunsmith's shop...
We can rifle those musket barrels...
Get another hundred yards out of
We'll need a forge...
We've got clay to make a chamber...
Oak to make charcoal...
Oil cloth and barrel staves to make
And we can yank a wagon wheel,
weight it, rig a piston and drive
shaft and we'll have a flywheel to
power the bellows...
Scott and Fielding exchange an impressed look.
That's why he's a colonel.
Scott and Fielding roll up their sleeves and get to work.
Marion hears a COMMOTION OF BARKING DOGS AND YELLING MEN
and strides over to find Billings cowering before TWO HUGE
GREAT DANES who stand guard at one of the wagons.
Shoot them! Shoot the damn things!
Dalton prepares to do so.
Put that pistol down!
They followed us from the bridge.
They won't let anyone near the
Marion steps forward, speaking softly but firmly to the
Stay... stay... stay...
The dogs waver between obeying Marion and ripping out his
Don't you growl at me!
The dogs decide to obey. Marion lets them sniff his hand,
then firmly pats them.
Now let's see what's in this wagon.
Rev. Oliver and Abner join him. Billings eases past the
dogs. Abner opens a large case and finds it filled with
Rum, French Champagne, Madeira,
No wonder they were guarding it.
Gabriel opens a trunk and finds it filled with powdered
wigs, all perfectly coifed and stored on head-shaped wig-
stands. Rev. Oliver opens one of several identical cases
and finds it filled with papers.
My heavens, personal correspondence
of... Lord Cornwallis.
Marion grabs some papers, scans them, then finds matching
cases on nearby wagons.
These four wagons must be his.
And the dogs, too, I'll wager.
I say we drink the wine, shoot the
dogs, and use the papers for musket
His journals, letters, maps,
Abner calls from another wagon.
Colonel, we got a wagon full of
officer's uniforms and more powder
and muskets here.
Ignoring Abner, Marion, sits down on a stump with a pile
of Cornwallis' papers and starts to read.
EXT. SNOW'S ISLAND - NIGHT
Marion sits at Cornwallis' ornate, folding campaign desk,
reading Cornwallis' journal, surrounded by Cornwallis'
field gear which includes furniture, music boxes, oil
paintings and an elaborate folding commode. The TWO GREAT
DANES sit nearby, eyeing Marion warily.
The men have divided themselves into two groups, one
coarse, the other civilized, each clustered around a
The coarse men, including Dalton, Brother Joseph and
RANDOLPH, a grizzled, black-toothed mountain man, drink
and laugh loudly, wearing Cornwallis' wigs askew.
The civilized men, including Rev. Oliver, Gabriel, Scott,
Fielding and Abner, talk quietly.
Marion puts down the journal and walks over to the
campfire where the rougher men are gathered. He stands
just inside the firelight and speaks loudly, so that all
Today was hard earned but a good
Marion looks at Dalton, then turns to the other men as
In the future wounded British
soldiers will be given quarters.
Like they gave quarter to my family?
My wife and three children were
hiding in our root cellar when they
came. The Redcoats locked the door
and torched the house.
You have my sympathy... but the
And who are you to give an order
like that? We all know what you did
after Fort Wilderness.
That hits home but Marion remains calm.
I'm your commanding officer. This
is militia, not regular army. I
can't hold you here, but as long as
you stay, you'll follow my orders.
Marion looks from face to face. Most begrudgingly nod.
That's enough for Marion.
As he heads back to his own campfire he's intercepted by
Rev. Oliver who speaks to him out of earshot of the other
men, except for Gabriel and Billings who overhear.
For trying to impose some decency on
Don't depend on my decency. I'm one
of that sort.
Marion walks on. Rev. Oliver exchanges a look with
Gabriel, then heads off. As Marion joins Gabriel and
Billings at his campfire, Billings grips his bottle.
Am I one of that sort?
You're the worst of that sort.
You're the sort that gives that sort
a bad name.
Billings considers that, then shrugs and takes a long
drink. He hands the bottle to Marion who takes an equally
long drink. Marion picks up his Pennsylvania rifle.
I'm going to check the watch.
He disappears into the darkness leaving Gabriel and
Billings at the campfire.
He shouldn't make light. That
Redcoat should not have been killed.
He's not making light.
Gabriel shoots Billings a dubious look.
You don't know him very well, do
He's my father.
Billings looks closely at Gabriel.
I know him well enough?
Don't fault him for having grown up
on the frontier. It was a harder
time and a harder place than you
Gabriel looks at Billings, then turns back to the fire.
EXT. SNOW'S ISLAND - DAWN
The men are beginning to stir, gathering around the
campfires, cooking, using pots, pans and other gear from
the stolen British wagons.
Marion reads Cornwallis' journal. He looks up, stretches
and walks over to a campfire where Gabriel, Billings and
Rev. Oliver cook. The dogs follow at a distance.
I've just been inside the mind of a
genius. Lord Cornwallis knows more
about war than I could in a dozen
Cheerful news to greet the morn.
His victories at Charleston and
Camden were perfect, strategically,
tactically, logistically. But he
has a weakness.
They all turn to Marion.
Lord Cornwallis is brilliant. His
weakness is that he knows it.
Pride is his weakness.
The men consider that.
Personally, I'd prefer stupidity.
Pride will do.
BEGIN MONTAGE: Series of shots as follows:
-- A VOLLEY OF MUSKET FIRE erupts from some thick
underbrush, cutting down half of a squadron of Redcoats
on the march. The surviving Redcoats FIRE BACK into
the trees at unseen targets to little effect.
-- Marion rides with about fifty men.
-- A British supply convoy makes its way through the
woods. Suddenly, Marion's men appear, rising up from
the ground as if by magic, having been camouflaged by
leaves and brush. They OPEN FIRE on the convoy escort,
which holds for a moment, then flees.
-- Marion rides with about seventy-five men.
-- Cornwallis finishes reading a dispatch and furiously
flings it across the room.
-- Marion rides with about one hundred men.
-- Snow's Island. Marion and his men do an inventory of a
large haul of stolen British supply wagons. The booty
includes dozens of BRASS MUSICAL INSTRUMENTS, some of
which Marion's men BLARE in celebration.
-- Marion rides with about one-hundred-fifty men.
-- Marion, Gabriel, and some of the other men watch as the
flaming supports of a BURNING WOODEN BRIDGE collapse
into a river.
-- A seething Cornwallis stands at the same spot, looking
at the charred, now cooled, remains of the bridge.
Cornwallis angrily mounts up and rides off. His
contrite staff officers mount up and follow.
-- Snow's Island. Marion sits with his muddy feet on
Cornwallis' campaign desk, reading Cornwallis' journal,
with Cornwallis' Great Danes at his side.
EXT. CAMDEN - NIGHT
Glittering lights shine from the Camden Inn, a grand
structure in the center of town.
A line of OPULENT CARRIAGES discharges well-dressed
passengers, arriving for a ball. Ladies in their finery.
Patrician husbands. Redcoat and Green Dragoon officers in
magnificent dress uniforms.
INT. CORNWALLIS' PERSONAL QUARTERS - EVENING
Cornwallis, standing in front of a full-length mirror, is
dressed by his VALET while Major Halbert, Colonel
Huntington and Tarleton look on.
Why am I here, Colonel Halbert?
For the ball, sir?
Cornwallis holds his temper.
Why, after six weeks, are we still
here to attend a ball. By now, we
should be attending balls in North
Carolina, not South Carolina.
Our supply line, sir?
Excellent guess, Major.
The valet puts a dress coat on Cornwallis who looks at the
garment with deepest disdain.
And what, praytell, is this?
Uh... I borrowed it from Colonel
North. I took it in at the back,
added wider epaulets, a court sash
and looped gold braiding on the
It's a horse blanket.
(to Major Halbert)
First my personal baggage, then half
the bridges and ferries between here
and Charleston burned, a dozen
convoys attacked. Colonel, if you
can't secure our supply line against
militia, how do you expect to do so
against Colonial regulars or the
French when they come?
Sir, they're not like regulars, we
can't find them and we don't know
when or where they're going to
How impolite. And who leads these
clever, secretive fellows?
We don't know, sir. He's called,
the Commander by some, the Swamp Fox
Colonel, I'm a civilized man but I'm
finding to difficult to remain
civil. Secure my supply line.
Cornwallis looks at his reflection with dismay, sighs and
strides out. Tarleton, amused, follows.
EXT. CAMDEN STREET - NIGHT
At the far end of town Marion, Gabriel, Billings, Dalton,
Scott and several other men slip through the shadows into
an alley. The lights from the ball shine from down the
street and the MUSICAL STRAINS of a MINUET drift to them
through the night.
EXT. ARMORY - NIGHT
A block-like building on the far edge of town. A pair of
REDCOATS stand guard. A PAIR OF DRUNKEN REDCOATS stagger
out of a side-street, SINGING A MUMBLING SONG. The
Redcoat guards look at the drunk Redcoats enviously.
Hey, what you got there?
The drunken Redcoats look up, bringing their faces into
the light -- THE DRUNKEN REDCOATS ARE BILLINGS AND DALTON.
We got our own little party...
To hell with the officers and their
fancy dress ball...
Give us a nip, here.
Billings and Dalton walk over to the Redcoats guards. As
the guards reach for the bottles, Billings SLAMS one of
the guards back against the building...
Dalton DRAWS A KNIFE and PLUNGES IT into the second
guard's belly and HACKS HIM OPEN...
Dalton shoves Billings out of the way, SLITS THE OTHER
GUARD'S THROAT. Billings is taken aback by the speed and
ferocity of Dalton's attack...
Marion and Scott duck into the shadows of the doorway,
pull out hammer-less carving chisels and quickly and
silently start gouging out the wood around the hinges of
the heavy door.
Billings and Dalton take the posts of the guards while the
other men drag the bodies of the real guards out of sight.
Everything appears as it should.
INT. BALLROOM - NIGHT
Grand. Opulent. Cornwallis speaks with a small gathering
of loyalist civilians, among whom is the spectacular MRS.
TALBOT, who wears a daring dress that reveals an enormous
expanse of bosom. At her side stands her toady of a
husband, MR. TALBOT.
No! The beasts took your dogs, as
Fine animals, a gift from His
Majesty. Dead now, for all I know.
Is there no decency?
Among the rebels? We know the
answer to that.
Yes, we have learned.
INT./ EXT. CAMDEN ARMORY - NIGHT
Marion and Scott shove their chisels through the door
which falls away from the hinges. They all duck inside
finding barrels and casks of gunpowder, boxes of weapons
and hundreds of muskets.
Gabriel and the others load themselves up with the best of
the weapons as Marion opens a cask and pours a trail of
gunpowder across the floor.
EXT. BALCONY - CAMDEN INN - NIGHT
Cornwallis, taking the night air with Mrs. Talbot, gazes
at the moon, achieving the calculated effect.
You seem far away.
It's the weight of command and the
lot of a widower -- memories,
(with a self-
... and long gazes at the moon.
Mrs. Talbot sympathetically sighs and touches her
fingertips to her heart which is conveniently located
inches above her stunning cleavage.
Oh, you poor man...
A MASSIVE EXPLOSION LIGHTS UP THE NIGHT as a FIREBALL
erupts from the armory. British officers, including Major
Halbert and Tarleton, RUSH OUT along with Mr. Talbot and
other Loyalist civilians.
Mr. Talbot tears his eyes from the flames and looks at
his wife, clinging to Cornwallis' arm.
These rebels seem to lack fear as
well as decency, eh, General?
Cornwallis registers the insult, glances at the hapless
Major Halbert, then turns to Tarleton.
Colonel Tarleton, you deal with
these damned rebels.
Tarleton smiles grimly and strides off the balcony.
EXT. VIEW OF PEMBROKE VILLAGE - DAY
The village of Pembroke lies nestled in a valley,
surrounded by tilled fields and small farms.
EXT. PEMBROKE VILLAGE - DAY
Forty of Marion's men water their horses. Marion, with
the two Great Danes at his side, speaks with PETER GREEN,
a middle-aged storekeeper with a marked limp.
... four baskets of apples, salt
pork, sweet potatoes, jerky, hard
tack, salt and powder. It's not
much, but I'll get you more.
We can't pay for this...
I'll give you what I can, when I
can. You pay me what you can.
Green's daughter, ANNE, very attractive, around sixteen,
joins them. Gabriel sees her and sidles over.
Francis, you remember my daughter,
Nice to see you again, Anne.
Gabriel clears his throat. Anne looks at him coolly.
I know who you are, Gabriel Marion.
The last time I saw you, I was nine
and you put ink in my tea.
I... uh... that wasn't me, it was
Samuel... I mean Nathan...
It was you and it turned my teeth
black for a month.
Uh... uh... I...
He's sorry. Come.
Green heads across the square where some townspeople are
giving Marion's men provisions. Anne and Gabriel follow.
Marion turns to some waiting men, new recruits.
Billings, nearby, reads A POSTED BROADSHEET that
announces: "Reward Offered: For the capture or death of
the rebel known as 'The Swamp Fox'".
He tears it down and walks over to Marion.
... and your terms of enlistment
will be month-to-month. Every
thirty days you can re-enlist or
return to your families.
REED, the sturdiest of the lot offers his hand to Marion.
The others nod in agreement.
Talk to Abner and Scott about
provisions, powder and mounts.
The recruits head off. Billings hands Marion the wanted
poster which Marion glances at and crumbles up.
Twenty men here, seventeen in New
Brighton, a dozen along the Black
River. We'll pass three hundred by
week's end if this keeps up.
ON THE OTHER SIDE OF THE SQUARE
Gabriel and several of Marion's men take supplies from
Green, Anne, and some other townspeople. Gabriel looks at
If I'd known you were going to look
like this, I never would have put
ink in your tea.
You call that a compliment?
It's a start.
She gives him a bit of a smile. He checks out her teeth.
They look nice. As white as can be.
She tries to glare but she can't help but laugh.
MARION AND BILLINGS watch as Anne gives Gabriel some
apples which he tosses into the air, one-by-one, catching
them behind his back, a cocky move, executed with a
disarming smile that makes Anne laugh again. Marion
smiles at his son's flirtation. Billings smiles as well.
He reminds me of you before you got
old and ugly.
No, he takes after his mother...
Billings is taken aback by the gentleness of Marion's
... the younger ones barely remember
her but Gabriel spent more time with
Elizabeth... she taught him well,
guided him, she was his North Star
and mine... her father was a
minister, in Boston, did you know
... Gabriel's already a better man
than I could ever hope to be...
Marion hears himself and pulls his eyes from Gabriel,
adopting a coarse, joking tone.
What do you mean, old and ugly?
You got me beat on both accounts.
The hell I do.
They mount up, grateful to leave the sincerity behind.
Gabriel sees Marion and his men starting to ride off. He
says goodbye to Anne, then RUNS TO HIS HORSE, MOUNTING
WITH A DRAMATIC LEAP. He GALLOPS up, taking his place at
his father's side. Marion doesn't turn to look at him,
but he knows he's there.
EXT. CAROLINA ROAD - DAY
A patchwork of fields with a village visible in the
distance. The ROLLINS BOYS, 10 and 12, work a field,
harvesting grain. Hearing the SOUND OF HORSES' HOOVES,
they stop and listen.
Then they see a CLOUD OF DUST rising over the ridge line.
Growing excited, they throw down their scythes and race
down the hillside, madly stumbling and falling, trying to
intersect the approaching sound.
At the bottom of the hill they pass their father, BEN
ROLLINS, who watches his sons plant themselves on the side
of the road, gazing in awe at:
MARION AND HIS MEN, THUNDERING BY. They're an impressive
sight, a hundred-and-fifty heavily armed men, on powerful
mounts, raising a cloud of dust as they gallop down the
EXT. CHARLESTON ROAD - DAY
Marion and forty of his men, including Gabriel, sit on
their motionless horses in the middle of the road. There
are a number of new faces among Marion's men, among them
Ben Rollins. Gabriel is lost in thought.
Gabriel? Are you asleep?
We're low on salt. I should go to
Pembroke and get some.
You got salt last week.
Baking powder, we need baking
We've got plenty of baking powder.
You went to Pembroke and got five
pounds two weeks ago.
Gabriel sighs. They hear a SOUND APPROACHING, then see
two British wagons round a curve with a guard of only SIX
REDCOATS, commanded by a REDCOAT SERGEANT. The Redcoat
Sergeant signals stop.
Halt. Look alive, boys.
The young Redcoat privates nervously UNSHOULDER THEIR
Sergeant, this road is closed.
Those wagons now belong to the
Ready arms! By twos!
Marion's surprised by the Sergeant's order.
Sergeant, there's no reason for you
and your men to die. Just leave the
wagons and go.
Marion sighs and lets loose with a PIERCING WHISTLE. The
underbrush parts and more of Marion's men show themselves,
MUSKETS LEVELED at the outnumbered Redcoats.
This is the King's highway and I
advise you and your men to make way.
(to his men)
Prepare to fire.
Marion exchanges a look with Rev. Oliver who, like Marion,
doesn't want to kill these men. Seeing no other option,
Marion turns to give the order, then stops, hearing a
FAINT BARELY DETECTABLE, RUMBLING SOUND...
A moment later Brother Joseph hears it as well... HORSES
HOOVES, LOTS OF THEM, growing louder by the second,
THUNDERING toward them from the road behind the British
Then, the SOUND OF MORE HORSES, coming in fast on both
It's a trap...
The canvas sides of the British wagons are THROWN UP and
DOZENS OF REDCOATS, armed with muskets, spill out...
Marion's unmounted men run to their horses, LEAPING into
Then GREEN DRAGOONS appear, galloping down the wooded
slopes on both flanks, astonishing horsemen, weaving
through the trees without slacking their pace, SWORDS
DRAWN, PISTOLS PRIMED...
A THUNDEROUS VOLLEY ERUPTS from the Redcoat infantry,
KILLING several of Marion's men...
Marion's men FIRE BACK from their BUCKING MOUNTS, most of
their shots going awry...
Behind the British wagons, a huge detachment of GREEN
DRAGOONS appears, TARLETON among them...
MARION SEES THE DRAGOONS BUT NOT TARLETON HIMSELF...
MARION AND HIS MEN spur their mounts, taking off down the
road in the opposite direction...
The FLANKING BODIES OF DRAGOONS gallop out of the woods,
JOINING THE MAIN BODY, riding in hard pursuit...
EXT. WOODED ROAD - DAY
Marion and his men GALLOP down the road. The much larger
body of Green Dragoons THUNDER after them.
EXT. BLACK SWAMP ROAD - DAY
Marion and his men ride along a raised road that drops off
into Black Swamp on either side...
They ROUND A CURVE AND STOP, reining back their horses in
confusion as they see:
FIFTY GREEN DRAGOONS heading straight toward them...
THE DRAGOONS OPEN FIRE from both directions, KILLING
several more of Marion's men, WOUNDING others...
Marion's men FIRE BACK as best they can, caught in the
CHAOS OF BUCKING AND FALLING HORSES and WOUNDED AND
They remount, doubling-up with the wounded...
MARION sees an unaided wounded man. LEAPS FROM HIS
HORSE, heaves him onto his horse, slaps it...
Marion's men head off both sides of the road into the
swamp, struggling with their mounts as they hit the knee-
Marion on foot with four men, only three horses... A
DRAGOON, aiming his pistol, THUNDERS down on Marion...
MARION FIRES, killing the Dragoon...
Marion's men mount, one motions to Marion...
Marion's men ride off, leaving him ALONE... a Dragoon is
almost on him, SWORD RAISED. Marion, his weapon spent,
sees a thick branch on the ground, two feet long... grabs
The sword flashes and SINKS DEEPLY INTO THE WOOD... Marion
YANKS, brings the rider off his horse, grabs the reins and
SWINGS HIMSELF UP INTO THE EMPTY SADDLE. Marion rides
down the embankment...
The Dragoons rein back, slowed by the dead horses and men.
They spur their reluctant mounts over the bodies and
follow Marion and his men into the swamp...
EXT. BLACK SWAMP - DAY
MARION RIDES HARD, galloping along a circuitous, barely
visible dry trail... A MOMENT LATER, Tarleton and Green
EXT. DEEP IN THE SWAMPS - EVENING
MARION CATCHES UP to a dozen of his men, including Gabriel
and Billings. Several of the men are badly wounded,
barely clinging to their saddles...
They ride through the shallow water, get to a fork, SPLIT
UP. As they disappear into the swamp, the sounds of their
horses are swallowed up in the LOUD BUZZING OF SWAMP
INSECTS and the CRIES OF THE SWAMP BIRDS...
A moment later, Tarleton and the vanguard of Dragoons ride
up. Tarleton signals stop at the fork...
Looks... nothing. Listens... nothing. Chooses a path,
the one Marion took. Rides off, the Dragoons following...
EXT. DEEPER IN THE SWAMPS - NIGHT
Darker still. Tarleton and his men come to a dead end,
blocked by a heavy tangle of huge swamp ferns and thorn
They rein back their horses, stopping in a confused mess.
Tarleton calls to Gaskins and the Loyalist scouts.
This way... no this... I think...
Tarleton makes his own choice... rides off... the Green
Dragoons follow, the Loyalists bring up the rear.
EXT. SWAMP MORASS - NIGHT
Tarleton and his mounted Dragoons struggle through a
nearly impassable morass of swamp-grass, reeds and
The exhausted Dragoons are wet, covered with mud, and
bleeding from swamp briars. The horses are spent and
Tarleton struggles harder than any, but finally even he
has had enough. He reins back his horse.
Tarleton glares into the impenetrable darkness of plant-
choked water and swamp...
Enough of this. There are other
ways to run down a fox.
Tarleton yanks on his reins, turns his horse and starts
back the way they came. His grateful men turn their
horses and follow.
IN THE UNDERGROWTH, Marion, Gabriel, Billings and three
badly wounded men, with only four horses between them,
calm their mounts...
They can hear, but not see the Dragoons. Then, through
the thick undergrowth, MARION CATCHES A GLIMPSE OF
Gabriel, tending the wounded men, sees his father lock his
eyes on Tarleton...
Marion quickly opens his weapons pouch and pulls out one
of the bullets he made from Thomas' lead soldiers.
Walking to his horse, Marion loads...
Marion mounts, scanning the terrain, planning a route...
As Marion spurs his horse to ride after Tarleton, Gabriel
grabs the bridle. He YANKS HARD, stopping Marion's horse
dead. THE HORSE BUCKS, nearly throwing Marion...
That's him. Tarleton.
MARION SPURS THE HORSE which tries to respond but is
JERKED BACK AGAIN by Gabriel. Marion angrily turns on his
Damn you! Let go!
Gabriel looks up at his father, never loosening his iron
grip on the bridles but speaking softly, almost
Marion looks down at Gabriel. Then Marion looks over at
Billings and the three wounded men...
One bleeds from an ugly neck wound... their shared mounts
are nearly spent...
Marion takes a last look in the direction of the departing
Tarleton. Then he dismounts and hurries over to help the
wounded. Gabriel watches his father for a moment, then
joins him with the wounded.
EXT. WOODED GLEN - NIGHT
Dark. Marion and his battered men gather, taking stock.
Men drift in, mounted and on foot in ones and twos, past
wary sentries. GABRIEL RIDES UP, dismounts and reports to
Marion, out of earshot of the other men.
Fourteen dead, eleven wounded,
I should have killed him when I had
When was that? In the swamp at the
expense of your men? Or when he
killed Thomas at the expense of your
Or perhaps tomorrow at the expense
of our cause.
Marion is silent.
There will be a time and a place for
revenge but killing Tarleton at the
expense of your duty serves no one
Stay the course.
The parental-sounding formality of Gabriel's words brings
a thin smile to Marion's face.
Stay the course... your mother used
to say that to me when I'd get drunk
or lose my temper.
She'd say it to me when I picked on
Thomas or Nathan.
You learned her lessons better than
She got me at a more impressionable
Marion smiles, nods a silent thanks to his son and heads
over to help with the wounded.
EXT. MARION'S ENCAMPMENT - NIGHT
A cold, winter rain falls. Most of Marion's grim men are
huddled in lean-to's and around campfires. Green and
several other Pembroke townspeople unload a wagon of
supplies while Marion, Scott and Fielding stow the
Gabriel and Anne sit at a fire, under the cover of a lean-
to, taking quietly. He's troubled. She tries to be
Next time we'll bring more blankets.
That would be nice.
Maybe we'll be lucky this winter and
have just rain, no snow.
That would be nice, too.
She takes a pot off the campfire and pours him a cup of
Just because the French didn't come
this fall, doesn't mean they're
never going to come.
He nods and takes a drink of the tea. She smiles.
Gabriel smiles back to her, revealing a mouthful of ink-
stained, black teeth. Before she has time to laugh...
ROLLINS RIDES HARD INTO CAMP. Marion hurries over,
accompanied by the Great Danes. The other men gather
They're to be hung!
But they're prisoners-of-war!
Marion isn't as surprised as Gabriel. He is, however,
taken aback by Gabriel's black teeth. Gabriel notices
everyone looking at his mouth.
Anne is embarrassed and regretful, seeing her joke fly in
the face of the troubling news.
EXT. FORT CAROLINA - DAY
A REDCOAT SENTRY sees a lone figure on horseback ride out
of distant woods. It's Rev. Oliver, carrying a white flag
with one hand, holding a dispatch case in the other. The
sentry calls to the Commander of the Watch.
INT. CORNWALLIS' HEADQUARTERS - FORT CAROLINA - DAY
A temporary HQ has been set up in a commandeered
farmhouse. Cornwallis stands uncomfortably while a tailor
measures him and marks alterations on a partially
completed uniform. Tarleton enters.
General, a message from the
commander of the rebel militia.
Cornwallis reads the message.
It seems our Swamp Fox wants to have
a formal parley.
Are you going to meet with him?
Most certainly. Arrange it.
EXT. CAROLINA ROAD - DAY
Marion rides, trailed by Cornwallis' Great Danes. Behind
him, two dozen heavily armed Patriots, including Rev.
Oliver who carries a white flag.
A detachment of Redcoat Cavalry, lead by Major Halbert,
waits. The Redcoats fall in on either side. They ride
EXT. FORT CAROLINA - DAY
Redcoat sentries see the approaching Patriots and Redcoats
and open the gates. Billings and the other Patriots stop,
a hundred yards outside the barricades.
MARION alone rides through the gates, flanked by the
British cavalry, the Great Danes following closely behind.
INT. CORNWALLIS' HEADQUARTERS - DAY
Major Halbert ushers Marion in. The Great Danes follow
sniffing curiously, sensing something or someone.
Lord Cornwallis will be with you
You may, of course, keep your
weapons, but I must warn you that...
I'm familiar with appropriate
behavior at a military parley.
Yes, quite, but you should know
That will be all, Major. I'll wait
for Lord Cornwallis.
Yes... you will wait.
Major Halbert turns and starts to stride out.
One other thing.
Major Halbert stops.
The proper form of address to a
superior officer, even one of an
opposing army, is "Yes, sir."
Major Halbert sneers and strides from the room. MARION
ALONE, EXCEPT FOR THE DOGS, allows himself a fleeting
smile. Then he looks around the room. He notes a rocking
chair. Curious, he hefts it. Too heavy. He puts it
down, sits and rocks. The dogs walk over and lay at his
INT. CORNWALLIS' HEADQUARTERS - DAY (LATER)
Marion patiently sits rocking. One of the dogs has its
head in his lap and Marion scratches it behind the ears.
INT. CORNWALLIS' HEADQUARTERS - DAY
A stone-faced Marion stands in the center of the room,
playing with the dogs. One of the dogs jumps up, putting
its front legs on Marion's shoulders, and licks his face.
Just then, Cornwallis walks in, overjoyed to see his dogs.
The dogs just look at Cornwallis. He holds out his arms,
waiting for them to rush to him. They look up at Marion
who nods to them.
The dogs run to Cornwallis and nuzzle him in a friendly
but not enthusiastic manner. Cornwallis pats them
vigorously, too vigorously for the moderate level of joy
the dogs are showing at their reunion.
My boys... my boys... you seem to
have been well fed. Thank you for
My pleasure, sir.
Please forgive me for keeping you
Thank you, Colonel... I'm afraid I
don't know your name.
Colonel will do.
As you wish.
TARLETON ENTERS with four Dragoons, all armed...
Marion and Tarleton lock eyes. Marion searches for some
sign that Tarleton recognizes him. There's none.
Colonel... Colonel Banastre
Marion, like ice, looks Tarleton up and down. Then he
slowly turns and looks at the four Dragoons, two on either
side of Tarleton. Marion measures the odds and finds them
With a supreme effort of will, Marion forces himself to
turn from Tarleton to Cornwallis and the matter at hand.
Shall we proceed?
Let us. Unless you object, I would
like to deem this meeting a formal
negotiation and, as such, there are
certain customary practices.
Perhaps I could explain them to
I'm familiar with how a formal
negotiation is handled.
I served in His Majesty's army in
the French and Indian War.
Oh. Very well, then. Would you, as
the initiating party, like to begin?
Unless you would like to claim
Cornwallis is surprised. He exchanges a look with
You are familiar with how these
things are done. In fact, I would
like to claim aggrieved status.
Very well, proceed, sir.
First, you have in your possession
certain belongings of mine,
including clothing, private papers,
furniture and personal effects of a
non-military nature which I would
like to have returned to me.
I will do so as soon as possible.
Cornwallis is surprised.
Please accept my apology for not
having done so sooner.
Apology accepted. Now, on the
matter of the specific targeting of
officers during engagements, this is
That one is a bit more difficult.
Certainly you must know that in
civilized warfare, officers in the
field must not be accorded
inappropriate levels of hostile
And what are inappropriate levels of
Colonel, imagine the utter chaos
that would result from un-led armies
having at each other. There must be
gentlemen in command to lead and,
when appropriate, restrain their
Restrain them from the targeting of
civilians, including women and
That is a separate issue.
I consider them linked.
I beg to differ. One is a command
decision on your part. The other
represents nothing more than the
occasional over-exuberance of field
officers attempting to carry out
their duty in difficult
As long as your soldiers attack
civilians, I will order the shooting
of your officers at the outset of
And my men are excellent marksmen.
Very well, let us move on to...
You have eighteen of my men. I want
I do have eighteen criminals under
sentence of death, but I hold no
If that's your position, then
eighteen of your officers will die.
Nineteen, if you hang me with my
Marion steps to the window, checks the view. A wooded
hillside is visible in the distance. Marion reaches into
The Dragoons move on him...
Marion extracts not a weapon, but a spyglass, which he
hands to Cornwallis.
In the clearing, just down from the
crest, to the left of the dark
Cornwallis looks through the spyglass.
VIEW THROUGH THE SPYGLASS
Though difficult to see clearly through the shimmering
haze, Cornwallis can just make out a row of bound Redcoat
officers, with Patriot soldiers holding muskets at their
CORNWALLIS turns coldly to Marion.
Their names, ranks and posts?
They refused to give me their names.
Their ranks are nine lieutenants,
five captains, three majors and one
fat colonel who called me a cheeky
fellow. Their posts? We picked
them up here-and-there last night.
Cornwallis glares at Marion.
You are not a gentleman.
Marion can't help but laugh at the insult.
If your conduct is the measure of a
gentleman, I take that as a
Get my men.
Cornwallis turns to Colonel Huntington.
Arrange the exchange.
Colonel Huntington leaves to do so.
Thank you, General. I'm sure your
officers will thank you, as well.
Marion salutes Cornwallis who doesn't return the salute.
THEN MARION TURNS TO TARLETON. He walks up to him and
looks him in the eye.
You don't remember me, do you?
Tarleton examines Marion's face, finding him familiar, but
unable to place him... then Tarleton remembers...
Ah, yes, that boy.
Tarleton calmly holds Marion's glare.
Ugly business, doing one's duty.
Yes, ugly business.
Marion takes a step closer to Tarleton, then speaks very
softly, very slowly, very clearly.
If you are alive when this war is
over, I'm going to kill you.
Marion locks his eyes on Tarleton to make it perfectly
clear that he means what he says. Tarleton tries to cover
his reaction but it's apparent that he's taken aback by
Marion's icy words.
Marion turns and walks out. The two Great Danes start to
follow, but Cornwallis SNAPS A COMMAND:
THE DOGS FREEZE, looking after Marion, who doesn't turn
back. The dogs reluctantly sidle over to Cornwallis'
EXT. ASSEMBLY YARD - FORT CAROLINA - DAY
Redcoats glare at Marion who sits, mounted, waiting. His
eighteen men are led out of the prison blockhouse and
directed to waiting horses. Surprised to be freed, they
CORNWALLIS AND TARLETON step out onto the front porch of
Cornwallis' headquarters and watch as Marion and his men
ride toward the gate.
THE TWO GREAT DANES, watch Marion from Cornwallis' side.
Cornwallis motions to the Redcoat Sentries to OPEN THE
GATES. They do so and Marion and his men, without
hurrying, ride out.
Then, just as the gates are closing behind him, Marion,
without turning around, lets loose with a PIERCING
THE TWO GREAT DANES INSTANTLY RACE AFTER MARION, making it
through the gates just as they're closing.
CORNWALLIS, seeing his dogs run after Marion, SPUTTERS,
then turns and storms back into his quarters.
TARLETON, still off-balance from Marion's parting
statement, watches Marion ride away. Then he turns to
Major Wilkins who stands nearby.
Take a detachment and go get our
Wilkins hurries off.
EXT. HILLSIDE CLEARING - ABOVE FORT CAROLINA - DAY
Major Wilkins and a detachment of Green Dragoons ride up
the wooded slope toward the bound Redcoat officers that
Cornwallis saw through the spyglass. As the Dragoons ride
out of the trees into the clearing they stop dead, seeing
THE "REDCOAT OFFICERS" are not real -- they're nothing
more than SCARECROWS IN REDCOAT UNIFORMS. There's no sign
of Marion or his men.
INT. CORNWALLIS' HEADQUARTERS - FORT CAROLINA - DAY
CLOSE SHOT: One of the "Redcoat Officers," stuffed with
straw is thrown onto Cornwallis' desk by Tarleton.
Cornwallis looks at the scarecrow, then turns to Tarleton.
This fox believes himself clever.
We shall see.
EXT. POND BLUFF - DAY
Tarleton and Wilkins wait while Green Dragoons and
Loyalists search the remains of Marion's house and barn.
Gaskins, filthy from the ashes, walks up to Tarleton.
No one's been here for months.
But now we have a name for our
Colonel... Francis Marion. And with
a name will come a family.
EXT. CHARLOTTE'S HOUSE - NIGHT
A thick ground fog surrounds Charlotte's house. The soft
lights of candles glow in the windows. All appears
Then, the SHADOWED FIGURES of THREE DOZEN GREEN DRAGOONS
appear out of the mist, silently approaching the house on
INT. CHARLOTTE'S HOUSE - NIGHT
A fire crackles in the fireplace. A curtain blows in the
open window. THE DOOR BURSTS OPEN. WINDOWS BREAK. Green
Dragoons pour into the house, muskets brandished. No sign
of occupants. CAPTAIN MORROW barks a command:
The Dragoons THUNDER UP THE STAIRS... Tarleton and Wilkins
stride in, watching the search... the parlor... nothing...
The kitchen... food is cooking...
The dining room... the table is set, half-eaten food is on
the plates, abandoned in mid-meal. TARLETON WALKS INTO
THE DINING ROOM, touches some of the food, gauging its
They can't be far. Check the
outbuildings and the woods.
The Dragoons race outside.
EXT. CHARLOTTE'S HOUSE - NIGHT
A TORCH BURNS. A dozen Dragoons light torches off of it
and fan out to search. The thick fog turns the torches
into diffused, floating balls of light, turning the
Dragoons into ghost-like apparitions.
CAMERA FOLLOWS ONE OF THE TORCHES, carried by a
particularly rough-looking Dragoon who skirts the edge of
the underbrush closest to the house. As the torch moves,
its flame sends long shadows and shafts of light into the
The CAMERA STOPS to reveal, in the brush, TWO FACES,
GABRIEL AND CHARLOTTE, dark, motionless, watching the
search. Behind them, MARION'S OTHER CHILDREN, Nathan,
Samuel, Margaret, William and Susan...
Around them, SEVERAL MORE OF MARION'S MEN, including ABNER
BROWN, weapons ready. The moving lights play on their
AT THE FRONT OF THE HOUSE, the torches converge,
illuminating Tarleton who gives the unheard order. The
torches fan out and begin SETTING FIRE TO THE HOUSE, BARNS
MARGARET grips Charlotte's arm. Gabriel motions and they
all ease back, disappearing into the brush.
EXT. SHANTY TOWN - NIGHT
A compound of rude shacks, built of scraps of lumber and
rough-hewn logs, stands on the side of the Magpie River.
Marion's men wait with the children while Abner, Charlotte
and Gabriel, flanked by Aaron and Abigail, Marion's
middle-aged, black servants, seen in the opening sequence,
talk with several stern-looking, middle-aged, black
The conversation, which is out of the children's earshot,
is testy, with one of the middle-aged freedmen
Marion's stone-faced children look around, appraising
their surroundings, registering the poverty of the shanty
THE DISCUSSION BETWEEN THE GROWN-UPS ends with a guarded
exchange of handshakes. Gabriel, Charlotte, Abner, Aaron
and Abigail rejoin the children and Marion's men.
It's all set.
They follow Aaron, down an alley to A SHACK. Small.
Barely standing. The children stop in their tracks,
knowing this is to be their new home.
Charlotte sees their hesitation. She walks up to the
little structure, examining it with a critical eye. She
looks on the doorway, seeing a single room, a dirt floor,
wax-paper instead of glass in the windows, a rude,
chimney-less fire-pit against the back wall. She smiles.
This will do fine.
She turns to Aaron and Abigail.
Charlotte walks inside without looking back. The children
hesitate, then follow her inside.
INT. SHACK - SHANTY TOWN - NIGHT
The children help Aaron and Abigail make beds out of
armloads of hay. OUTSIDE, Charlotte and Gabriel talk
So he's the one they talk about, the
I thought it might be him, the bits
and pieces we heard, a veteran,
fought in the French and Indian War,
knows the swamps.
They won't stop looking for you and
We'll be alright, here, for now.
How is he?
Gabriel searches for an honest answer.
I don't know... I'm his son.
Gabriel steps over to his saddlebags, opens his pack and
pulls out a stack of letters which he hands to Charlotte.
These are for you and the children.
They sense someone behind them.
Why didn't father come?
Gabriel is astonished to hear words coming from his
heretofore silent sister. Charlotte nods, smiling.
Speaking for months now.
Why didn't he come?
He wanted to, Susan, but he couldn't
leave his men.
He left us.
I know he did and he's sorry. He'll
come back as soon as he can.
Susan says nothing. Gabriel continues, hopefully.
There are some letters here from
him. Some are just to you.
I don't care. I hate him.
You don't hate him.
Yes, I do. I hate him and I hope he
never comes back.
Gabriel kneels down and embraces her. She stands coldly
with her arms at her sides.
EXT. MARION'S ENCAMPMENT - DAY
An astonished Marion talks to Gabriel.
She spoke? Susan spoke?
Full sentences. As if she had been
speaking all along.
I don't believe it... and I wasn't
there for it...
The cloud passes quickly.
Tell me everything she said, word
She said... she loves you and misses
you but she understands why you
can't be there with her.
She said that? Oh, my Lord, she said
Isn't that something.
Marion shakes his head at the thought, smiling to himself.
Gabriel, uncomfortable with the lie, changes the subject.
Father, there's something else I
need to talk to you about.
Come with me. I'll tell you when we
Marion nods and curiously follows Gabriel.
EXT. PEMBROKE VILLAGE - NIGHT
Dark. The village square is deserted. Marion follows
Gabriel into the shadow of the village church. They
dismount, tie up their horses and enter the back door of
INT. CHURCH - PEMBROKE VILLAGE - NIGHT
Marion walks in and stops dead. At the altar of the small
sanctuary, HALF-A-DOZEN PEOPLE stand with Rev. Oliver. At
the center of the tiny gathering is Anne Green, flanked by
Father, I'm looking for a best man.
Marion is stunned but recovers quickly.
I'd be honored.
They share a moment, then head down the aisle. Marion
greets Anne's parents, shaking hands with her father and
bowing to her mother. Abner, at the door, nods that the
coast is clear.
Dearly beloved, we are gathered here
in the sight of God to join this man
and this woman in holy matrimony...
MARION feels every word, looking straight ahead but
knowing that he's standing next to his son.
EXT. CHURCH - NIGHT
In the shadows behind the church, the bride and groom say
goodbye to the wedding party. Anne talks quietly with her
parents. Marion and Gabriel talk nearby.
Sir, I'd like to request a furlough.
Granted. Where are you going?
It's beautiful there. Your mother
and I were there once, before you
They're silent for a moment.
She would have been pleased.
Gabriel nods, then turns to his horse, unnecessarily
checking his pack ropes. Anne joins them. Marion
embraces her and gives her a fatherly kiss.
I'm sorry we didn't give you more
It's alright. I'm very happy for
He helps her mount up. Abner, on guard near the road,
motions them on. They all watch as Gabriel and Anne ride
EXT. WOODED ROAD - NIGHT
Marion, Rev. Oliver and Abner ride slowly down the road.
It's a beautiful, moonlit night. Marion breaks the
silence, speaking as much for himself as the others.
It's a good measure of a woman that
she'll have her honeymoon under the
For richer, for poorer, in sickness
and in health, 'til death do they
Marion nods. They ride on.
EXT. SOUTH CAROLINA SHORE - DAY
A British packet, a small, fast warship, lies anchored
just offshore. A rowboat, manned by half-a-dozen sailors,
carrying a Redcoat Lieutenant, beaches. Several Redcoats
The Lieutenant, carrying a dispatch case, jumps out off
the boat, mounts a waiting horse and rides off.
EXT. SMALL BRITISH FORT - DAY
Cornwallis, with his command staff clustered around him,
sits on horseback reading the dispatch as the dispatch
rider waits. They're on a hillside, looking over the
burned-out remains of a small British fort as some
Redcoats pull the Union Jack out of a trench latrine.
Cornwallis motions Tarleton and they ride a few yards from
the other officers and speak, out of earshot.
From General Clinton in New York...
"... your request to move north is
denied until you have properly dealt
with your militia problem."
He underlined, 'militia'.
"You have spent over six months
dealing with a six-week problem. It
is essential that you quell the
"... insurgency, particularly
because of the likely move south of
Washington and the inevitable
arrival of the French. Militia, as
you have so often pointed out, is
not worth the attention of a
significant army, hence it is
mystifying why militia has bedeviled
you for so long..."
Tarleton smiles slightly, enjoying the show.
"... it is my fervent hope that the
vigor of your campaign comes to
match the vigor of your
correspondence with your
Parliamentary and Court patrons.
Only then might you share in the
victory, on the verge of which I now
"Your guardedly respectful
Commander, General Sir George
Cornwallis grows eerily calm and turns to Tarleton.
If I fail, you fail.
And if I triumph, you triumph.
How can we end this madness?
Difficult, sir. This is, as you
pointed out, a civil war.
Cornwallis takes a moment, then speaks simply.
Civility is a secondary virtue. It
is superseded by duty.
I understand, sir.
Tarleton salutes, yanks his reins, turning his horse, and
EXT. SMALL FARMHOUSE - SUNSET
Tarleton lounges in the grass on a slope in front of a
farmhouse, looking out at a lovely sunset, absentmindedly
picking at the petals of some wildflowers. A HIDEOUS
SCREAM pierces the calm.
Tarleton analytically evaluates the tenor of the scream,
then rises, passing several Green Dragoons who wait with
their horses in front of the farmhouse.
I believe they are almost ready.
IN THE FARMHOUSE
Blood is smeared on one wall, where half-a-dozen corpses
lie in a jumbles mass on the floor.
In the parlor, Tarleton walks past more bodies, including
a dead woman who lies protectively but ineffectually over
the bloody bodies of her two young children, both under
In the kitchen, Tarleton finds Wilkins, some Green
Dragoons, and Gaskins, the Loyalist Militia commander and
some of his low-life men.
Rob Fielding, one of the craftsmen in Marion's force, is
tied, spread-eagle to the table, showing the terrible
effects of PROTRACTED TORTURE. Wilkins and Gaskins are
nervous and apologetic as Tarleton walks into the room.
I'm sorry, sir. He died.
Tarleton sighs, irritated.
Very well, get one of the others.
Gaskins and a couple of his men step into an attached
woodshed where Billings sits, bound. They roughly grab
him and drag him into the kitchen.
Damn your eyes. Do your worst.
I intend to.
They tie Billings to the table.
INT. SMALL FARMHOUSE - DAY
Silence. A tiny rivulet of blood runs along a plank in
the floor, disappearing into a gap between two
Marion, Dalton, Rev. Oliver, and several other men walk
slowly through the farmhouse, in stunned silence.
Marion sees the body of the mother, draped over her two
young children. Marion turns to Rev. Oliver who can only
stare, offering no solace.
They pass Fielding's body, then enter the kitchen and see
BILLINGS, DEAD, still tied to the table. Marion reels.
EXT. SMALL FARMHOUSE - DAY
Marion's men dig graves. Marion watches. Dalton steps up
next to him.
You still want me to give wounded
Marion doesn't answer. Gabriel GALLOPS up. He reins back
his lathered horse and speaks to them without dismounting.
Tarleton has a list of our men, most
are on it. A regiment of dragoons
is going to the homes on the list,
burning them, killing whomever
resists, women and children, as
Seven homes along the Black River so
Rollins doesn't pause. He rushes to his horse, mounts up
and rides off. Marion and the other men mount up and ride
off fast after him.
EXT. BLACK RIVER ROAD - DAY
Marion his brigade catch up to Rollins and ride on with
EXT. ROLLINS' FARM - DAY
The small farm seen earlier, surrounded by hills, where
the two boys, Rollins' sons ran down the hillside to catch
a glimpse of the passing Marion and his brigade.
The house smolders. No sign of life. Gabriel, Abner and
a few other men warily ride the perimeter of the cleared
area around the house.
Marion, at the head of the rest of the brigade, waits next
to an increasingly frantic, Rollins. They see Gabriel
wave, signaling all clear.
MARION, ROLLINS AND THE OTHER MEN RIDE to the house.
Rollins is the first to see THE BODIES. Horrified, he
reins back and dismounts, almost falling.
His TWO SONS, WIFE, an OLDER MAN and WOMAN, lie dead in
the dirt. Marion's men silently watch Rollins' agony.
Weeping and confused, he moves in a mad, staccato manner,
as if he were a marionette, whose strings were being
jerked by a drunken puppeteer.
Marion and Rev. Oliver dismount and move toward him.
Rollins sees them coming. He hardens and strides to his
horse, pulling his FLINTLOCK PISTOL from his saddle
Rev. Oliver reaches out to embrace Rollins.
It's not time for vengeance, it's
time to mourn and...
ROLLINS PUTS THE PISTOL TO HIS HEAD AND PULLS THE TRIGGER,
BLOWING HIS BRAINS OUT.
Every man freezes in place. For a long moment no one
moves, no one speaks. Then Marion pulls himself together
and addresses the men:
Five day furlough for all men.
Abner, Dan, Reverend, spread the
word. We'll reform at Acworth. Any
man who doesn't come back won't be
thought a coward or uncommitted to
the cause. Attend to your families.
The men mount up. Marion and Gabriel ride off together.
EXT. PEMBROKE - NIGHT
Marion scans the night as Gabriel and Anne mount up. The
three of them ride off, pulling a line of horses, some
heavily loaded packhorses and some saddled but empty
EXT. SHACK - SHANTY TOWN - NIGHT
Dark. Quiet. Gabriel and Anne wait in the shadows while
Marion cocks his musket, checks his pistols and walks
slowly toward the shack.
He warily checks every shadow. No one anywhere. Then a
SOUND -- A SQUEAL OF LAUGHTER, immediately followed by:
It's him! I told you it was him!
MARION'S CHILDREN RACE OUT OF THE SHADOWS to Marion. He's
practically bowled over as Margaret, Nathan, Samuel and
William fling themselves into his arms.
CHARLOTTE STEPS OUT OF THE SHADOWS, watching the reunion
as Marion covers the children with kisses, trying to hug
all of them at once as they cling to him as if they'll
never let go. MARION AND CHARLOTTE LOCK EYES over the
heads of the children.
Charlotte smiles. Then Marion notices SUSAN peeking out
from behind Charlotte's patched and mended skirt. He
kneels down and opens his arms to her but she doesn't
He smiles to her and speaks softly:
She looks coldly at Marion, tightens her grip on
Charlotte's skirt and retreats further behind her. Marion
looks to Charlotte who nods with guarded reassurance.
Then his attention is drawn away by the demanding embraces
of his other children.
EXT. CHERAW FALLS PATH - NIGHT
Marion rides, leading his children, Charlotte and Anne up
a steep, narrow path that cuts through a heavily wooded
EXT. CHERAW FALLS - NIGHT
The remains of a tiny abandoned backcountry farm. The
house is gone, leaving only an overgrown cellar hole.
Nearby is a barely-standing tobacco shed, one end of which
has fallen to the ground. A SOFT WIND WHISTLES AND
WHISPERS through the gaps in the rough-hewn boards of the
Marion rides up to the edge of the clearing. A
MOCKINGBIRD SCREECHES nearby, startling him. He looks
back at the children, worried, anticipating a negative
reaction. Margaret smiles and turns to the other
children, speaking for Marion's benefit.
I told you, things would get better.
The children smile and dismount.
INT. TOBACCO SHED - NIGHT
POURING RAIN. The ceiling drips. Marion lies, awake,
with his children huddled against him, sleeping in one of
the few dry spots. They're covered with tattered quilts.
On the other side of the children, Charlotte is also
awake. She and Marion exchange a long, silent look in the
darkness, over the heads of the sleeping children.
EXT. WATERFALL OVERLOOK - DAY
Marion walks the perimeter of their encampment with Nathan
and Samuel. They listen carefully.
The overlook, up there should be
where you post the watch. Work out
a schedule. Short watches,
especially at night.
If you can catch some of those
mockingbirds you can make cages and
put them along there for alarms.
(motioning for them
Now let's find someplace to cache
They follow Marion like soldiers.
EXT. CHERAW FALLS - DAY
Marion sits on a rock while Margaret cuts his hair. She
takes her time, touching him on the head and shoulders,
extending the process. Marion, sits back, enjoying it.
He notices Susan, nearby, watching silently. He smiles.
She turns away.
EXT. TOBACCO SHED - CHERAW FALLS - DAY
Dark. Shafts of light shine in through the holes in the
roof. Marion, standing in the shadows, senses someone
coming. He freezes.
A figure rounds the corner. It's... William. MARION
YELLS William SQUEALS IN DELIGHT, then chases his father
around the corner, tagging him. They laugh. Marion
covers his eyes and William dashes off to hide.
EXT. CHERAW FALLS - RIVERSIDE - DAY
Marion sits on the side of the river with Susan who avoids
looking at him. Using the knife we've seen him use in
battle he cuts slices off an apple and eats them.
Very good. Sweet.
He cuts a slice and offers it to her. She doesn't take
it. He puts the slice between them. After a long moment
she picks it up but as she's about to eat it, she stops,
seeing something on it. She puts it back.
Marion looks at the apple slice and sees a dark red
splotch on it. He looks at his knife and realizes that
it's dried blood.
Off-balance, he turns to Susan who stares straight ahead,
a thousand miles from Marion.
EXT. CHERAW FALLS RIVER - DAY
Marion washes the knife carefully, almost obsessively.
Anne steps up behind him.
May I ask you a question?
Marion finishes with the knife and puts it away without
Yes, of course.
She speaks with a sly, withheld smile.
Do you think Frances with an "e" is
too manly a name for a girl?
Do you think Francis with an "i" is
too womanly a name for a boy?
Anne smiles and walks away. Marion figures out what she
just told him.
Marion laughs at the thought.
EXT. CHERAW FALLS - DAY
Marion's children swim and play with the two Great Danes
in the pond at the base of the falls, along with Gabriel
and Anne. Marion and Charlotte sit on the bank, watching
Charlotte turns and looks at Marion for a long moment.
He's unaware. As Charlotte looks at him, her smile
disappears, replaced by anger. She snaps at Marion.
I'm not my sister.
Startled, Marion turns to Charlotte.
I said, I'm not my sister.
I know that.
Of course, I do.
Very well, then.
She turns from him. Marion, tries to figure out what just
happened. After a long moment he gets it. Stunned at
first, his gears turn. After a very thoughtful moment he
turns to Charlotte and offers a tentative smile. She
rolls her eyes.
EXT. CHERAW FALLS - NIGHT
Dark. A full moon shines.
INT. TOBACCO SHED - NIGHT
Marion wakes. He looks across his sleeping children and
sees that Charlotte isn't in her place on the other side
of them. He rises and walks out into the night.
EXT. GLEN - CHERAW FALLS - NIGHT
Marion walks into the glen. He tenses, sensing someone in
front of him. Then he sees CHARLOTTE AT THE EDGE OF THE
WOODS. Neither one speaks...
They walk silently to each other. They stop, looking at
each other closely, as if seeing one another for the first
Only then do they kiss. The kiss grows more passionate...
then much more passionate...
EXT. CHERAW FALLS - DAY
Marion finishes tying his gear onto his horse. The
children are silent. He stands beside his horse. One
after another, the children walk to him and embrace him --
Nathan, Samuel, Margaret, William.
He sees Susan, standing next to Charlotte. He motions to
her but she doesn't move. Then he kneels down and gently
Just a little goodbye? One word?
That's all I want to hear.
Susan remains silent, standing with her arms at her sides,
not responding to the embrace.
Finally, Marion lets go of her. She just stares at him.
Marion stands and turns to Charlotte.
They embrace. Though the hug is chaste, their eyes tell a
different story. Only Anne and Margaret notice, but to
them it's as clear as a bell. They exchange a knowing
Marion and Charlotte break apart, self-consciously.
Marion and Gabriel mount up and start to ride away. As
they're about to round a curve and disappear, SUSAN CRIES
With halting steps, then faster and faster, she runs down
the path toward Marion.
Papa, don't go, I'll say anything.
Marion stops, turning in his saddle to see Susan running
after him, her eyes filled with tears.
Please, Papa, I'll say anything you
Marion yanks his reins, turning his horse.
Just tell me what to say! Tell me
what to say!
Marion spurs his horse straight toward her, GALLOPING
toward the running, crying child.
Please, Papa, please don't go.
MARION RIDES TOWARD HER...
Charlotte, Anne and Marion's children watch as:
MARION LEANS OVER IN THE SADDLE without slowing down...
SWOOPING HER INTO HIS LAP...
She sits astride the saddle, facing him, her arms wrapped
around him, pleading, the words tumbling from her, as fast
as she can get them out...
... I'll talk to you, I'll say
anything you want, just tell me what
you want me to say, I'll say
anything, I promise, please, Papa,
Marion envelopes the sobbing wisp of a girl, holding her,
letting her cry, fighting his own tears...
He reins back the horse, stopping in front of the
He pleadingly looks to Charlotte who steps up to the
horse... to take Susan...
Marion gives Susan a final embrace, and covers her face
I'll come back... I promise...
Marion hands the still crying Susan down to Charlotte...
Marion, in agony, averts his eyes, yanks his reins, and
spurs his horse...
As he rides away the children take off after him, running.
Susan seeing the others running after Marion, struggles
out of Charlotte's arms, and runs after them as well...
Marion rides, now joined by Gabriel, faster and faster,
leaving a trail of dust...
The children slow, then stop, one after another, watching
as they ride away.
EXT. PATRIOT ENCAMPMENT - ACWORTH - EVENING
Grim. The most rudimentary of the encampments we've seen.
Rain pours. Some of Marion's men huddle under lean-to's
and quickly rigged tents that offer only partial
protection from the cold rain.
Abner and Scott do their best to keep a wet-wood fire
going. Rev. Oliver tries to cook.
Marion and Gabriel ride up and dismount. Marion joins
How many came back?
About a hundred and twenty. Less
than a third.
Marion nods. He and Gabriel join some of the men under
one of the lean-to's.
EXT. RIVERSIDE - DAY
The rain has stopped. The ground is still wet. It's
spring. The first buds are on the maple trees. A fox
tentatively comes out of its winter den, followed by a
pair of pups.
Marion stands on the side of a river, looking up at a
chevron of Canadian geese flying north.
EXT. PEMBROKE - DAY
The Canadian Geese fly over Anne who is behind her
father's store, tying food and provisions to a couple of
packhorses. A mare and a foal cavort in a nearby paddock.
Suddenly Anne senses someone behind her and turns to see
HALF-A DOZEN REDCOATS. She's initially frightened but the
REDCOAT SERGEANT, speaks politely.
Excuse me, Ma'am, everyone has been
requested to gather at the church.
Colonel Tarleton wants to address,
the whole village.
The Redcoat Sergeant deferentially motions for Anne to
follow him and his men. She sees several other
townspeople, with Redcoat escorts, already heading down
the street. She follows along.
EXT. PEMBROKE VILLAGE SQUARE - DAY
Tarleton and Wilkins, on horseback, watch as a large,
mixed detachment of Green Dragoons and Redcoat Infantry
directs the villagers into the church.
One of the Redcoats walks out of the general store with a
bowl of gumdrops. As he starts giving them to a few of
the children their parents waver, unsure of the gesture,
but they reluctantly allow the children to take the candy.
The townspeople are uneasy but they follow the orders of
the Redcoats who, though carry muskets, are polite and
Into the church, please.
Colonel Tarleton wishes to address
all of you.
Tarleton sees the last of the townspeople enter the
church. He nods to the Redcoats near the door.
The Redcoats CLOSE THE DOORS, chaining them shut. The
DOOR IS POUNDED ON from the inside.
Open this door!
By what right are we made prisoners?
TARLETON NODS TO GASKINS who, along with several rough-
looking LOYALIST MILITIAMEN, disappear into the blacksmith
shop. They reappear a moment later with FLAMING TORCHES
and approach the church.
Several Redcoats see what's about to happen and are
appalled. Even some of the Green Dragoons, including
Wilkins, are troubled. Wilkins rides over to Tarleton.
Gaskins and the Loyalist Militia stop around the church,
torches ready, waiting for the final go-ahead from
Tarleton. The POUNDING AND CALLING from inside the church
Sir, there is no honor in this.
The honor is found in the end, not
the means. This will be forgotten.
The Redcoats turn to the Redcoat Officers. The Redcoat
officers turn to Wilkins, who struggles with himself.
Tarleton calmly watches Wilkins' distress.
Finally, Wilkins accepts it. Weakly steadying his horse,
he takes his place next to Tarleton.
The Redcoats and Dragoons follow his lead and watch as
Gaskins and the Loyalist Militiamen light the church on
fire, heaving their torches onto the roof, through the
windows and under the raised foundation.
SCREAMS are heard from inside. The DOOR THUDS with the
shoulders of men trying to escape. The CHAINS HOLD.
As the FLAMES RISE, another group of Loyalist Militiamen
and some Redcoats drag half-a-dozen young women out of a
Among the women, desperately pleading, kicking and
screaming, is ANNE...
The men drag her and the other women into the livery
Tarleton watches them carried off, stone-faced...
Then he turns and watches the church go up in FLAMES...
A WINDOW SHATTERS, with a chair heaved from inside...
SOME MEN TRY TO CLIMB OUT, but waiting Redcoats FIRE THEIR
MUSKETS POINT BLANK...
KILLING THREE MEN, driving the others back...
The SCREAMS FROM INSIDE THE CHURCH grow louder...
The FLAMES AND SMOKE RISE...
EXT. WOODS - PEMBROKE OUTSKIRTS - DAY
SILENCE. A dark forest of old growth trees. No
underbrush. Marion and a couple dozen of his men,
including Gabriel, Rev. Oliver, and Dalton ride warily on
a carpet of pine needles toward a thin column of smoke,
visible over the treetops in the distance.
With hand signals, Marion directs his men to fan out.
They do so, weaving through the dark forest, weapons
EXT. PEMBROKE - DAY
Marion and his men slowly ride into Pembroke. The remains
of the church smolder only slightly. The town is
deserted, no one, dead or alive, is visible.
Unsure what they have found, Marion and his men spread out
and dismount, warily checking out the buildings, looking
for some sign of life.
Rev. Oliver and a few other men head for the charred
remains of the church.
Side-stepping some still-hot, charred beams, Rev. Oliver
looks through the rubble...
Then he sees the bodies...
THE CAMERA CATCHES ONLY A FLEETING GLIMPSE of...
Dozens of charred, blackened bodies, intertwined with the
remains of the church...
Rev. Oliver staggers from the rubble...
The other men see what he has seen...
One-by-one Marion and his men walk over and look into the
remains of the church...
Marion see several charred hands extended through a
shattered window, as if grasping for escape... one of the
hands is tiny, A CHILD'S HAND...
Marion is stunned...
No one says a word...
Dalton and a few of the other men continue the search,
They step into the livery stable, then walk out a moment
later, ashen faced...
Dalton speaks quietly to Marion, motioning toward an
increasingly frantic Gabriel who has just found Anne's
Gabriel notices the gesture, he watches Marion walk into
the livery stable... Growing more nervous by the second,
Gabriel hurries after his father...
As Gabriel gets to the entrance of the livery stable,
Marion walks out and intercepts him.
Don't go in there.
Is it her? Is Anne in there?
She is. Don't go in there.
Gabriel understands... he reels... growing faint... Marion
grabs him... keeping him from falling...
Marion holds Gabriel who begins to weep...
EXT. PEMBROKE - DAY
Marion's men, led by Rev. Oliver, tend to the dead. Some
dig in the small graveyard adjacent to the remains of the
church. Others carry out the grim task of pulling the
charred bodies out of the rubble.
ON THE EDGE OF TOWN
Marion sits alone. Gabriel walks up behind him.
Father, tell me what happened at
You know what happened.
No, I don't.
Everyone knows. It's what made me a
hero. Me, Harry Lee, all of us. I
got a medal. Men bought me drinks.
They still do sometimes. Everyone
knows what happened.
Tell me what everyone doesn't know.
And what do they know?
That the French and Cherokees
captured the fort and when you
retook it, you took revenge on them
for what they did during the
That's not enough. Tell me.
Your mother asked me the same
question around the time you were
born. I was drunk and I was foolish
enough to answer her.
Marion shakes his head to himself.
That's why it was four years between
you and Thomas. It took me that
long to regain her respect.
I'm not my mother. I can't have the
respect without the knowing.
Marion's quiet for a moment. Then he speaks:
It was in '63. It was a bad time.
The French and the Cherokee had
raided along the Blue Ridge. All
the English settlers took refuge at
Fort Wilderness but the French
captured it. We were sent in
relief. Harry Lee, Billings, sixty
of us. We already had something of
a reputation for being... harsh.
When we got there the fort was
abandoned. Not a French soldier or
Cherokee anywhere. They had left a
week earlier. What we found was...
Marion grows quieter with the memory of how bad.
They had left the settlers there.
The men had been burned alive, the
women were in pieces and the
children were on stakes.
Marion's silent for a moment.
We buried them, then we went to
track. It was a cold trail and they
were moving fast. We went faster.
We caught up to them at Kentucky
We took our time with them and gave
every one of them worse than they
had given at the fort. It was two
weeks before they were all dead, all
except two. We put the heads on a
pallet and had the two we let live
take it to the French at Fort
The eyes, fingers and tongues we put
in a basket and sent that down the
Asheulot to the Cherokee.
The French stayed east of the Blue
Ridge after that and the Cherokee
broke their treaty with the French
and stayed out of the fight.
That seemed to make a difference.
The war went another year, things
went better... and men bought us
Gabriel is silent. Marion looks at him closely.
It was a different time, son. And
you're a better man than that.
I see, do as I say, not as I do.
They hear HORSES HOOVES. Abner rides in from the opposite
side of the village from the church, not having seen the
results of the massacre. Excited, he dismounts.
THEY'RE HERE! CONTINENTALS, THEY'RE
Marion and Gabriel just look at him. Abner is confused by
their reaction. Then he sees the remains of the church
and the laid out, charred bodies.
EXT. PATRIOT ENCAMPMENT - NIGHT
Mixed gatherings of Marion's militia and Continentals are
clustered around the campfires, with more Continentals
arriving all the time.
Some of the militiamen and regulars regale each other with
tales of their exploits but most are grim and tired,
A couple of Patriots play a MELANCHOLY TUNE ON FIFE AND
Marion's tent is set up but he's nowhere to be seen.
Gabriel walks to Marion's gear. Finding Marion's weapon's
belt he opens one of the bullet pouches and finds the
paint-flecked MUSKET BALLS MADE FROM THOMAS' LEAD
SOLDIERS. As Gabriel takes one, Marion steps up behind
If this war is about more than
Thomas, it's about more than Anne,
as well. Stay the course.
As you did at Fort Wilderness?
Before Marion can answer they see HARRY LEE RIDE UP TO
THEM. He dismounts, excited, voluble. He strides over,
pleased to see Marion, oblivious to his and Gabriel's
Look at you! I knew you could do
Lee laughs, picks up a bottle and takes a big pull.
We have a chance! Better than a
chance! Cornwallis is running to
the Chesapeake, probably to meet his
fleet at Yorktown. I wish I could
see his face when he sees a dozen
French ships floating there. And
Washington should be a day or two
And on top of everything, I have a
son! Born last month in Alexandria.
Gabriel rises and walks away. Lee finally tunes into the
pall hanging over Marion and the just departed Gabriel.
He turns to Marion.
His wife was killed yesterday. She
was with child.
I'm sorry, I didn't know.
Marion nods. They stand in silence. Lee hands Marion the
bottle. He takes a drink.
EXT. ENCAMPMENT - NIGHT
Dark. Quiet. Sentries are on duty. Marion's tent glows
from a single candle. He blows the candle out, then steps
out of the tent into the night.
He begins his nightly walk of the perimeter.
Almost immediately, Marion notices something amiss.
Dalton has discovered it at the same time and hurries over
AT ONE OF THE CAMPSITES
Marion and Dalton and several of the other men look down
at some empty bedrolls.
Gabriel and at least a dozen others.
They must have left right after the
That means they have two hours on
Marion strides to his horse. The other men follow him.
EXT. WOODED ROAD - NIGHT
Marion, Dalton and Rev. Oliver and two dozen other men
EXT. WOODED ROAD - NIGHT
Dark. Very quiet. A moonless night. Marion and his men,
on foot, make their way along the side of the river.
Brother Joseph hurries out of the darkness and speaks to
Fifty Green Dragoons, camped about a
quarter mile from here. Sentries at
Suddenly they hear the SOUNDS OF MUSKETS FIRE ahead of
them in the darkness. Marion takes off at a full run with
his men right behind.
EXT. OUTSKIRTS OF GREEN DRAGOON ENCAMPMENT - NIGHT
Marion and his men BLAST THROUGH THE BRUSH. Running
toward the SOUNDS OF THE BATTLE, which grows louder with
Marion cocks his pistol and extracts his tomahawk on the
The LIGHTS OF THE BATTLE: The STROBES OF THE MUSKET SHOTS
illuminate the woods ahead of them...
Moving fast, they PASS TWO DEAD BRITISH SENTRIES, without
THEY BLAST OUT OF THE WOODS into...
THE CLEARING, seeing a tableau of TOTAL CHAOS:
Half-dressed GREEN DRAGOONS in formation FIRE IN
Running men. Scattered MUSKET FIRE.
The strobes of the muskets illuminate RUNNING MEN and
other men in HAND-TO-HAND COMBAT.
WILKINS IS IN COMMAND. Tarleton is nowhere to be seen.
Gabriel and Abner, both slightly wounded, fight a
desperate holding action...
On the other side of the clearing, a square of Dragoons
forms near Wilkins.
The DRAGOONS FIRE A MASSED VOLLEY, hitting Gabriel, Abner
and several other Patriots.
GABRIEL, BADLY WOUNDED, falls to his knees...
The Dragoons pull their pistols about to fire again.
Marion and his men OPEN FIRE...
Marion sees Wilkins about to fire at Gabriel...
Sees another Redcoat about to fire at Gabriel...
MARION KILLS HIM with a pistol shot.
Wilkins cocks his flintlock pistol, aims at Gabriel...
MARION'S ABOUT TO THROW HIS TOMAHAWK... TOO LATE...
WILKINS FIRES... HITTING GABRIEL WHO FLIES BACKWARD...
Marion THROWS THE TOMAHAWK, sinking it into Wilkins'
The rest of Marion's men thunder into the Dragoons...
Marion races to Gabriel...
Throws himself onto the ground next to him...
Gabriel is stunned, confused by the wounds.
I'm alright, I...
He tries to stand...
Let me help you...
Gabriel weakens in Marion's arms... falters... Marion
watches the life drain from Gabriel... He tries to hold
the blood in, to no avail...
Dalton plants himself next to Marion, defending him and
Marion caresses Gabriel and watches as...
The life drains from Marion. No anger. Only pain. He
looks at Gabriel, lost in a dream, an incomprehensible
nightmare of loss and overwhelming emptiness.
EXT. CLEARING - DAWN
Marion's men finish laying out the bodies of their dead.
The Dragoons are still where they fell. The Patriots are
laid out in a row, their faces covered by their coats.
Marion sits on the battlefield, next to Gabriel's body.
Dalton gingerly approaches him.
Marion slowly stands and picks up Gabriel's body, cradling
him like a child. They head off into the brush.
EXT. PATRIOT ENCAMPMENT - NIGHT
More Continentals have arrived, now outnumbering Marion's
men three-to-one. The encampment is active. A few of the
men drink and TALK LOUDLY. The two men playing the fife
and violin PLAY A MORE VIBRANT TUNE.
INT. MARION'S TENT - NIGHT
Dark. Shadowed. The sounds of celebration can be heard
outside the tent.
Marion sits on his camp chair. Gabriel lies on the ground
carefully covered up to his chin with a blanket. A single
Rev. Oliver enters the tent.
May I help you try to find solace
with the word of God?
Colonel, let us help his soul find
it's place with the Almighty and...
He looks as if he's sleeping,
Yes, he does.
Rev. Oliver pulls up a camp stool. He and Marion sit in
EXT. MARION'S ENCAMPMENT - MORNING
The Patriots, Continentals and Militia, are moving out.
Most of the tents have been taken down. Wagons are
rolling out. Companies of Continentals march off in good
MARION'S TENT still stands. His men finish packing up,
storing their heavy gear in wagons, tying their field gear
onto their horses.
IN THE TENT
Marion still sits. A FLY BUZZES. Gabriel's face has
taken on a deathly, ashen look.
Lee enters the tent. He's silent for a moment, then
speaks softly to Marion.
You have to bury him.
I'll help you bury him.
Lee moves toward Gabriel's body.
Don't touch him.
How many men have we seen die?
Two. Gabriel and Thomas.
They're gone. And there is nothing
you or I can do to bring them back.
But there is something you can do to
help end all this.
It is ended.
No. It's not over yet. Two days
ride, Yorktown, Virginia.
Washington, the French, Cornwallis
and Tarleton. It will end, one way
Francis, nothing will replace your
sons but helping us will justify
Marion doesn't respond. Lee waits for a long moment, then
he hears the SOUND OF THE DEPARTING TROOPS OUTSIDE THE
He looks at Marion, touches him on the shoulder and walks
EXT. PATRIOT ENCAMPMENT - DAY
The last of the soldiers move out, leaving their
smoldering campfires and refuse. The only tent that
remains is Marion's.
EXT. MARION'S TENT - DAY
Marion sits in his tent, gazing obliquely at Gabriel's
body which has grown even more ashen. A SOLITARY BIRD
CRIES in the distance.
EXT. WOODED ENCAMPMENT - NIGHT
A dark, moonless night. The sky is filled with stars. A
SOFT WIND BLOWS dead leaves along the ground. A few of
the leaves are blown through the opening of Marion's tent.
INSIDE THE TENT
Marion looks down, noticing the leaves, HEARING THE WIND.
He listens for a moment. Then he stands and walks out of
OUTSIDE THE TENT
Marion watches the leaves skittering along the ground. He
listens to the wind.
The HE LOOKS UP AT THE NIGHT SKY. The stars are bright.
His eyes are drawn to the Big Dipper and from there to the
Little Dipper and the...
Holding his eyes on the faint, but steady star, he
gradually reorients himself. He looks around at the
abandoned encampment. Then he looks into the tent and
sees Gabriel's body. The SOFT WIND BLOWS AROUND HIM.
Marion nods in response.
EXT. BURIAL GROUND - WOODED ENCAMPMENT - MORNING
Marion finishes burying Gabriel, putting the last
shovelfuls of dirt on the freshly turned earth. He stands
next to the grave, looking down, and says a silent prayer.
EXT. YORKTOWN ROAD - DAY
The AMERICAN FORCES are on the move, all heading in the
same direction. Continentals and militiamen fill the
road. Some on horseback, others in wagons, most on foot.
Among them, a mixed unit of Continentals and Marion's
brigade, at the head of which ride Lee, Dalton, Abner and
Behind them, a single horseman rides up. It's MARION.
Without speaking, Marion rides up alongside Lee. They
Marion rides between Dalton on one side and Rev. Oliver on
the other. They pass a sign that reads, "Yorktown. 20
EXT. YORKTOWN OVERLOOK - DAY
The road to Yorktown skirts an OVERLOOK with a view of the
town and the harbor. A few dozen arriving Patriots have
stopped to look out at the view. Marion, Lee, Rev. Oliver
and Dalton join them.
The French Fleet is visible in the harbor. The British
encampments are on a pair of peninsulas, one jutting out
from land, the other jutting toward the land from a large
island. In a semi-circle around the landward peninsula,
the beginnings of the Patriot encirclement are visible.
It's a grand and impressive sight.
Marion and the others turn their horses and head down the
road toward the American lines.
EXT. YORKTOWN ENCAMPMENT - DAY
AN INTERMITTENT EXCHANGE OF CANNON FIRE. Not a battle,
but pre-battle pot shots. Behind the American
embattlements, hundreds of American and French soldiers
drill, make camp and build secondary fortifications.
MARION, stands behind a barricade, trying to get a view of
the British defenses. A RUNNER, a boy about fifteen,
dashes up to Marion.
You called for me, sir?
Marion reaches into his pocket and pulls out a single
WALNUT which he hands to the boy.
Take this to General Washington.
The boy looks at the walnut and then looks at Marion as if
he's joking or crazy. He's neither. The boy shrugs and
runs off with the walnut.
EXT. WASHINGTON'S HEADQUARTERS - YORKTOWN
Staff officers. Flags. Tents. French and American
officers look over maps and sort out dispatches.
Messengers, runners and dispatch riders come and go
The flap of the central HQ tent opens and GEORGE
WASHINGTON steps out, followed by a pair of AIDES.
Washington is tall and powerfully-built, an imposing man,
worthy of respect.
He looks around and sees the awe-struck, slightly confused
messenger boy, waiting nearby.
Washington, holding the walnut in his hand, motions him
Did you bring me this?
Washington scribbles something on a piece of paper and
hands it to the boy.
Take this to Colonel Marion.
The boy runs off. Washington smiles.
EXT. PATRIOT ENCAMPMENT - DAY
CAMERA FOLLOWS Marion walking through the chaos of the
encampment. He walks to the cluster of tents around
Washington's HQ. He nods to the officer in charge.
Colonel Francis Marion.
Washington, leaning over the maps on his campaign table,
hears the voice and turns around. The officers nearby
stop and watch, curious.
MARION AND WASHINGTON
Step up to one another, looking each other in the eye.
To the astonishment of Washington's officers, Marion
reaches up and lifts off Washington's wig, looking at his
hair underneath. Marion shakes his head.
Washington holds out a small bag to Marion who reaches in
and pulls out a walnut.
Come. I have something I want to
Washington turns to his staff officers.
Washington and Marion walk off with Washington's officers
and aides.As Washington and Marion walk, they both CRUSH
THE WALNUTS SHELLS BETWEEN THEIR THUMBS AND FOREFINGERS, a
prodigious display of strength that both men take for
granted. They eat walnuts as they walk.
EXT. YORKTOWN HILLTOP - DAY
Washington's officers who include HARRY LEE, COLONEL
ALEXANDER HAMILTON, LAFAYETTE, GENERAL PINKNEY, and
various other aides and junior officers reach the crest of
the hill and wait for Washington and Marion who trail a
bit behind them, talking privately, eating walnuts as they
While they wait, the officers look out at the view, seeing
the PUFFS OF SMOKE OF INTERMITTENT CANNON FIRE.
WASHINGTON AND MARION
Finish the walnuts. They stop for a moment to catch their
I was sorry to hear about your son.
I lost another a year ago, Thomas.
He was only fifteen.
I've had no sons to lose, nor
I lose the sons of other men.
They look out at the vista, knowing that they're looking
at the sons of thousands and thousands of other men.
Life was easier when we only had
ourselves to get killed.
They walk on, joining the others on the crest of the hill.
The officers are looking out, some with spyglasses, at
the British emplacements.
Gentlemen, what do we see?
Mortars, center, with two lines of
More along the right flank and
behind the forward redoubts.
A formidable defensive position.
They could hold out for weeks.
Washington nods and turns to Marion.
Francis, tell me about General
Proud, priggish and competent. A
very bad combination in an
For those of you who don't know, we
intercepted a British dispatch this
morning. General Clinton has sailed
from New York to relieve Cornwallis.
That hits Washington's officers hard.
How long before they arrive?
Less than a week. Sixteen ships and
over nine thousand Redcoats.
Sooner or later that message will
get through to Cornwallis.
And when it does, he'll just wait us
And when the British ships arrive,
the French ships will flee. And
when the French ships flee, General
Rochambeau and the French troops
will flee as well.
Marion speaks up.
Then you must let the message go
They all turn to Marion, most of them looking at him as if
If Cornwallis receives news that
Clinton is coming, he'll simply hold
tight and wait. He'll fight a
purely defensive battle and he'll
No, he won't. There are two things
you need to know about Cornwallis.
First, he is a very proud man, He
would rather risk defeat than share
If you give him what he thinks is an
out, he'll take it.
And what is the second thing?
Marion pulls Cornwallis' journal out of his haversack and
leafs through it.
I'll let him tell you himself...
"... but it is this colonial militia
that is the most irksome. Not
worthy of my attention, but
demanding it; not worthy of British
blood, but taking it; and not worthy
of a soldier's honor, but sullying
it. Those nights of mine that are
not sleepless, are filled with
dreams of a cavalry charge on the
heels of fleeing farmers..."
Marion closes the journal.
He has no respect for citizen
soldiers. That's your bait...
Washington nods, considering it.
EXT. CORNWALLIS' HEADQUARTERS - YORKTOWN - EVENING
Under fire. Cornwallis and his staff. Major Halbert
strides in and gives Cornwallis a dispatch.
Sir, a dispatch from General Clinton
made it through the rebel lines.
Cornwallis takes the dispatch and reads it. It staggers
him. He sits down.
Cornwallis fumes. His jaw sets with anger. He slowly
crumples the dispatch and speaks with quiet fury.
Call a general staff meeting.
EXT. YORKTOWN - PRE-DAWN
Marion stands at the American battlements, looking out at
the British defensive works. Above him, stars are
visible, but they're fading in the light of the pre-dawn
glow from the horizon.
Marion scans the disappearing stars, searching out the
NORTH STAR, but in the increasingly harsh light of this
day, he can't find it. He turns his eyes back to the
EXT. YORKTOWN BATTLEFIELD - DAY
The sun has risen but a heavy ground fog limits visibility
to a few dozen yards. Men move like ghosts.
THE CAMERA finds waiting squadrons of men but in the mist.
There is no overview, just separate detachments:
An orderly regiment of CONTINENTAL CAVALRY, mounted,
waiting, steadying their horses.
Two long lines of CONTINENTAL INFANTRY RESERVES...
An American Command, including Washington, LaFayette and
two dozen staff officers, attended by riders and
And, finally, MARION AND HIS MEN, who stand in the middle
of a long line of Patriot militia in the center of a long,
They stand silently, unable to see anything other than
each other and the gently slope of the dew-covered grass
in front of them.
They're all grim. They know what's coming.
Then, the SOUND OF A SINGLE DRUM, heard but unseen, coming
from over the slope...
Then, MORE DRUMS, more and more, A COMPETITION OF DRUM
Marion's men listen, turning their heads, trying to
imagine what is happening on the other side of the rise in
front of them.
MARION MOTIONS FOR HIS OFFICERS, Dalton, Scott, Rev.
Oliver and several other Patriot militia officers from
other units. They quickly gather around.
The British army believes in
officers. I believe in soldiers.
After we engage, there will be no
more orders. Every man here must
know what I'm about to tell you.
They listen closely.
We are the bait in a trap. We're
militia. Cornwallis thinks we're
rabble, nothing more than a bunch of
undisciplined farmers. And if he
thinks that's what we are, that's
what we're going to give him.
They gather around closer.
EXT. BRITISH LINES - DAY
Cornwallis, surrounded by his staff officers, including
Tarleton, stands on a low hill, trying, with the aid of a
spyglass to catch the first view of the battlefield as the
morning mist begins to burn off.
Through the fog, he just makes out the American lines. He
turns to Tarleton who also peers through a spyglass.
Do you see that, Colonel?
Unless I'm dreaming, I think I see
irregulars at their center.
Cornwallis and Tarleton exchange a pleased look.
EXT. LOW MEADOW - YORKTOWN - MORNING
Marion and his men wait.
A STRANGE SOUND. Soft, muted. The men turn their heads,
listening, their eyes shifting.
They hear the SOUND OF THOUSANDS OF BOOTS ON WET GRASS,
THE CAMERA WATCHES THE FACES OF MARION AND HIS MEN as they
listen to an unseen army approaching.
ON MARION'S FACE we see him hearing every sound and we see
FLASH CUTS of what he knows he's hearing:
The BOOTS OF THE UNSEEN SOLDIERS...
Shouldered muskets CLICKING against pack buckles...
SILENCE at a stop...
The men around Marion wait.
THEN, THEY SEE IT...
A MASSIVE WALL OF RED appears over the rise in front of
Thousands of Redcoats, in perfect formation, marching in
lockstep, straight for them.
Marion sees the fear on his men's faces, but none of them
The BRITISH DRUMS GROW LOUDER AND LOUDER... it's almost
enough to drive a man to flight... almost.
The CAMERA explores the faces of Marion's men, faces that
we know, Rev. Oliver, Scott, Abner, Marion. All are
frightened but all are motionless.
Closer and closer, the British line approaches...
The American's don't move...
Then, the BRITISH LINE STOPS...
At a flurry of commands, the Redcoats ready their muskets,
Still, Marion and the Americans don't move...
Then, a single, thin voice calls out from the British
IN A THUNDEROUS, MASSIVE VOLLEY, three thousand British
muskets fire simultaneously... just as the entire line of
AMERICAN MILITIAMEN DIVE TO THE GROUND...
Many Americans are saved by the move but many, many others
are torn apart by the British musketballs...
THE AMOUNT OF SMOKE IS INCREDIBLE... it obscures
everything. Each musket spits out a billow of think white
smoke a dozen feet in front of it and three thousand of
them just fired. The massive, opaque white cloud quickly
spreads over the entire battlefield.
The astonished Redcoats instantly reload...
And watch as the Americans rise in DISORDERLY PANIC and
Some Redcoats laugh...
ON A RISE BEHIND THE BATTLEFIELD, CORNWALLIS, watches
through his spyglass, trying to get a sense of what's
happening before the spreading cloud of musket smoke
He barks to his SIGNALMAN...
Fix bayonets... dispatch the Green
The Signalman raises his semaphore flags and snaps the
MARION AND HIS MEN are caught in the middle of the chaotic
THE BRITISH LINE advances at a quickstep, bayonets
From behind them, THE GREEN DRAGOONS appear, at a full
gallop, Tarleton at their head...
It's an astonishing sight... total madness... hell... a
painting by Hieronymous Bosch...
The mass of the British infantry charges after the fleeing
The Redcoat infantry grows disorderly as it runs...
TARLETON AND THE BRITISH CAVALRY THUNDERS to the head of
the Redcoats, closing in on the fleeing Patriots. The
cavalry swords are drawn and raised for a slaughter...
Stepping into view from behind a low, grass covered rise,
a SOLID LINE OF BLUE APPEARS, rock solid...
It open up, allowing the fleeing Patriots to pass through
it like water...
then it closes again, becoming a solid blue wall...
MARION, HIS MEN AND THE ENTIRE MASS OF FLEEING MILITIA
STOPS DEAD, turns and joins the blue American line...
A flurry of orders, then the BLUE WALL ERUPTS WITH A
VOLLEY of musket fire that stops the disorderly British
advance in its tracks...
Hundreds of Redcoats fall instantly...
Hundreds of Green Dragoons and their horses fall with
The effect of the volley is devastating...'
The American timing is perfect...
Again, the amount of SMOKE is astonishing... visibility
drops to less than twenty feet in most places...
Drifting smoke opens up glimpses of the battle here and
there but it is primarily a battle of sound...
Men simply follow the men in front of them...
The Blue Continentals advance in an orderly manner from
both flanks onto the Redcoats, trapping them...
The Redcoats try to flee...
Fighting small, gathered holding actions...
MARION FIRES one of his pistols...
Draws his sword...
Slashes downward... killing one Redcoat after another...
No remorse, no hesitation, no pity...
A relentless, simple battle...
Slashing through the Redcoat infantry...
His sword sinks into the stock of an upraised British
musket and is pulled from his hands...
Marion quickly kills the Redcoat with his pistol...
THEN, THROUGH THE SMOKE, MARION CATCHES A GLIMPSE OF
Marion freezes... his eyes locked on Tarleton who is
fighting a pitched battle, making his way toward the
perimeter of the field, trying to escape back to the
Seeing nothing but Tarleton, Marion hurriedly tears open
his weapons pouch and pulls out one of the bullets made
from Thomas' lead soldiers...
As he loads the pistol, his eyes still trained on
Tarleton, Dalton runs up in the chaos...
COLONEL! OUR LINE!
Marion finishes reloading... distracted he turns to Dalton
for an instant...
OUR LINE IS FALTERING...
Marion takes a quick glance at the Continental line,
Scott, Rev. Oliver, Abner and a dozen more of his men, in
the middle of a confused battle, with a larger mass of
Redcoats who are advancing through the broken Continental
MARION IS TORN...
He looks to Tarleton, seeing him distracted, vulnerable
but too distant a target for the pistol...
Then Marion looks to Rev. Oliver and the others... Dalton
can't wait... he runs off...
Then he takes a last look at Tarleton and heads off to
help the faltering Patriots...
TARLETON sees the movement of Marion and his men and sees
Marion himself, his back exposed...
AT THE PATRIOT LINE...
Marion, Dalton and two dozen other militia cavalrymen
arrive at the same time, beating back the Redcoats...
As blue-uniformed Continentals reform the line, FIRING AT
THE FALTERING REDCOATS...
TARLETON sees Marion and fights his way toward him...
Marion is oblivious, concentrating on holding the American
Tarleton mounts a terrified, riderless horses, draws his
sword and gallops back toward the British lines, on a path
that takes him directly past Marion...
Tarleton gets closer... raises his sword... slashes...
Marion catches the flash of the blade out of the corner of
Diverts the blow, knocking Tarleton from the mount...
Tarleton hits the ground... Marion draws his pistol, about
to fire at Tarleton...
Tarleton KICKS OUT, knocking the pistol from Marion's
Tarleton GRABS HIS SWORD, SLASHES AT MARION who dodges the
Tarleton advances... Marion scrambles back, then rises...
Marion grabs a BROKEN CAVALRY LANCE and FENDS OFF REPEATED
BLOWS from Tarleton's SWORD...
Then Marion sees his pistol, loaded with a bullet from
Thomas' lead soldiers, lying on the ground...
Marion makes his way toward the weapon... still BLOCKING
BLOWS from Tarleton's sword...
Marion focuses on the pistol... leaving himself exposed...
Tarleton sees the OPENING... MOVES ON MARION... TARLETON
RAISES HIS SWORD, about to deliver the killing blow...
Marion dives... GRABS HIS PISTOL... FIRES... KILLING
TARLETON WITH A SHOT TO THE CHEST...
Marion, stunned, exhausted and surprised to be alive,
watches Tarleton fall...
Marion stands over Tarleton's body and gives himself a
moment of bitter triumph, then he turns back to the battle
Marion picks up Tarleton's sword and runs to the AMERICAN
LINE which stiffens as Dalton and Rev. Oliver are joined
by Marion and a dozen other Patriots...
The blue-uniformed Continentals reform their line...
Marion looks back toward Tarleton but finds that his body,
along with the place and the moment of his death, has
disappeared into the smoke of the battle...
Marion and his men fight on... then, Redcoats start
fleeing the field...
First one Redcoat at a time... then more and more...
EXT. YORKTOWN - DAWN
The next day. Silence. The battlefield, as far as the
eye can see, is covered with the debris of war, dead men
and scattered weapons.
The British have retreated back behind their defenses but
have left many of their men on the field.
The Patriots, regulars and militia, wait behind their
Then, a single figure appears on one of the British
parapets. A DRUMMER BOY, no more than ten-years-old.
Behind him, a single British officer.
They boy begins to beat the drum. The officer raises a
In the American lines, the men see the flag. Some call
out, some cheer, some laugh, most, among them MARION,
simply take a deep breath. It's finally over.
EXT. YORKTOWN FIELD - DAY
A massive ceremony, carefully orchestrated, laid out on
the cleaned up battlefield.
Thousands of men, everyone in his place, as if well-
directed actors in a grand theatrical performance.
The French and American armies, fifteen thousand men
between them, stand in perfect formation on either side of
the field, forming an avenue for the British army which
marches out of it's fortification.
At the head of the avenue, WASHINGTON AND HIS STAFF stand
A musical band of Continentals, thirty men strong, loudly
plays a tune, "The World Turned Upside Down," a jaunty
British air with a melancholy undercurrent.
CORNWALLIS marches with his officers, eyes straight ahead,
covering his agony as best he can.
As he walks along the avenue he passes the remnants of the
South Carolina militia.
MARION, standing with Dalton, Rev. Oliver, Abner, Scott
and the rest of his surviving men sees Cornwallis pass...
CORNWALLIS glances over, noting what unit they are by a
tattered battle standard that flies over them. It's only
a glance and he DOESN'T PICK OUT MARION, who is just one
man among the many...
AT THE HEAD OF THE AVENUE
Cornwallis reaches Washington. They exchange unheard
Cornwallis, DRAWS HIS SWORD AND HANDS IT TO WASHINGTON...
FIFTEEN THOUSAND MEN, American and French, RAISE THEIR
VOICES in a CHEER OF ASTONISHING VOLUME...
With every other pair of eyes directed toward the ceremony
between Washington and Cornwallis, MARION quietly and
unnoticed, slips out the back of the formation and walks
EXT. YORKTOWN - DAY
The surrender ceremony continues. Marion, on the fringe
of the field, finishes saddling his horses and prepares to
leave. LEE walks out of the crowd and joins him. They
lock eyes for a moment, then Marion mounts up.
Marion reaches down. They shake hands.
And congratulations on the birth of
Thank you. Maybe all of this will
buy him some peace.
I hope so.
As Marion starts to ride off, he reins back and stops,
speaking back to Lee over his shoulder.
Your son, what did you name him?
Robert. Robert E. Lee.
A good name for a farmer.
Lee nods. Marion rides off.
EXT. CHERAW FALLS - DAY
Marion's children and Charlotte sit by the river. Samuel
sits on the lookout ledge with his musket. Suddenly he
stands, looking out, seeing something.
Charlotte and the others notice. They're worried. Then
they see Samuel throw down his musket and tear down the
path, running as fast as he can, tumbling, then regaining
Charlotte and the others know who's coming...
The children take off running after Samuel...
Racing toward the road...
Charlotte hurries after them...
AND THEN THEY SEE HIM...
MARION, riding at a full gallop...
The children cry out with tears of joy...
MARION see Susan...
He gallops toward her...
Without slowing, he SWOOPS HER UP into the saddle...
She wraps herself around him...
He reins back, stops and dismounts, just as the other
children reach him...
They throw themselves into his arms... embracing him...
Charlotte hurries up behind them...
She and Marion lock eyes and he is enveloped by the hugs
of his children.
EXT. POND BLUFF - EVENING
Summer. The apple tree at the top of the hill is covered
Marion's house is partially rebuilt and habitable. The
workshop is already completed.
MARION'S CHILDREN, Nathan, Samuel, Margaret and William,
play in the tall grass in front of the house with the two
CHARLOTTE sits on the front porch, NURSING AN INFANT.
MARION walks out of his workshop, trailed by Susan. He
carries a just-completed rocking chair.
The chair is a work of art, thin and light, a spider-web
of perfectly turned wood, no nails, no glue.
He steps onto the porch next to Charlotte and places the
rocking chair next to her.
Two pounds, fourteen ounces.
He smiles and make a minute adjustment in the chair's
position. Then he sits down, settles back and begins
rocking. Not a creak.
Marion and Charlotte watch Susan run out of the yard,
calling as she joins the other children.
Wait for me...
As the CAMERA CRANES UP, Marion and Charlotte disappear
beneath the overhang of the porch roof. Suddenly, the
SOUND OF A CRASH.
The CAMERA CONTINUES TO CRANE UP as Marion walks off the
porch, crosses the yard and enters his workshop. A moment
later, the SOUND OF MARION'S LATHE RISES.