"Burn the church!"
Description: Dastardly command of British Colonel William Tavington (Jason Isaacs) in the Revolutionary War motion picture The Patriot (2000).
Under the command of General Cornwallis (Tom Wilkinson), British dragoon Colonel William Tavington wages a war against South Carolina colonists in the year 1776. His method of warfare is to slash and burn and kill anyone who resists him.
As the men of South Carolina assemble to discuss war with England, Benjamin Martin (Mel Gibson), a veteran of the French Indian Wars, stands on the side of peace and refuses to become part of a rebellion. But circumstances will soon change Martin's mind to take up arms against the British.
|Col. Burwell:||This is not a war for the independence of one or two colonies, but for the independence of one nation.|
|Capt. Wilkins:||Tell me, Colonel, what nation is that?|
|Mr. Howard:||An American nation!|
|Capt. Wilkins:||There is no such nation, and to speak of one is treason.|
|Mr. Howard:||We ARE citizens of an American nation! And our rights are being threatened by a tyrant three thousand miles away!|
|Benjamin Martin:||Would you tell me please, Mr. Howard, why should I trade one tyrant three thousand miles away for three thousand tyrants one mile away? An elected legislature can trample a man's rights as easily as a king can.|
|Col. Burwell:||Captain Martin, I understood you to be a patriot.|
|Benjamin Martin:||If you mean by patriot, am I angry about taxation without representation, well, yes I am. Should the American colonies govern themselves independently? I believe that they can, and they should. But if you are asking me, am I willing to go to war with England? Well, then the answer is most definitely NO!|
When Colonel Tavington arrives at the Martin plantation, he orders their house be burned and shoots and kills young Thomas Martin ("Stupid boy") who attempts to save his older brother, Gabriel (Keith Ledger) from being hanged as a spy. Benjamin Martin holds his temper but then pursues the men who have his son. Sadly, Tavington is not among them.
"You know, it's an ugly business doing one's duty... but just occasionally it's a real pleasure." - Colonel William Tavington
With the help of his two remaining boys, Martin ambushes a group of Redcoats using rifles and tomahawk and regains his son - a son who tragically will be killed by Tavington later in the struggle for independence.
One soldier who survives the bloody massacre reports that whatever attacked his party was like a ghost. He was here, then there...an inescapable blur in the woods.
Soon after, Tavington becomes frustrated as his attempts to quell the citizens of the American Colonies and so he decides to send a message to those not recognizing the power of the Crown.
Locking a group of men, women and children inside a local church, he brutally orders that it be burned to the ground. This incendiary action is beneath the strategies of his gentlemanly commander Lord Charles Cornwallis, but Tavington has no time for bureaucrats with no spine. He wants to win and he will do anything to obtain that end and a fat land grant for his efforts.
Speaking of the colonists, Cornwallis says, "These rustics are so inept. It nearly takes the honor out of victory. Nearly."
At the film’s conclusion, Tavington sees Martin amidst the smoke and confusion of the battlefield and tries to kill his opponent, but the vengeful father has the last laugh when he belly sticks Tavington with a bayonet and thus fulfills an earlier promise: "Before this war is over, I'm going to kill you.”
As Tavington dies, the American's newly formed Continental Army routes the British troops and marches to victory.