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The Patriot Film Fact or Fiction: Battles

Battle of Cowpens:
Before the unnamed battle in the movie, Benjamin Martin conceives of the tactics of placing the militia on the front line and retreating after two shots. He also goes around to the militia campfires on the night before the battle. Both of these are credited to Daniel Morgan at this batle. Morgan placed the militia under Andrew Pickens out front with instructions to fire two shots and then retreat behind the line of Continental regulars.

In the movie the Continental regulars and Colonel Burwell were waiting in reserve behind the rise, rather than retreating to that position during battle as really happened. After seeing the militia retreating, the British had broken discipline in anticipation of a rout, but when they came over the rise, they found themselves double-flanked. This all is pretty close to what happens in the movie.

After this point, unlike in the movie, Lt. Colonel Banastre Tarleton was now retreating and fighting to escape. In the movie Benjamin Martin had to grab a flag and rally the Patriots one last time before the tide finally turns. Though Colonel Tavington is killed at this battle, Tarleton survived the war and returned home to England.

Although some complain that the climactic unnamed battle shown in the film is a completely inaccurate interpretation of the Battle of Cowpens by the filmmakers, this is not so. First of all, the filmmakers admit that the second battle is not completely historically true to Cowpens or Guilford Courthouse, another battle from which they borrowed.

They used elements of Cowpens, Guilford Courthouse, as well as other dramatic additions (such as Martin's two flag charges). They purposely didn't name the battle in the movie, because of their use of dramatic license. Some elements of the battle are explained on the Guilford Courthouse page.

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