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tv   Patrick O Donnell The Indispensables  CSPAN  July 2, 2021 10:03pm-11:03pm EDT

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>> charter communications supports c-span as a public service along with these other television providers giving a row seat to democracy. >> good evening. i'm the executive director of the washington library cap map burning man coming to you from the library for an exciting evening book talk with patrick. i want to thank the company for sponsor not just this talk but many talks over the years, a great series where we have authors talking about the newest work and it doesn't get any newer than this because this the book release for this exciting book. i want to mention one program, june 9 our third lecture, richard bernstein's new book, the education of john adams.
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tickets are still available, and exciting event. join us wednesday night. an exciting program from the reading room here in mount vernon, the official book of patrick mcdonald new book, diverse marine who shaped the country, formed the navy and rode washington across the delaware. officially released by the press today. we have a number of autographed copies hung out question this event, got exciting windup is also submit questions, let us know what you want to know we can ask the questions tonight. this is a great book, i couldn't put it back down from they called it a novel like account of the fascinating story you are about to hear about from
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patrick. this moves very quickly, you learn more about gunpowder than you think you might, it's an exciting story there's a lot to hear from this account. to tell you a little more about patrick, he won't tell you these things himself. he's a best-selling militarypa historian, expert on elite unit, this is his second book in the revolutionary war. but the first one, washington's immortal, the untold story of the elite throughout the course of the revolution, this got him down this path and then he came to the washington library to work on this book you are about to hear about and he has received awards for his book covering the second world war, this is his 12th book across generations, he's done important historical work with combat.
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dozens of documentaries on different aspects of military history and most important, like i suggested, he worked on his work here is a fellow here at the washington library and i'm so excited to welcome you to this talk andin introduce you to patrick o'donnell. >> thank you so much for that introduction. it is good to come home. so much of my research for the indispensable's was here at this library where i literally rebuilt marblehead regimen from the ground up using pension files diary, z etc. to re-create this regimen story which is truly extraordinary. every book i've ever written has been a journey, each book has i found me in one way or another, this is no exception but before
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i embark upon a book, i always ask a basic question, who cares? what does it matter? clearly this library, our country wouldn't be here had it not been for these individuals i wrote about, men and women in the indispensable's. they saved our country multiple times, they shaped our country, formed the navy and paved inwashington's army on numerous occasions which i'm going to talk about tonight. the book is also a window into current events about a virus dividing americans politically, misinformation, disarmament, there's a lot of things in this book that resonate with people but let me take you back right now into one of the most crucial. the american revolution, the american from the battle of brooklyn had just been raised in
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america lost badly. washington's army was defeated. the marylanders i wrote a book called washington's immortal, more precious in our history and any other washington with a desperate action, washington's army retreat at brooklyn heights the british army which surrounded the american army there was about two come up the river and the lines were creeping forward, it was a perilous time or my time in history where all could be lost. washington had a decision toen make, retreat or fight. washington widely decided to retreat at this is a time when all could be lost. an army surrounded and destroyed and it was everything rested upon the shoulders of the man in the book i wrote about. washington decided to retreat, they had to cross a mile long
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river, east river and let me just take you back in time to august 29, 30th, thursday massive eastern helping both armies for two days straight after the battle at brooklyn. the lines have been creeping forward into the american position at heights and the army course closer and closer to unveiling the american army. washington decides to escape john in the marblehead men, they basically gather all in manhattan and manned the votes boats and they fairy the army across the east river. this is not an easy task. the reverse are swelling, the wind is notot cooperating and on top of that, a loyalist sees what's happening sent andnd enslaved individual within her
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household to the british lines to inform how the americans are escaping.ic this individual wonders upon soldiers who speak german and they are not able to understand what he's trying to say, fortunately but the americans are evacuating, he doesn't even know it until a couple of hours before the evacuation he had to pull off one of the greatest retreat in american history ande they manned the boat and as they did, the wind doesn't cooperate and tides are horrendous but there is something very special about these men. they worked together for years, fishing the grand bank, the most treacherous waters in the world. what makes them unique is they are arguably the first diverse regiment in the u.s. army.
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here is african-american native americans from islamic americanc all working together and they work together in a situation where race didn't matter life and death situations where literally the weather could kill people and they have to rely upon one another and they were relying upon one another that night to pull off one of the greatest retreat history as thea rode across the rivers, the wind rkworking the entire evacuation was about to be called off but the person delivering the message and washington, they still want and the wind pushed them across and against all odds, for conducted by retreat at that time, the wind changed in favor of americans and the men were able to transport the
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army across the east river and in one a case, almost a dozen times against all odds, as dawn was coming, a miraculous fog appeared and continued to screen the movement of the army as it was crossing. john and the marblehead men from massachusetts delivered the army safely. nearly 10000 men were delivered to safety. this is one reason which makes them indispensable. they saved the army in one ofat many situations and literally two weeks later, the british land again, it is the marblehead that makes a stand while the rest of the army retreat in washington is even catatonic as british attack, he and his horse
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are frozen in time so they have to literally come bring him out of the battle as the british advance toward him hundreds of yards away. marvel headers take the stand as army melt away. the army melts away from marvel headers make desperate stand and they are able to reform the battle and there is a small victory. the marvel headers involved, it is interesting the operations during this time where they conduct raids against the british line, the marvel had is a precursor to special operations unit we know today. they are doing things that are special and extraordinary, they launch fire ships against the british prior to the battle where they narrowly take out the equipment of britishut battlesh, they want rage and perform
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what's known as the guard. commander-in-chief for the lifeguard and the lifeguard is an extraordinary unit, precursor in many ways to secret service, washington's handpicked men who guard him and it's not a small group of men. it's up to 200 men and they are involved operations, battles and they also guard papers, the have aid to camp in many ways, a marble header leads the unit and shapes it informs it, it's an extraordinary story in and of itself but not only do they protect the unit but there is a bit of mystery involved. prior to the battle, there's numbers of the guard that lean toward british, royalty if you
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will. they are lured into assassinate washington and that is a relatively unknown story told in the indispensable's as well and uncover the plot luckily the guard protects washington and take out their own. the first american executed is a member of the guard but that is a fascinating story as the book moves forward, the indispensable's that are washington's elite force in many of the battles in new york and the british once again land in the northern part of manhattan at throngs points and it's here at the marvel headers and
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assortment of other units basically repel and the beast invasion from the greatest navy of the world at the time, the royal navy which is extraordinary in and of itself, they land a little further up the coast and its here the army or i'm sorry, the brigade including the marblehead regiment once again saved the army and they fight initially close to the landing but they fall back it's a collapsible k defense, kind of an emerging part of the american way of wara which is unique and ever-changing and still ever-changing to this day but we were not using conventional tactics of european armies, who were falling back from a fixed position in this case, they were
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falling back behind stone walls and allowing the british to advance but still taking down many of their numbers and it here not the indispensable way saves the washington army again and from here on, you enter fort washington were many americans are captured nearly 3000 americans including marvel headers who were captured early on basically wounded but recovery in fort washington captured by the british and so much of this book consists of tension application files that are in many ways, the unknown oral histories of the american
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revolution. if you were lucky enough toou survive the american revolution, you could apply for pension application in 1820 and you would go down to the local courthouse and swear under oath what you saw and did and here are some of the great oral history accounts of what happened during the war that's on past and it's in their own words and the indispensable's is filled with these unknown stories from unknown americans. it's a boots on the ground band of brothers, very much a cinematic telling of the war. it also has over 1000 and notes, all of it is, all the words in the book from these americans are true statements from their account, not something that i
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made up but within these accounts, within theth story is what happened and what they saw and did and it's compelling in many cases and as we enter november and december, this is the darkest days, some of the darkest days of america. things are politically collapsing, the military victories the british army has obtained from brooklyn, fort washington, from the other victories caused a swing within the u.s. where people abandon the pause. new jersey,le people are signing oath of allegiance to the crown from a congressman, people who have signed the declaration of independence now jumping sides. things are changing. the enlistments within the
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regiment are all set to expire and they are expiring. washington's army is literally melting away within his eyes and he decides he must do something, it is a desperate situation and he decides to attack the outpost in trent and it's here the marvel headers perhaps have their finest hour. it's a situation where everything changes. everything is on the line, everything was about to collapse and it's on the shoulders of the marvel headers once again. washington has an elaborate plan, he always has an elaborate plan. there are four prongs that will attack trent, marvel headers are basically taking the army across the delaware river on the main prong but the other three prongs
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are going forward. all of them fail except the marvel headers. only marvel headers have the skill to cross the delaware river which is filled with life, nothing is going according to plan. all the other proms to washington defense fail marvel headers are able to get the army across intact. at least one portion of it, the other threeon fail and that nigt they are behind schedule, they are about 12ov miles above trenn and they have to search through sleet and snow into trenton, much of the army at this time is barefoot, some of the -- they are literally -- tracks are filled with blood in the snow but they push forward. marvel headers are leading part
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of the elements, they push down toward the southern portion of trenton this is a very important part, without orders, they attack a key bridge known as the absentee bridge, for capture the bridge along with the guard and been they set up a series of cannons on high ground. meanwhile the rest of washington's army is attacking. during most 18th century engagementss, both sides battle it out and where one side is not doing well, they retreat. there was no evidence of retreat things to john glover and the inter- principles for capture the bridge, they seal the fate of their entire regiment which
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change the course of history and from there, the army sales back across the delaware next to the marblehead men and it's unfortunately a little bit worse than the trip over because the men captured the supply and it was a drunken cruise back over and several men fell over but captured most of the regiment, they captured a large extent upon it sets up a week later, roughly a week later, the second battle where washington doesn't necessarily want to fight his hand is forced by a militia group, philadelphia associates going over a little early without order and washington decides toan reinforce them and
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they hold a key bridge against all odds. half the marblehead regiment, a bequest or other more, it is hard to tell, stays with washington. the other group is exhausted and go back to marblehead but they fight at the battle of princeton and change the course of history. ten crucial day, they change the course of history in battle and it's the marvel headers that make it different but the story doesn't end there. what i mean by that is the marvel header once again saves the army and i'll get to that in a minute but first, i want to go through several characters of the book so you get a feel for what the book is about. the first character or
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individual i like to highlight john, he is the central character of the indispensable's and john glover is a self-made man. the french and indian war, he is a cobbler and also a bartender. with a body he makes from bartending and growling shoes, he's able to buy a ship and then more chips and he built a fleet and becomes a wealthy man within marblehead itself through trading andgh marblehead, fortus are made one fish. caught is a commodity and marblehead and it's a third of the economy in massachusetts in 1774. they fish the grandd bay and grand bay are some of the most
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treacherous waters in the world, it is icy, thousands of miles from boston but they sale up there and fish, they gather fish and it's a life and death situation against the giant waves storms but they are working together marblehead is a diverse community, it has native americans, it has three african-american, it has hispanic americans, these individuals are ahead of their time in many ways. a progressive talent for its time. many of the men in the end are abolitionist. the forefront of american civil rights before there were civil rights and they were pushing for the abolition of slavery including john glover and it's these crews that are diverse,
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working together but it's also the situation where the crown is interfering with their lives they are interfering with our lives constantly, theyte are impressed by the british navy, they come alongside the ship and say you are going to be a member of the royal navy effectively a slave for life and that individual taken aboard, a royal navy ship made a member of the navy for life and there's noal frame that unless they escape which some did. this is a factor that causes a break from great britain, one of the factors. regulation, excessive revelation, enterprises were regulated by the crown 3000 miles away marblehead would
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become the spearhead along with the revolution in an idea of the revolution and it was marvel headers who would play a critical role in this but in 177374 ships from marblehead brought home with it a virus that changed america and changed the town. the town would be divided politically. the virus was smallpox and
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people within the town were being infected but the patriots within the town came up with a novel plan to create an inoculation hospital to try to publicly deal with the virus itself towards causing political fissures, causing massive debts and if you are familiar with smallpox, they would have doubts across the face and back in it could kill you. they set up houses to sort of contain the virus the inoculation hospital which was cutting edge for the time was set up by don farber, and many of the other main characters in the book. as the hospital started to reduce result, it also produced a rising infection which
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loyalists used to their advantage to incite the mob and dozens of men rode on boat to cat island for the inoculation hospital was in place and they burned to the ground with people inside, remarkably nobody was killed. ...he broke in with crowbars to free the two men. and at that point we
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characters of the book the houses are surrounded by the angry mob which are hell-bent on potentially killing the mall. john robert came up with a very novel solution to deal with the problem. his version of self-defense is inside the foyer of his house. i recall finding the original papers from his family. and as the mob circle the house hundreds of men ready to kill him open the doors thrust open and that cannon was there in the foyer facing the mob. he had a torch in his hand and told them to disperse and they did. he made a stand and it was emblemati and then how john would conduct himself through the rest of the war.
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>>er so they bring in the main supply of speed to the revolutionary war so john glover is involved in lexington and concorde also to guard general washington from the battle longer help. and here john for did a very special relationship to form that level of trust. looking to solve a problem. gunpowder is necessary the
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colonists had plenty of guns but no gunpowder and the british knew it they tried to disarm syria gunpowder. but to bring in that crucial gunpowderai but it would be a novel way that washington would capture more gunpowder by attacking the british stores in halifax to put the ships to do that operation. he turned tona john glover to create a navy. and then ev which is preposterous, basically to take a fishing boat, the hannah, 74 tons, and somehow take on the greatest navy in the world. that's exactly what they did and they attacked british ships. the story of the needy is extraordinary. some of the most colorful captains in american
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history, the red dragon that has an incredible sense of humor. martindale who decides to outfit the gun spends a lavish amount of money but then immediately captured by the british and martindale spells out the crew to the british. martindale is an amazing story. they put his crew in irons into the navy vessel and is freed with some of the officers making his way when he is imprisoned as well by the british navy but somehow escapes on foot and makes his way down the east coast all the way to washington but the grand tale of the her rolex in the process. then goes on to fight again.
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there are so many amazing stories within the navy itself, they attacked canada without authorization, there is a mutiny, one of the first in the united states history. but they also capture critical partnerships at the right time and right place. another individual i like to talk about is doctor nathaniel bond. the harvard trained resurrection us who is a body snatcher. there was a critical shortage of cadavers at the time. people, doctors word raid graveyards to snatch bodies to work on them to find out anatomy. but the professor is an extraordinary hero he is on the island working on the
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inoculation. and here he saves many marble headers. he is at the forefront of smallpox it is is specialty and expertise. he is a member of the marblehead regiment in trains and drills with them. and participates in the battle of lexington and concorde. and then to treat the british soldiers that are wounded and the patriots in the town believe he is now a loyalist and his house is surrounded and he writes an extraordinary letter where he bags for his life to say there are thousands of people that would
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kill him at any moment. and then to bring me to a court martial to reveal the true acts of what happens. and to have the court-martial in the facts are revealed and he is exonerated from the state crimes that he didn't do anything wrong. that is what he is supposed to do. but instead of melting away and not being happy with the situation, he decides to fight. he joins the regiment and then he goes on to be a company commanderhe. he fights through all of the major battles of the american revolution. which is extraordinary in and of itself. and that is the battle of trenton when half of the
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regiment goes back to marblehead. they have a reason to go back. marblehead at the time is economically devastated.g. many are starving. they go back to protect their wives and loved ones and families. many stayed on along with other men and continue to stay on in washington himself asked doctor bond to inoculate the army. at the time the virus was killing nearly 20 percent of the army. it was being devastated by and doctor bond sets up all of the inoculation facilities and supervises and manages the entire process and inoculates the army. some saye that's a great a strategic decision that the
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one that was initially labeled loyalist dies and parishes from basically inoculate in the army. >> he is an ordinary guy - - an ornery guy and and intellectual in many ways of the early revolution. he believes in republicans with a small are of service to country over self. he takes abstract concepts and really make some reality. but he also takes one of the
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largest trading fleets in the colonies which he and his family own and converts them into supply lines. as i mentioned earlier, what they needed was gunpowder all of the major operations the british were conducting at the early part of the war was to take our supply of gunpowder. without gunpowder no revolution couldld be fought but he comes up with the concept one of the first in writing to talk about foreign alliances and other marble headers forge the alliance with spain. and through his contact and has gone on 20 or 30 years that he forges a vital relationship and they bring in the powder to the colonies. he is also the future vice president gerrymandering is
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named after him. bill of rights, the electoral college, all of these are part of eldridge gary. what i willl talk about really quickly iss the diverse members of this unit. in many cases, we onlyt know them by their first name. in some cases it is roman or greek like kato. these are extraordinarily individuals. and sound and forgotten. the importance of the marblehead regiment but the strength is the diversity but the greatest strength was there unity. these men were working together as a team. there are incredible members of this regiment kato prints.
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i looked up the tension files and they died penniless but they fought through the entire war through the most epic and great operations of the war to free the marblehead regiment and the army to safety multiple times. these are the forgotten members of the resolution they extraordinary and what they did. and diversity and model we would not see tragically for over 170 years in america's armed forces that these men and women the book covers some incredible women as well that did extraordinary things that were at the right place at the right time. and in many cases the sacrifice that they made is affect.
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marblehead alone had over 600 widows at the end of the revolution. it is that story and sacrifice the reason is why i wrote the indispensable's. for what they did that most americans don't necessarily appreciate. our founding story is our greatest story. and marble headers changed the course of history. thank you very much. i'm happy to take questions. >> this has been a great introduction to theha book i'm glad people have a chance to read it. here's a question about the cohesiveness of this unit. how did this diverse group become aan cohesive unit?
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think of modern soldiers acting as one. did that happen here? how were they successful and make that happen quick. >> it has to do what happened prior to the revolution. in many cases, many men were onat fishing boats. where life-and-death decisions had to be made within seconds and the color of your skin or your race was irrelevant. it was about trust. trust in the teamwork was forged over yearsme of time. many of them had forged those bonds of friendship and bonds of family where many men were interconnected through familial ties and best friends. i researched this extensively there was no desertion. i found a couple of examples
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which is unheard of for the 18th century american units where desertion was right but it was those connections with family and community that tied them together. >> another question from elizabeth. so after the campaign and the home? headers return you mentioned gary was next as one example that can you tell us about the afterlife quick. >> it is a complicated story. less than halfe of the unit stays with washington and this is an extraordinary moment. right before the battle washington uses his great oratory abilities to begin plead the army to stay. and then he steps forward and
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serves and many are marble headers and i as a result of that service including doctor bond. john glover along with other members of the marblehead regiment return home to marblehead. and he is made a general. as part of the new brigade they form a new regiment that many of the men take to the sea and in many cases many captains the marblehead captains become part of the continental navy such as tucker and the greatest fighting captains of the revolutionary war and it was still an incredible scene of ship to ship fighting.
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in some cases riding tubs and they literally have to make repairs on the fly or make their way to a a small cold there is hardly anybody there and drag logs out. it is quite extraordinary story of american ingenuity many are privateers unlike washington where they were members of the army literally at sea these are private individuals also earning a commission slightly different but working under the employee of the massachusetts government in many cases. many die including glover's son who diet see and many are never seen again. >> what is the average age of
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the members of the marblehead regiment? >> i was able to take the roles that existed and it is fragmentary. the average age was around 24. but it varied. there were older and younger men. the book captures a story of boy soldiers. and in many cases they were drummer boys got music was an important part to communicate during 18th century battle you needed drums to relay orders. many of the younger members were musicians drums or papers and went toso war with their
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fathers. we have extraordinary stories of father andnd son teams in the book. >> the recognition your book is a great example of how centuries later we can discover and recognize the service but what type of recognition did they received during their lifetime? >> most men and women received a zero recognition in fact most were bankrupt after the war. and what you see in the pension file applications after the war, they were lucky if they made it that long, they are penniless especially true for the soldier mariners of color. they are extremely impoverished. and glover himself is wracked with ptsd you can see that in
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his letters to washington. he cannot sleep. marblehead was a source of great wealth in massachusetts prior to the war the second-largest city and it is reduced to a shell after the war. individual families are greatly impoverished. in the book itself, in 1777 late 76 with the women of the townwn and marblehead is an important part of the book as well. one of the companies led by captain brown has a base there. they literally riot in the women of the town take up the muskets and read the food stores because they are starving. that this is a greedy war. it is a civil war americans are pitted against americans.
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impoverished to different more than most people have read in grade school history books. >> how did glover manage to bring together so many different people in this regiment? can you talk about the efforts to integrate? are there deliberate things like someone like glover needs to do to make this happen? or does that come out of the community. >> it comes out of the community there's no way to coerce people to serve as an important element and in some cases at the poorest members of the community as well as the elite members that all serve together side-by-side.
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you have glover and jeremiah lee that one of the wealthiest men in the colony, initially he is there colonel serving with the other members of the community which are not well off at all and they are not doing under coercion but because they feel it is their duty. what i find extraordinary is the amount of sacrifice as the war progresses. the community itself this bankrupt. there has been a tremendous amount of pressure tout return home to give up the war that now start many of these men continue their service against alll odds which i find extraordinary. >> we are here at mount vernon
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so it's a great opportunity to ask ae washington question what was the relationship between glover in washington? did they share intimacy? was at a frank relationship? >> they did. >> that is a important relationship and why these marble headers are indispensable. that relationship is forged early 1775 in cambridge and in a giant mansion that washington takes over as his headquarters and it is the marble headers that in some ways are the first to guard the headquarters. he's the first to request them because he forms a very intimate of trust and death
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the time later becomes in charge of the commander-in-chief starter and this relationship is incredibly important washington can trust these men of the most crucial inflection points of the war that american in dunkirk places his trust on the shoulders of the marblehead men later washington asks glover can you bring us across the river he said don't worryne my boys have got and they had it. they had that confidence in his men and washington had
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confidence in the marble headers. as i said earlier to be the indispensable man of the revolution. >> .gh >> and the shaping of that regiment. was it fishing coming in but there was more to it to be the regiment that they became. and then to undergone training prior to the more in and around marblehead and then to the tavern afterwards
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and then to forge these men what is arguably the greatest fighting unit too ever take arms for the united states. and also fishing in a grand banks and where they had to battle not only the royal navy the grand beings were unforgiving. literally hundreds of men would die from the sea. but that's another story because they were very tough individuals.
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>> this is from frank asking a bar about the marble headers. were any marble headers involved in any campaign including the southern campaigns of the war quick. >> not directly. after the trenton campaign, glover word operate in the north primarily. there is a handful of individuals that may have effectively served in the south another units because they traveled that w way one way or another but for the most part they had not operate in the south. but that was unique of the special operation units they have conducted for instance they had raids against the british and even launched a
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series of fire ships against the british in a couple of weeks before the battle of brooklyn where several men had died or perished as they drove their ships directly what were effectively british battleships one of those or several perished in the process but it is a story of heroism. >> this is a question about leadership and the leadership qualities washington had. not just washington but other key figures including glover is there a leadership trait you think is key to the success of this regiment? >> absolutely.
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this book is filled with leadershipfi examples to sacrifice their lives and fortunes for their lives and their country. and it is mind-boggling to try to describe this where at the end of the war many of these individuals were penniless and broken men. physically as well as emotionally and then continue but what are the leadership traits that they had and then we would be willing to do and then to lead from the very front. and then that leadership but that is a lesson of what we
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can understand. >> this is been a remarkable opportunity my camera is gone but i will stand here. thank you so much. what about the research project comes back quick. >> . >> to everyone that has stayed thisfo evening for my presentation thinking the ladies of mount vernon to sponsor me and allow me to conduct research in the finest facilities in america and it's one, i've never found a better place to write books band here at the house. it's a special place and i am
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extremely grateful for the opportunity to be here and conduct the research and write this book. >> the book is the indispensable one - - indispensable's. this is the official book release patrick is here to talk about this book pick it up now by now it's available at the mount vernon shopping thank you so much for being here with us tonight patrick and everyone. >> it was an honor
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