Benjamin Martin had seven children. His wife died while giving birth to his youngest daughter, Susan. The Martin family lived in South Carolina, where he built a small home on a farm. The Martin’s were well known and liked by both Patriots and Whigs alike. They only hired freedmen. Benjamin enjoyed making furniture; his main goal was to make the perfect chair, the three-pound rocking chair. His plantation, Fresh Water Plantation, was his retirement plan.
The Patriot begins in March 1776, with a messenger from the Continental Mail Service delivering a stack of letters to Benjamin Martin. The most urgent letter was from the Speaker of the Assembly. Everyone who was old enough knew what this meant. Benjamin’s sons thought war was glorious and were excited by the letter. Benjamin, who was a veteran of the French and Indian war, was not. He learned the hard way how gruesome war was, and didn’t want to have anything to do with it, nor his family. His oldest son Gabriel scared him the most. Gabriel wanted to join the war, and was old enough to do it. The note was an invitation to a meeting in Charles Town where the colonies would decide whether they’d join the cause or not. Benjamin and family left for Charles Town to stay with their aunt Charlotte on their mother’s side. Benjamin and Charlotte had a spark between them, but Benjamin was not yet over his wife. At the meeting, an argument over why the colonies should all unite was in full strength.
Benjamin, who was thought to be a Patriot, stood and made a point as to why he should not join the war, and offered an alternative to war. By the end of the meeting, Martin said he would not agree to make a vote that allowed a war to go on in his backyard. Benjamin’s children were ashamed by their father’s words. The levy was passed, however, and Benjamin later caught up with Gabriel who was in line to enlist in the war. There was nothing he could do to change his son’s mind. Colonial Harry Burwell told Martin he’d take care of his son.
Gabriel was away for nearly two years. Benjamin’s second oldest son, Thomas, grew thirsty for war himself. The war was growing closer to Fresh Water Plantation. Gunshots were within earshot. Gabriel returned home wounded and bloody. Soon the battle took place on Martin’s ground. His home was soon transformed into a hospital. Both Patriots and British were taken care of. Colonel William Tavington of the Green Dragoons came to the Plantation. He took his soldiers, and noticed all the rebels. He also noticed that there was a rebel dispatch from General Gate’s army somewhere in the house. Gabriel was found and taken as a prisoner. He ordered the house and barns burned. Thomas tried to save his brother. He knocked one of the holders down and told Gabriel to run. Tavington turned and shot Thomas in the back and rode on. Benjamin recruited his two other sons, and went after his oldest son. Martin had Nathan and Samuel hide in the woods. Martin also hid. He fought using Indian-like tactics. There were about twenty soldiers. The British were not used to this kind of fighting and were frightened. Martin became known as the Ghost. His sons saw him fight and were horrified by his brutality.
The Martin’s went to their Aunt Charlotte’s house that she inherited from her late husband. Gabriel soon returned to war, and Martin decided soon after to join and follow his son. He caught up with Gabriel where they observed a battle taking place led by Gates. Gates was a terrible leader in warfare, and lost the war. Martin and Gabriel soon met up with Gates army. Gates had apparently abandoned his army, and Colonel Burwell had taken his place. Martin and Burwell had fought in the French and Indian war together before. Martin learned that the Redcoats were trying to go north to defeat General Washington’s army, and Burwell was trying to stop it. Burwell promoted Martin as colonel and Martin soon began recruiting. He picked Gabriel, of course, to be transferred into his command. Major Jean Villeneuve was also given to Martin to help train his soldiers.
The three men immediately split up and began recruiting from everywhere possible. Gabriel, at first, was unsuccessful until he went to Pembroke where Anne Howard helped to encourage the men of her town to fight. Gabriel and Anne had known each other since they were children. Gabriel was now realizing her beauty. Gabriel continued on recruiting and tripled his force. Martin and Villeneuve went directly to the Boar’s Head Tavern where Martin knew he could find veterans of the French and Indian war who were ready to fight. Martin and Gabriel met back up at Black Swamp where they set up camp. British supply shipments were constantly coming through the area, so Black Swamp was the perfect hidden location for camp.
The militia fought using Indian-style tactics. The first supply shipment they attacked had all the supplies the militia needed to keep them fighting. They also found and confiscated the British General Lord Cornwallis’s personal journals, supplies, and his prized pair of Great Danes. The men under Martin did not kill those who surrendered and the other men also agreed to this. Martin learned that Cornwallis was a great leader, but he had a weakness; his weakness was pride. The militia intercepted many more supply trains over the next few months and freed many prisoners of war, as well as burn bridges. The British put notices up for a reward of the one known as the Ghost. To be sure no one would turn Martin and his men in, the militia went to the towns and bought people drinks and left big tips for the bartender. Civilian loyalty was a must to keep the militia and its location safe. Since they usually attacked at night, Villeneuve trained the men during the day. Gabriel wrote Anne Howard a few letters in his off time.
Lord Cornwallis was extremely mad at the militia for taking his personal stuff. He usually had a reputation for wearing perfect clothing for the occasion, but was forced to look indecent. In the bay across from Cornwallis were his supply ships the Bristol and the York. Aboard the Bristol were much needed supplies such as ammunition. On the Bristol were Cornwallis’s new uniforms and other supplies of this nature. The militia snuck aboard the York as the Bristol was being unloaded. They took many supplies, and rowed away. The York blew up soon after.
The militia paid a visit to Pembroke where Gabriel met up with Anne. He spent the night there, where she played a trick on him. When they were young Gabriel had put ink in her tea, so it was her turn to return the favor. Then they read Common Sense together. Mr. Howard began contributing supplies to the militia. A few days later another British supply train was spotted. When the militia attacked they soon found out that it was a trap. The Green Dragoons led by Tavington came riding over the hill. The militia retreated into the woods, and lost the following Dragoons. About sixty of the militiamen were dead, wounded, or missing. Martin soon was informed that the British held eighteen of the militiamen. The next day Martin went to Cornwallis’s camp dressed as a civilian who wanted to speak with him. Cornwallis’ dogs that had been given to him by the King followed Martin into camp. After negotiating, Martin and Cornwallis agreed to exchange prisoners. As Martin left, he called the dogs to him, and on top of that, the prisoners of Martins were really scarecrows. Cornwallis was very furious. He called for Tavington, who devised a plan to get to Martin by getting at his family.
The Dragoons went to Charlotte’s home. Charlotte and the children had gone out the back door and met Gabriel. He helped lead them away silently from the house, while Martin distracted the Dragoons. Gabriel and the children met up with each other and went to Gullah Village that Occam had shown them. Occam was one of the militiamen who was fighting to become a freedman. Gabriel and the few other militiamen left Gullah Village and returned to their camp. They soon learned that Tavington had a list of the militiamen’s names, and was going to kill everyone, including the civilians, and burn their homes. The militia followed Billings to his home where he found the worst. Billings committed suicide. Martin gave the militia five days to go to their families. He went to Gullah Village and paid his children and Charlotte a visit. Gabriel soon announced that he and Anne were going to start a family. They got married at Gullah Village. Soon their leave was over, and they had to return to active duty.
The Howard family arrived at Pembroke village, and was told to join the villagers in the church. Tavington asked for any information about the Ghost in exchange for their lives. Of course he didn’t plan to keep his word. One of the villagers cracked, and gave the location of the militia. Tavington burned all the villagers alive inside the church. Martin and his men rode up to Pembroke soon after to find the horror of it all. While the men were digging graves for the dead, Gabriel had gone to get revenge. In the battle, Gabriel had shot Tavington in the arm. When he went to finish him off, Tavington swung around and stabbed Gabriel. Martin saw the scene as he came over a crest in the hill. Soon after, the Continental Army came and set up camp.
Martin had given up his fighting. Burwell tried to talk Martin into coming back, but wasn’t getting through to him. The army marched on. Martin then found inspiration in an Old Glory flag Gabriel had sewn together. He met back up with the army the next morning. The final battle was about to take place. The British had the Continental Army cornered. Martin convinced them to let the militia fire two rounds from the center of the lines. It was a gamble that he had convinced them to agree on. That night Martin finished making bullets out of Thomas’s toy soldiers. He planned to use them on Tavington. The battle took place the next morning. The militia got off the first round of firing, but the second from the British caused them to panic and retreat. Martin called them back though, and they continued on. Tavington, who wasn’t given orders to charge, decided to charge. The militia’s second round didn’t kill many, and they retreated. The Redcoats followed the militia over the crest of the hill where they found a reserve of Burwell’s men waiting. The battle soon turned sides though, as more Redcoats came.
Martin observed the retreating Continentals and militiamen. He took an Old Glory flag and began waving it on top of a hill. The army tried to regroup and attack again. They soon took control of the valley. Martin and Tavington met on the battlefield. Tavington gained the upper hand as he stabbed Martin in the stomach with a bayonet. Tavington then came around to cut Martin’s head off, when Martin ducked and struck Tavington in the stomach. The militia and the army won the battle. Martin was found on the field and treated, but the doctors thought he’d die. He didn’t though, and told Burwell he was resigning. Burwell said he couldn’t unless Martin put it in writing and personally gave it to him. Thinking it was impossible when Martin was in such bad condition he left it at that. Burwell was surprised when he saw that Martin was standing at his doorway with his signature. Burwell told Martin to take six weeks off and see his family, and if Burwell didn’t see Martin in that time, he’d make the letter final. Martin went to his family, but soon returned to the war in thee weeks.
Approximately five months later, Martin and his militia hiked to the top of a nearby hill to see Seven Thousand French troops. There was also a barricade in the sea, preventing British supplies from coming in. A few weeks later, the British raised the white flag.
General Washington thanked the militia greatly for their contributions to the war. Burwell and Martin talked about what they planned to do now that the war was finally over. So much had changed; Martin had lost two of his boys. Burwell informed Martin that he had named his new son after Gabriel. Martin soon departed for his family. His wife was pregnant, so he had to wait at Gullah Village until his eighth child was old enough to travel. He planned to rebuild at Fresh Water Plantation, but worried because he didn’t know how he’d be able to finish in time for the winter. When he arrived at his homestead, he found that people were already building on his property. He was delighted though, when he found that it was a few of his militiamen helping to rebuild his home.