October 9, 1998
EXT. POND BLUFF - DAY
The house and barns smolder. Thomas' body lies in the yard. Nearby, the bodies of the Patriot wounded, now dead.
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 follow.
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 wind.
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 listens.
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 on.
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 into bed.
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 head.
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 speaks softly.
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 his neck.
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 burning farm.
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 is here.
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 metal.
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 talk.
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 stride in.
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 Cornwallis.
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 gather around.
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 and follows.
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 off.
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 several corporals.
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 wounded...
DALTON, notices a WOUNDED REDCOAT and pauses...
The Redcoat looks up imploringly at Dalton who finishes reloading, then coldly FIRES, KILLING THE helpless Redcoat...
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 RIVER.
BRITISH MUSKET BALLS SLAM into the trees and SPLINTER THE WAGONS...
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 colonial artisans.
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 dogs.
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 bottles.
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.
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