Late 18th Century Mel Gibson is a widower raising seven kids, Gabriel the oldest is anxious to join the American forces fighting the Brits in the war for independence. Against his father's wishes Gabriel does join up only to return home wounded as he is carrying dispatches between commanders. The war has come to their piece of the world and the family entire, gets caught up in it. Mel's second son is killed trying to free Gabriel as he is taken prisoner which forces Mel to first free his son and then join up. Mel takes the battle to the Brits leading his rag tag band of farmers and ex-Indian fighters as the Americans defeat the British and he gets his revenge on the one who killed his son.
Factual error: In one scene Lord Cornwallis' adjutant announces to Lord Cornwallis that a messenger (Benjamin Martin) has arrived. After initially dismissing the message, Lord C. pays attention on the mention of two "Great Danes" in Martin's company. The Great Dane as we know it today had many names over the centuries, but the Danish connection only became common use in the 19th century (Comte de Buffon - l'Histoire Naturelle - 1811). Until then the British would have called them Mastiffs (English or German), English Dogges, or perhaps even Boarhounds. Actually - the English Kennel Club of Britain didn't officially recognize the term/breed "Great Dane" until 1884.
Trivia: The character Benjamin Martin was based very strongly on the real life militia leader Gen. Francis Marion, the "Swamp Fox". In the original drafts of the script even the character's name was to be Francis Marion. However, during filming certain historical sources revealed that Francis Marion was perhaps a very dubious character who was accused of hunting Native Americans for sport and raping his female slaves. Historical debate rages over the veracity of these accusations; but Sony Pictures changed the name of the character to Benjamin Martin to avoid any potential controversy around the film.
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