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Mel Gibson's "The Patriot" as History

The popular film The Patriot is loosely based on the exploits of several real life historical figures including a British officer, Lt. Col. Banstre Tarleton and several American patriots: the "Swamp Fox," Francis Marion, Daniel Morgan, Elijah Clark, Thomas Sumter and Andrew Pickens.

Watch the trailer
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Exploration 1: Fact and Fiction

Like many historical films, "The Patriot" involves a mixture of fact and fiction. In one scene, a British officer orders his troops to burn down a church that is crowded with Patriot women, men, and children. Although no such episode occurred during the Revolution, a similar event occurred during World War II, when a German Panzer Division burned down a church in the French village of Oradour-sur-Glane on June 10, 1944.

Information about Oradour-sur-Glane (

Why do you think the film included this incident?

Exploration 2: As Evil As the Movie Claims?

The British officer in the film, who is named Col. Tavlington, but who is based on Lt. Col. Banastre Tarleton, is depicted as cruel and evil.

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To learn about Lt. Col. Banastre Tarleton, go to:

For a comparison between the real life Banastre Tarleton and the cinematic Colonel Tavington, see:
and scroll down to "The Real Colonel Tavington"




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