Patriotism is an unfair advantage for movies. Sony Pictures refers to this movie as "emotionally charged" and I believe it is evident that that is their goal. If this movie had been about the French Revolution I believe people would have thought it was too predictable and emotionally sappy, but as it is it grabs at patriotic heartstrings which forces the audience to accept its believability. But even though its historical value is unbalanced, I felt the performances of the cast help to create the real message behind this movie and gave us a glimpse of common people fighting an uncommon battle.
By their own account the writers and producers say that the characters in this film are "very loosely based" on the men and women of the revolution. It appears that they took the characteristics that would be most emotionally appealing to the audience and used them to "create" the historical personalities. .
The main character Benjamin Martin is played by Mel Gibson. On the DVD the producer Dean Develin says that this character is "based on Thomas Sumter, Andrew Pickens, Francis Marion, and bits and pieces of few others." All three of these historical characters lead small forces of poorly equipped guerilla trained militia. Francis Marion earned the nickname "The Swamp Fox" similar to the nickname "The Ghost" used in the movie. Banastre Tarleton gave this name to him for his ability to strike quickly and retreat to the swamps where the British Legion could not pursue. Thomas Sumter and Andrew Pickens both had their houses burned and family threatened by loyalists, which caused them to rally their militia. Similarly, Mel Gibson's character is forced to fight when his house is burned and his son killed.
In addition to these things there are many other ways the Benjamin Martin character is the epitome of the American colonist. While he considered himself a patriot, he was not eager to go to war with Britain, as he knew the battle would not "be fought in some distant battlefield, but among us.