October 9, 1998
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 on.
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 feet.
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 wanting.
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 his jacket...
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 heads.
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' side.
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 mount up.
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 WHISTLE...
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 that:
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 peaceful.
Then, the SHADOWED FIGURES of THREE DOZEN GREEN DRAGOONS appear out of the mist, silently approaching the house on foot.
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 warmth.
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 underbrush...
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 faces.
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 AND OUTBUILDINGS.
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 FREEDMEN.
The conversation, which is out of the children's earshot, is testy, with one of the middle-aged freedmen particularly troubled.
Marion's stone-faced children look around, appraising their surroundings, registering the poverty of the shanty town.
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 quietly.
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 the church.
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 her parents.
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 off.
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 wait.
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 rides off.
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 eight-years-old.
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 floorboards.
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 him.
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 holster.
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.
Continue to 10/9/98 Draft Page 6
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