However, much of The Patriot is not historically accurate in the interpretation of broad themes or in specific details of the campaign in the South and of warfare in the American Revolution. The Patriot, directed by Roland Emmerich and starring Mel Gibson, offers a look at a South Carolina militia group comprised of American misfits. They are led by reluctant warrior Benjamin Martin (Gibson), a seasoned veteran of the earlier French and Indian War, who still regrets his participation in the uncontrolled savagery that occurred back then.
In retaliation for the murder of his young son by British Colonel William Tavington, the vicious Tavington believes in war without limits and will kill any American, regardless of age, when it suits his purpose. His uncontrolled brutality contrasts with the gentlemanly rules of conduct rigidly adhered to by senior British commanders, including General Charles Cornwallis.
The Patriot shows us warfare, 1700s-style, when neat columns of men stood face-to-face and blasted away at each other with hand-held cannons. And when they couldn't get a shot off, they hacked away at each other with swords. Americans, the film reveals, quickly discovered that fighting face-to-face with the most powerful army in the world in an open field was a dumb idea. So they resorted to quick hit-and-run attacks by home-grown bands of militiamen who knew every nook-and-cranny of the land they were fighting on, which of course was their own. They were quite effective at harassing the British and even sending them on exhausting wild goose chases.
This was important because it gave insight to how things were in the 1700s during the American revolution. Such as only 25% of the colonists actually wanted independence, savagery employed by the Patriots, an acknowledgement of the fact that the French (plus Spanish and Dutch) actually made the war unsustainable for the British.
The America society during this era allowed them to each...