The crowd waits. The doors open and a PAGE BOY dashes out and runs to the Continental Captain at the recruiting table.
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 Martin a wide berth.
Martin sees Gabriel, standing near the crowd at the recruiting table. Martin 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.
Martin 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 recruiting table. Martin stands alone in the middle of the chaos. The FIFES AND DRUMS continue to play. Martin doesn't hear them.
Is he as imprudent as his father was
at his age.
Martin turns and sees Lee standing next to him, looking at Gabriel.
Unfortunately, so. In other
measures he is his mother's son, but
in prudence, or lack thereof, he is
I'll see to it that he serves under
me. I'll make him clerk or a
quartermaster, something of that
They shake hands. Then Lee walks over to the soldiers. CAMERA CRANES UP as Martin takes a last look at Gabriel, then heads off through the crowded square, moving against the tide of men headed toward the recruiting table.
CRANE UP ENDS ON TABLEAU of the sunlit city of Charleston. Bustling streets filled with civilians, Patriots streaming into the Assembly Square and fluttering flags -- the South Carolina state flag and numerous "Don't Tread On Me" flags.
EXT. CHARLESTON - DAY
The same view of the city which has radically changed:
TWO YEARS LATER
The sky is cloud-filled and dark. The flags have all been replaced by Union Jacks. Redcoats march in lock-step unison where excited Patriots and civilians ran. A fleet of British ships is visible in the harbor. Defensive emplacements, bristling with cannons, surround the city.
... and I apologize for not having
written in such a long time.
EXT. CHARLESTON STREET - DAY
A detachment of Redcoats marches past coldly staring American civilians.
As you must know, the fall of
Charleston has been a severe blow to
EXT. CHARLESTON SQUARE - DAY
LORD GENERAL CORNWALLIS haughtily turns from American General Lincoln, forcing Lincoln to present his sword of surrender to one of Cornwallis' subordinates.
With the sting of that loss made all
the worse by Cornwallis' humiliation
of our General Lincoln at the
EXT. CHARLOTTE'S HOUSE - CHARLESTON - DAY
Charlotte supervises her slaves as they pack a line of
A letter from Aunt Charlotte
informed me that she closed her home
in Charleston before the city
EXT. CHARLOTTE'S PLANTATION - DAY
A backcountry plantation. More substantial than Martin's but not opulent. Charlotte, her hands dirty, tends a vegetable garden with a pair of female slaves, while several male slaves harvest rice in the paddies beyond.
... and moved to her plantation near
you on the Santee.
EXT. SLIGHT RISE - FRESH WATER PLANTATION - LATER
Martin stands at his wife's grave, finishing reading the letter.
What little news we get from the
North is disheartening, offering us
little solace in these dark times.
I pray for a turn of fortune for our
cause. Then, as now, your loving
A soft wind blows. Martin turns his head, listening for a faint voice, but hears nothing. He folds the letter, takes off his glasses, boxes them, and heads down the hill toward the lights and laughter coming from the house below.
INT. MARTIN'S BEDROOM - DUSK
A trunk lid opens. CAMERA PULLS BACK to reveal Thomas in Martin's closet. He lifts out some blankets, uncovering a trove of Martin's old military gear -- a worn battle coat, a box of medals, a military sword, rusted into its scabbard, and the tomahawk seen in the opening sequence.
Thomas puts on the coat which hangs off his narrow shoulders. He stands in front of a mirror, appraising himself. He picks up the tomahawk and hefts it. FOOTSTEPS.
Martin steps into the room and stops. Thomas grimaces, expecting him to be angry but Martin simply shakes his head, takes the tomahawk, and gently removes the battle coat.
Not yet, Thomas.
Martin 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.
Martin offers his hand. They shake. Martin puts the coat and the tomahawk back in the trunk and closes the lid.
INT. FRESH WATER PLANTATION - DAWN
All is quiet. A dawn mist hovers close over the ground. Some sparrows feed at the base of the oak tree near the gravesite. DISTANT THUNDER. Low and rolling. The birds fly away.
INT. MARTIN'S BEDROOM - DAWN
Another roll of the DISTANT THUNDER. Martin awakes. He gets out of bed and pulls on his clothes.
EXT. FRONT PORCH - MARTIN'S HOUSE - DAWN
Martin 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 he is joined by his children. Thomas, Nathan and Samuel listen analytically. Margaret and Susan press close against their father.
Abigale and Abner join the family on the porch. Abigale gathers Susan and William to her skirts. Joshua, Jonah and Mica step out of the slave quarters and listen.
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.
We could go stay at Aunt
Charlotte's. She's 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 those things away!
INT. WORKSHOP - DAY
Martin works the lathe, trying to concentrate. Susan watches from her perch on the woodpile. A distracted Martin slips, CUTTING HIS FINGER. The BLOOD, landing on the spinning dowel, makes a quick, bright red, circle around the wood. Martin continues working.
EXT. BARN - DAY
The SOUND OF A CRASH. A horse runs out of the barn, dragging a tenacious Samuel who is holding onto the horse's neck. Joshua and Jonah step out of the barn, admiring the boy's grit. Samuel's grip fails and he lands in the dirt. Seeing that he's unhurt, Joshua and Jonah laugh lightly as the horse runs off down the hill toward the river. Joshua stands Samuel up and brushes him off.
You go on and get him, there, boy.
Samuel grabs a rope and heads down the hill to get the horse.
ON THE RIVERBANK
As Samuel approaches the horse 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.
ON THE PORCH
Abigale sees Samuel beyond the yard wall and snaps at Margaret.
Look where your brother is... your
Papa said you stay close by this
house... you bring him up here,
Margaret heads after Samuel. Abigale re-enters the house.
He doesn't respond. William trails after Margaret.
Samuel, get up to the house...
Papa's gonna be mad...
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 fascinated.
MARTIN 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. MARTIN'S HOUSE - NIGHT
Quiet. Dark. Martin stands on the front porch, looking out into the night, listening, hearing nothing. He glances up at 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.
SUDDENLY IN FRONT OF THEM, A BLOODY FIGURE
Big. Hulking. In uniform. Margaret SCREAMS. William and Samuel CRY OUT. The figure moves toward them...
Martin, on the porch, hears the scream, races into the< house... sees the figure... Martin reaches under his vest and DRAWS A HERETOFORE UNSEEN PISTOL... cocks and aims in a fast, practiced motion... he's just about to fire when...
THE FIGURE MOVES INTO THE LIGHT... Martin sees...
Gabriel is wounded, battered and dirty, carrying a musket and a dispatch case. He sways. Martin catches him and eases him to a seat. Abigale frantically looks at his wounds.
The battle, were you there?
Abigale, get bandages and water.
Thomas, the porch.
They hurry off. Martin checks Gabriel's wounds.
Have you seen any Redcoats?
Not yet. What happened?
Abigale brings water and linen to Martin who expertly
cleans Gabriel's wounds and applies field-dressings as
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. Martin's stunned. Gabriel tries to rise.
I have to get these dispatches to
You're in no condition to ride.
I can't stay here... it's not safe
for any of you and I must get to...
Gabriel passes out. Martin catches him and carries him to a day-bed. They hear HEAVY MUSKET FIRE, VERY CLOSE.
Martin 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. Martin 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 and watches.
EXT. LOWER FIELD - FRESH WATER PLANTATION - DAWN
First light. The morning mist lies low over the field. Martin 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 Martin nears the field he sees, appearing out of the 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. Martin hurries back toward the house.
EXT. MARTIN'S HOUSE - FRESH WATER PLANTATION - DAY
The porch and yard have been turned into a field hospital. There are about two dozen wounded, a few more Patriots than Redcoats. Joshua, Jonah and Mica unload the last wagon-load of injured men. Abigale, Thomas, Nathan, Samuel and Margaret help Martin tend the soldiers. William and Susan watch from inside. Abner stands on the edge of the yard as lookout.
Gabriel, stronger though still weakened by his wounds, helps, treating a Patriot's arm wound, retying a tourniquet, stanching an ugly flow of blood. Thomas sees and swoons, then grows embarrassed when Gabriel notices.
EXT. MARTIN'S HOUSE - AFTERNOON
Triage completed. Margaret and Samuel give water and food. Martin kneels next to a CONTINENTAL SERGEANT and a COUPLE OF PRIVATES who are less severely wounded than the others.
Martin nods, uncomfortable with the thanks.
Sergeant, there are seventeen
wounded men here. Seven Redcoats
and ten Patriots, counting my son.
That puts me in a difficult
The Continental Sergeant knows what's coming. The Privates and Martin's younger children don't. A troubled Gabriel, overhearing, does know.
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 Martin'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.
Martin's children are not convinced. Gabriel steps over in front of Martin as the Sergeant and the two Privates gather themselves to leave.
We'll be safe this way.
Even now you won't pick a side?
Martin glances at his younger children then turns back to Gabriel.
Gabriel points to the more seriously wounded of the Privates.
You stay, I'll go.
No. His wound is less severe than
Gabriel hesitates. The Private tentatively steps up.
He's right. I'll go.
Gabriel backs down. Martin hides his relief and turns to the Sergeant and the Privates.
Your best chance is in Bennington,
seven miles east, along the river
The wounded men nod grimly and start off down the road.
Martin, Gabriel and his children watch them go. A troubled Gabriel heads over to help the remaining wounded.
EXT. FRESH WATER ROAD - DAY
A dirt road runs along the edge of the swamps. Beautiful country. Peaceful. 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 vigorous.
Armed to the teeth, each with a flintlock carbine, a brace of pistols and a sword. Some carry lances. Flags flutter.
And at their head, the most imposing man of all, LT. COLONEL WILLIAM TAVINGTON. "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 him.
Behind them, two dozen LOYALIST MILITIA CALVARY. Nasty, local men. Civilian clothes. Riding at their head, AMOS GASKINS, grizzled, lower-class, wearing ill-fitting patrician's clothing.
AROUND A BEND
The three wounded Patriots who just left Martin'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. Tavington 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 men.
First Virginia Regulars under
Who cared for your wounds?
With a lace table cloth?
Tavington turns to his second-in-command, MAJOR WILKINS.
Tavington rides off. Wilkins and several other Dragoons calmly FIRE THEIR PISTOLS, killing the three Patriots. The troops ride off, thundering past the bodies.
EXT. FRESH WATER PLANTATION - DAY
Martin, his family and freedmen continue tending the wounded. REDCOAT INFANTRY appear out of the woods, heading toward the house. Three dozen men. Scouts and flank units covering the main body. Martin gathers his family around him, stands and waits.
Joshua, Jonah and Mica stand among the wounded. Abigale makes her way to Martin and the children, gathering the younger ones closer to her.
The Redcoats warily eye the wounded and Martin's family. A young REDCOAT LIEUTENANT motions his men to check out the house and barn, then does a silent count of the wounded.
These men are of my regiment. Thank
Martin 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:
TAVINGTON 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.
Tavington surveys the scene, then speaks to the young Redcoat Lieutenant.
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 Tavington.
We found this, sir.
Tavington 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.
Martin quickly steps between Tavington and Gabriel.
Colonel, he's a dispatch rider and
that's a marked dispatch case.
Tavington ignores Martin and continues speaking to the Lieutenant.
Fire the house and barns. Send the
slaves to Acworth... enlist the
young ones. Leave the rest of the
Abigale is appalled. Joshua steps up.
We're not slaves, we're freedmen...
Then you're freedmen who will enlist
in the King's army.
Martin grows distraught...
And the Rebel wounded?
The Redcoat Lieutenant and several of his men are shocked by the order. Martin is, also, but he's more concerned with Gabriel. He pushes past some Redcoats and stands at Tavington's mount, looking up.
A dispatch rider with a marked case
cannot be held for spying.
Tavington finally pays attention to Martin. 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.
Tavington draws his pistol and points it at Martin. Gabriel tries to intercede but is held back by a burly Redcoat Corporal.
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...
Tavington controls his shifting mount, keeping his pistol trained on Martin's face.
Would you like a lesson in the rules
Martin doesn't answer. He looks up at Tavington coldly, taking his measure, waiting to see if he's going to pull the trigger.
Tavington walks his horse a couple of steps and shifts his aim, pointing the pistol among Martin's children.
Perhaps your children would.
The children are terrified. Thomas is more angry than frightened. Martin quickly steps between the pistol and his children and speaks quietly to Tavington.
No lesson is necessary.
Tavington sees the terrified expressions on the faces of Martin's children. He smiles at the effect. Then he holsters his pistol.
Martin 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.
TAVINGTON 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 his chest.
MARTIN, horrified, catches Thomas as he falls, easing him to the ground.
GABRIEL CRIES OUT. THE OTHER CHILDREN are stunned to silence. Abigale SOBS.
The REDCOATS are frozen in place. Tavington's GREEN DRAGOONS are impassive, having seen worse.
MARTIN holds his son, looking at the huge, incomprehensible wound. He knows that Thomas is already dead, though his body still moves.
MARTIN'S stunned agony turns to fury. He rises, his eyes trained on Tavington, then stops as...
TAVINGTON raises a second loaded pistol and a DOZEN GREEN DRAGOONS raise pistols and carbines, aiming them at Martin, Gabriel and the other children.
MARTIN FREEZES, torn between his fury and fear for his children. He locks his eyes on Tavington.
TAVINGTON calmly baths in Martin's anger. Then, with a hard yank of the reins, he jerks his horse's head around and utters a sharp command to Wilkins.
Tavington spurs his horse and rides off without looking back. His GREEN DRAGOONS THUNDER after him.
MARTIN'S CHILDREN begin to cry. Margaret tries to revive Thomas' lifeless body, gently caressing his cheek.
Thomas, please, Thomas...
A sobbing Abigale tries to pull her from Thomas' body.
Come, child, come...
The Redcoats watch in silence. MARTIN LOOKS TO GABRIEL who is stunned, torn between shock and overwhelming guilt. Martin turns to the Redcoat Lieutenant.
The Lieutenant wavers, but a look after the departing Tavington stiffens his resolve.
I have my orders. Sergeant!
The Redcoat infantrymen scatter, some to get horses and wagons from the barn, others to torch the buildings.