How's everyone doing on this magnificent day?! It's a new year, a new day and it's time for a new article to start off 2015. I'm here to give all of you at Moviepilot a new series of articles, by yours truly... titled 'Fact or Fiction'. In this series I will be breaking down various historical based (including biographical) films. Telling you, the readers the myths and facts.
Hey, I learned a great deal during this adventure (yes, researching is an adventure). Now, come join me on this adventure and perhaps you might learn something new too!
The first of this series focuses on the Revolutionary War and the movie The Patriot.
The American Revolutionary War (The Patriot)
Oh, how much do I love learning about the American Revolutionary War! This was a major turning point in US history that signified the United States of America as a free country from British rule. We learn a lot about the war in history class, TV specials, especially in featured-length films like The Patriot. The question is how much of it is truly accurate in the movies? Were the Americans really gun-toting badasses? Were the French truly cowards? Let's find out!
The American Revolution was fought for liberty.
Believe it or not the American Revolution was as much of a civil war than anything. Not everyone fought for liberty. As a matter of fact, America was split between not two, but three sides! You had the Patriots who fought for American independence these are the guys we glorify the most in history books. Next, you have those who chose the king's side and then you have the people who honestly didn't give a crap, they just wanted to live in peace. To make things worse, unlike the actual American Civil War of 1861 which depended on which side of the country you lived in (North or South). With both Patriots and Loyalists in the same neighborhood a single street had the potential to break into a civil war of its own.
Even though the Patriots are highly glorified throughout American history, they were actually the minority on the American side and least favored to side with. The truth is there weren't really many "good guys" in this bloody war. The aftermath left 60,000 men, women and children forcibly cast out of the United States as refugees.
The Americans won the war with badass guerrilla tactics.
In the movie The Patriot Mel Gibson's character "Benjamin Martin" massacres an entire patrol of red coats. It's one of my favorite scenes in the movie, but did the Colonists actually conduct a lot of guerrilla attacks? In the video below lets count how many times good ole Benjamin should've died in this heroic act of bravery.
If you counted more than 6 then you're absolutely right! The truth is rarely and almost never did the Colonists use guerrilla tactics against the British. In fact, the majority of the battles won were all conventional styled. Which meant every soldier was lined up on the battlefield taking aim at their opposing target. Just to make it even clearer the Americans didn't necessarily hold the advantage in the whole Peek-A-Boo style of war that again goes to the British. The British had a significant advantage in guerrilla tactics for three important reasons.
- Robert Rogers, the man that created the book ("Rules of Ranging") on being an Army Ranger fought for the British army. By fighting the French and Indian War, Robert studied the hit and run tactics of the Native Americans. With this he combined their tactics with his own to create the guerrilla style of fighting we now have in the US military. Did I mention that he's an American and he fought for the British in both wars (French and Indian, Revolutionary War). Now that's what I call a stab to the back!
- Hell! Even Native American tribes sided with the British which certainly made a huge statement to the Colonists. If they dared to make a move on them when on their patrols they had to face the wrath of the tribes.
- I know it's incredibly enticing to imagine Mel Gibson massacring a fumbling, clumsy British patrol, but the British Army were far from lazy. More than anything they had far more experience in both conventional and guerrilla warfare compared to their amateurish counterparts. Each man was highly experienced, skilled, organized and already shared their fair shares of battle scars. Compared to the Colonists that were a mixture of civilians, hunters, fur traders and some veterans of the French and Indian War.
Nonetheless, it was probably best that the majority of the war took place on open battlefields because it would be very difficult to conduct a successful ambush due to the weaponry of their era. Imagine trying to fire a musket that takes 15-20 seconds to reload, then on top of that you have a high possibility of missing a target in the dense woods. You would do more damage than good for your men.
The French were late on arrival.
It's a very popular myth (and stereotype) that we see in movies and history books that the French were late on arrival or they're quitters. On the contrary the French were around to help the Americans as early as 1776 (the war began 1775) providing firearms, ammunition, food, cannons, strategic advice, clothing and military reinforcements. Without them, we could all be saluting to the Union Jack right now. You want to know something really interesting? The Revolution was nothing but a proxy war between France and Britain.
In the eyes of France, America was just another tool to get back at Britain. They used the colonists struggle for independence as a weapon. Pretty much telling them "Hey, we got your back and if you help us, we can set you "free" from British rule." The French are responsible for 90%, I repeat 90% of gunpowder for America! This includes the thousands of muskets they gave to us, including hundreds of canons! Remember the French honestly had no interest in America this was all based on being selfish. While the Colonists believed they were fighting for good ole American freedom! The French were busy kicking the British asses in naval warfare preventing any reinforcements crossing the Atlantic Ocean. To make things worse for the British, France had formed an alliance with Spain. Both had planned a full scale invasion on Britain with their navy.
Since history books primarily focus on America fighting for freedom against the "evil" British. Let's not forget that they were using French money, forces and equipment to help them win the war.
Hey, share your thoughts, expertise in all things Revolutionary... I'm here to learn more too. To learn more cool and little known facts about the Revolutionary War, check out the Smithsonian's "Myths of the American Revolution".