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The Patriot Resource - The Patriot

THE PATRIOT
by
Robert Rodat
October 9, 1998
Con't


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 the tent.

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...

NORTH STAR.

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 Rev. Oliver.

Behind them, a single horseman rides up. It's MARION. Without speaking, Marion rides up alongside Lee. They exchange nods.

Marion rides between Dalton on one side and Rev. Oliver on the other. They pass a sign that reads, "Yorktown. 20 miles."

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.

RUNNER
You called for me, sir?

Marion reaches into his pocket and pulls out a single WALNUT which he hands to the boy.

MARION
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 hurriedly.

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 over.

WASHINGTON
Did you bring me this?

RUNNER
Yes, sir.

Washington scribbles something on a piece of paper and hands it to the boy.

WASHINGTON
Take this to Colonel Marion.

RUNNER
Yes, sir.

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.

MARION
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.

MARION
Gray.

WASHINGTON
Earned.

Washington holds out a small bag to Marion who reaches in and pulls out a walnut.

WASHINGTON
Come. I have something I want to
show you.

Washington turns to his staff officers.

WASHINGTON
Gentlemen.

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 go.

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 breath.

WASHINGTON
I was sorry to hear about your son.

MARION
I lost another a year ago, Thomas.
He was only fifteen.

WASHINGTON
I've had no sons to lose, nor
daughters.
(beat)
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.

WASHINGTON
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.

WASHINGTON
Gentlemen, what do we see?

HAMILTON
Mortars, center, with two lines of
enfilading trenches.

PINKNEY
More along the right flank and
behind the forward redoubts.

LAFAYETTE
A formidable defensive position.
Very formidable.

HAMILTON
They could hold out for weeks.

Washington nods and turns to Marion.

WASHINGTON
Francis, tell me about General
Cornwallis.

MARION
Remember Braddock?

WASHINGTON
That bad?

MARION
Worse.

WASHINGTON
Proud, priggish and competent. A
very bad combination in an
adversary.

Washington sighs.

WASHINGTON
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.

HAMILTON
How long before they arrive?

WASHINGTON
Less than a week. Sixteen ships and
over nine thousand Redcoats.

LAFAYETTE
Sooner or later that message will
get through to Cornwallis.

PINKNEY
And when it does, he'll just wait us
out.

WASHINGTON
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.

MARION
Then you must let the message go
through.

They all turn to Marion, most of them looking at him as if
he's insane.

WASHINGTON
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
win that.

MARION
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
a victory.
(beat)
If you give him what he thinks is an
out, he'll take it.

WASHINGTON
And what is the second thing?

Marion pulls Cornwallis' journal out of his haversack and leafs through it.

MARION
I'll let him tell you himself...
(reading)
"... 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.

MARION
He has no respect for citizen
soldiers. That's your bait...
militia.

Washington nods, considering it.

EXT. CORNWALLIS' HEADQUARTERS - YORKTOWN - EVENING

Under fire. Cornwallis and his staff. Major Halbert strides in and gives Cornwallis a dispatch.

MAJOR HALBERT
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.

WILKINS
Sir?

Cornwallis fumes. His jaw sets with anger. He slowly crumples the dispatch and speaks with quiet fury.

CORNWALLIS
Call a general staff meeting.

AIDE
Yes, sir.

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 battlefield.

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 runners...

And, finally, MARION AND HIS MEN, who stand in the middle of a long line of Patriot militia in the center of a long, valley-line depression.

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 BEATS...

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.

MARION
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.

MARION
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.
Listen up.

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.

CORNWALLIS
Do you see that, Colonel?

TARLETON
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, advancing...

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...

MORE DRUMS...

The men around Marion wait.

THEN, THEY SEE IT...

A MASSIVE WALL OF RED appears over the rise in front of them...

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 move...

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, then aim...

Still, Marion and the Americans don't move...

DEAD SILENCE...

Then, a single, thin voice calls out from the British lines...

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 FLEE...

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 obscures everything.

He barks to his SIGNALMAN...

CORNWALLIS
Fix bayonets... dispatch the Green
Dragoons.

The Signalman raises his semaphore flags and snaps the message.

MARION AND HIS MEN are caught in the middle of the chaotic retreat...

THE BRITISH LINE advances at a quickstep, bayonets fixed...

From behind them, THE GREEN DRAGOONS appear, at a full gallop, Tarleton at their head...

THE BATTLEFIELD

It's an astonishing sight... total madness... hell... a painting by Hieronymous Bosch...

The mass of the British infantry charges after the fleeing Patriot militiamen...

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...

THEN SUDDENLY

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 them...

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 TARLETON...

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 British lines...

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...

DALTON
COLONEL! OUR LINE!

Marion finishes reloading... distracted he turns to Dalton for an instant...

DALTON
OUR LINE IS FALTERING...

Marion takes a quick glance at the Continental line, seeing...

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 line...

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...

Marion wavers...

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 line...

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 his eye...

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 hand...

Tarleton GRABS HIS SWORD, SLASHES AT MARION who dodges the blow...

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 at hand...

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 barricades.

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 white flag.

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 waiting.

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 formal greetings.

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 away.

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.

LEE
Goodbye, Francis.

MARION
Goodbye, Harry.

Marion reaches down. They shake hands.

MARION
And congratulations on the birth of
your son.

LEE
Thank you. Maybe all of this will
buy him some peace.

MARION
I hope so.

As Marion starts to ride off, he reins back and stops, speaking back to Lee over his shoulder.

MARION
Your son, what did you name him?

LEE
Robert. Robert E. Lee.

Marion smiles.

MARION
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 his feet...

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...

LEANS OVER...

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 with apples.

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 GREAT DANES.

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.

MARION
Two pounds, fourteen ounces.

CHARLOTTE
Lovely.

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.

SUSAN
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.

MARION (O.S.)
Damnation!

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.

FADE OUT.

THE END





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