tv Lectures in History The Continental Army CSPAN August 27, 2019 8:58pm-10:08pm EDT
magazines, restricting firearms for those deemed by the court to be a risk to themselves and preventing individuals convicted of hate crimes from purchasing a gun. live coverage begins wednesday, september 4 at 10 am eastern on c-span and www.c- span.org. and if you are on the go, listen to our live coverage using the free c-span radio app. american history tv is lectures in history series continues now with a class looking at the american revolution and the continental army. we hear about how the american army differed from the british military and demographics, organization and officer selection process. this is about an hour. welcome everyone to another exciting adventure in the history of war. today we have gotten to the continental army so welcome to all of you and welcome to many of our new students watching from who knows where. happy 40th birthday c-span.
so today we are going to focus on the continental army and we are situating this very much in the broad history of war and the military. the continental army in a lot of ways is different from other armies that have preceded it largely because it is one that is very much based on ideals and certain concepts and beliefs rather than your traditional army. so what is the continental army. where is it? anyone? >> america. >> okay. continental army based in america. it will become the first united states army but before it is the u.s. army, it is the army of america, yes. but what element of america? certainly part of the american revolution. this typically the united
colonies. so, when does the continental army begin? it is not necessarily with the start of the revolution but we are going to pick up our story at the beginning of the war. couple classes ago we were talking about the french and indian war. and the french and indian war was a world war that fundamentally altered several different nations primarily france, britain, and the british colonies. and many americans had fought alongside british soldiers and british officers during the war. does anyone recall what were some of the things that required when the the two colonies interactive? >> in a lot of ways the british are looking down on the colonists for number of reasons and that had to do with a lack of formal military training.
some of it had to do with how they dressed. we know there is lots of resistance and there is a large aspect over who holds the higher rank. there is a colonial officer and does that outrank a british officer? british officers of lower rank outbreak any colonial officer and this infuriated the young george washington. our story begins after the french and indian war and the start of the american revolution. who wants to give me the standard answer, what caused the american revolution? >> the tea party. >> that's part of it. and taxes. give me the phrase. no taxation without representation. or taxation without representation is tyranny. perfect. from there, from taxes it is also more than that. it is about being treated as a full british subject.
and ultimately it involves violence. this starts after the tea party. there's the boston port bill and a number of intolerable acts that are going to shut down local government. it is going to bring into martial law over boston, massachusetts. the british under thomas page who was general military governor start seizing powder and weapons leading to increased tension. this is ultimately going to build to a potential chance to seize gunpowder and maybe even arrest sons of liberty, leading revolutionary figures who would be samuel adam or john hancock. and one result is this. the shot heard round the world. concord also heard the shot heard round the world happened in concord. one of the first shots of the american revolution is fired
when the british regulars meet up with colonial michelman. from mass militiamen. who fired the first shot? >> nobody knows. >> exactly. but who did the british they fired? the colonists reveled. the colonists they fired? the british. and it is from this that the war begins. this is initially michelle militia. a militia unit is anyone from the ages of 16-60. they would meet up once a month and drill and train in traditional trapping, sort of like the national guard today. most american colonists do have some experience with a gun, with a musket. more so than your average british soldier largely from hunting or fighting native americans. but they don't have former
military training of fighting in ranks and lines. shots are fired. the colonists lose and the british one here. but this is a profound moment that is going to begin the war. thomas jefferson is going to refer to this very specifically. it is unprovoked murder. in open violation of honor in defiance of the sacred obligation of treaties which even savage nations observe. what is jefferson getting up here? >> using what the british did, it was straight up slaughter. we didn't provoke them. they decided to kill us and even savages could comprehend. >> this is no ethics behind it. it is fundamentally immoral. he uses this idea to say that what the british have done is something that is so barbaric, to use a term that this cannot
be looked over. this is beyond right now. it is justification for the war. we talked about the idea of a just war principal. what makes a war just in a list every circumstance? it basically comes down to who attack sue. the americans are presented as an aggrieved party. they are fighting a defensive war which means what? >> they are in the right and their war is just. largely based on, a swiss philosopher who was law of nations is going to cast the correctness and the morality or the honor of war based on who starts it. if the british start the war it justifies american resistance. meanwhile, we have another battle at concord bridge named that because it has a bridge.
so the americans are successful at concord bridge even against more trained, skilled british regulars. why do you think this is? you may remember this from william wallace a scottish rebellion. >> you have to cross the bridge chokepoint meeting numbers don't matter you have to funnel in. and this is where you get the traditional shot heard round the world if you believe the 19th-century poland. this is where americans under orders fire. at lexington both sides were under orders not to fire. so, when we think of american colonial militia men fights, we probably think of the romanticized notion of the minutemen. what are the minutemen? >> someone who is ready to fight in a minute. >> they are going to jump out of bed fully closed, but their
hat on, grabbed their musket and run out ready to fight. an average musket at the time takes a minute and a half to load. so what's in a name? the idea is the militiamen are fighting in regular style, what we would call today in a guerrilla style. why the americans developed this style as opposed to the british who are fighting in open rank formation as they would in europe? >> they had to defend themselves against the native people that were living in the americas when they got there so they had to adapt to their tactics so they learned from the indians. >> they had to adapt over centuries. >> also the british were equipped to fight in that style of warfare so they would be marching in rank. >> we have seen this specifically if we think back to the french and indian war where the british army is defeated by french and their native allies using the same
tactics. >> the british had higher numbers so they had to adjust the fighting style to accommodate for that. >> they have to accommodate and adapt to their enemy. the perception on the march back from concord is the attack from the tree line. you will see them fall from hidden positions on the exposed flight, the exposed side of the british army. what is interesting on this long march back, think about this. the british army is marching back after doing an immediate march at night from boston to the outskirts and then marching back and limited ammunition. they can just be picked off. what we see on this map is you will see these explosion marks. every time you see that it was actually a moment where there was a battle. despite the comment romanticized element of their hitting, running and hiding behind trees like mel gibson in the patriots, there are
pitch battles. basically it will force the british to retreat to boston and defend themselves. ultimately the british will attempt to take four or five colonial positions at bunker hill which as every other trivia fan nose was actually fought on a different hill. americans lose but with heavy casualties. this is not the continental army. these are colonial militia forces. there was a pretty good one loss ratio. the one at concord forced to retreat to boston. the idea that the british one and the heavy losses lead to running out of ammunition. it is the fighting in massachusetts that forces the unified response by the colonies. the question is is this america's war or massachusetts war? the continental army is
going to be formed by the continental congress and we get george washington as commander in chief. he is serving based on my countries honor and my own character which is very different than the young washington we talked about in his early 20s where he actually resigned his commission and he says for his own honor and his country loyalty. so, it is a fundamental reversal of the roles, washington saying i am taking this up for duty to the nation , he is saying i take my orders from congress. i don't function as a military dictator. meanwhile, there is some opposition. a lot of it comes from this man , his name is charles lee. you may remember him from a two second reference in the hamilton musical. he is a general. charles lee, british trained.
he has been around europe trying to change his rank. he thought he would be one of the people named commander in chief. there were others as well. and lee in a lot of respects is british trained and he does not think americans can win fighting in traditional european style. and he thinks the americans should be using this guerrilla style, hit-and-run militia style and maybe even retreat west and make the british chase them. washington is fundamentally opposed to this. washington uses multiple styles and he is very much trying to fight the war more on the traditional european style. there are a few reasons why. one of them is he is concerned with the reputation and how this revolution will be viewed internationally. if they are fighting as other europeans do and in a gentlemanly civilized way, it will be respected. if they are not, then they may
not gain alliances or support from other nations. so there's this difference of opinion and these two will clash many times throughout the revolution. ultimately washington will prove successful but that is a story that is coming. anyway, washington is going to take command and he is going to meet the now continental army in boston in late spring of 1775. this is right after the battle of bunker hill. at first the two sides don't get along, particularly the militiamen of massachusetts. if you think back when we talked about early colonial warfare, the massachusetts militia in particular elects their officers. in virginia where washington is from, they were appointed. so what is the problem with elected officers versus appointed officers in any sort of fighting force?
>> many times it becomes a popularity contest rather than skill and people are often willing to order their friends in combat. >> when you are voting on who is going in, i feel like more people don't run as much. it is like i'm going to do this because it seems cool. >> often times who was one where those who have the barbecue. so washington is going to's try to stack his army and he will have a certain type of individual to be an officer. every man is a gentleman. in the 18th century it meant something different. a man of reputation. a man of morality, bravery and valor. washington said if you are a gentleman, of honor we can translate that to military.
america doesn't have a military and they don't have a professional army. who are your officers and your soldiers, just regular people. no formalized training. some fought in the french and indian war. very limited overall. so, here are the british trapped in boston. you will see on the map. the british forever retreating. any of these elevated positions you have american, continental army who forces the british out. the british are going to evacuate boston and the data that was actually two days ago, march 17. here is a big overarching map of the campaign. the war goes from 1775 to 1783. the last battle is in 1781
technically. if you are the british what are your tactics here? how are you going to be the americans? >> numbers. amex appear here army, hands down. >> snuff them out. get them to quit and cut them off. >> have you cut them off? >> the navy. you blockade the coast. and then the british are going to make another tactical decision. they believe that since the war has begun in massachusetts if you cut off massachusetts what can you stop? >> the word. the mac had you cut off massachusetts? >> you create a border and you cut them off from the ocean. >> you blockade them. >> don't you blockade the hudson? >> you take new york and got the hudson and you split them off. this is one of the worst kept military secrets. washington knows they are going to attack there and the
british know they are attacking there. so why attack there? >> it is the only thing they can do. >> the british know they have a good shot at the harbor and they can use their navy. washington is reluctant to defend this. the continental congress that you must. what is the basic obligation of government? >> protected citizens. >> there you go. if they don't do it they are failing just as the british have in attacking their citizens literally at lexington and concord. the declaration of independence is read right before the battle of long island. these are the reasons they are getting some of the chief reasons for breaking away from britain. the king, george iii had abdicated government here i declaring us out of his protection and waging war against us. so how do you split with the king? a breakup letter.
he is no longer your king. he has done something wrong. at the same time the americans are taking issue with the conduct of the war, particularly the british are to hire mercenaries known as hessians. they are from the german state and the popular belief is they are mercenaries fighting purely for money. they are actually an army that is rented out by their prince. they are fighting for regular wages it is just the prince is cashing in on this. so, the battle of new york does not go well. in fact, there are numerous retreats. here's washington's retreat from long island to manhattan island. extremely difficult moving an army across anybody or of water but washington proved quite successful.
the british are easily going to take new york. the continental army is forced to retreat. literally crossing the bluffs. traditionally a major defeat like this would be crushing to a war. crushing to a commander. it is how washington interprets this and how he uses it to change the way we look at the military and warfare. how does he do that? well, he studies. washington complained about his defective education his whole life. he never went to formal school. how did officers learn to become officers? there were a handful that had been trained to the british. how do most learn? >> they get a book. >> two of your most successful generals, henry knox and benedict arnold, an american hero up until certain time anyway, both sold books.
so, maybe a little simplistic, henry knox came the head of artillery because he read a book on it. so they are in many ways self- taught. they are going to military text to learn how to be officers and soldiers. and religion on the idea of which there is an ethical basis . honor consists in the constant practice of virtue and the duty of a soldier is honorable and honest were properly performed. the idea is that if you act well in a battle or campaign you are doing your duty and you receive honor. used to be honor was only for the victor. james wolf who had been a british general that died during the french and indian war in quibec is going to say also the character of your armies. not a vicious irregular army, but the virtue, courage and
obedience of the troops are sure guard against all assaults to execute their part with honor and spirit. so you don't want a drunken vicious army pillaging and brutalizing. >> you can't organize them and they can't maintain order. >> they can't maintain order and that breaks down the military. the revolution is about ideas so who do you want on your side? >> gentleman, but who else? >> you are fighting for a better america. >> you don't want to upset the delicate talents between potential patriots. frederick the great, we read about him. he is a russian general. at this point numbers are an essential part of war. the general who loves his honor will take extreme care to conserve and recruit his troops.
he is taking his concern with the well-being of the average soldier. what is so shocking is you think about war and the common soldier prior to this, whether it is in the british army or pretty much any european army. you joined the military because you had no other strengths. so they were viewed as expendable. so what is frederick the great doing here that is fundamentally different? >> he is talking about how the numbers of your army is really important because each individual man could be the tipping point. like a single person could make you win or lose. >> you are dependent on the conduct of your soldiers. at the same time for washington what happened if the army is defeated? if he loses too many men? >> the revolution, the war is over. there's an understanding of the soldiers is something
different. another british general, published a book that the continental army's take seriously. when an officer has the misfortune of being beat, his honor will suffer by it provided he has done his duty and acted like a soldier., at some point an officer will lose. and it shouldn't be an officer chasing victory or a potential victory. so long as they put in a valid effort when the odds make sense they can be honorable. they are performing their duty. washington is literally going to relay this to the marquis of lafayette, he says no rational person will condemn you for not fighting with the odds against you. while so much is depending on it, all will censure a rash step if it is not attended with success. what is he getting at here. >> it's okay if you decide --
if the odds are against you, don't do it. but if you have a small chance that the odds are with you and you brush it. >> you have an obligation to preserve the army. some of it is maintaining an army in the field so the revolution will stay alive. some is protecting them and it is not this complete difference in the british army were you still have the aristocracy. there is less difference between your gentleman officer in your soldier. so, washington is going to use, again going back to fabian tactics. this is the general fabius. the classic defenses that are first employed in the classical era. fabian strategy which we talked about long ago involved a defensive war, so a defensive war implies fighting
it makes sense for you, forcing the enemy to act. so washington is only going to fight what makes sense for him. otherwise he is going to retreat. he will literally retreat from new york through new jersey. he has the british chasing him particularly general charles cornwallis as you may remember from such films as the patriot. anyway, he actually refers to washington as the fox. and he treats it as a game and a hunt. he is literally hunting washington and washington is literally running and hiding. so he is using the fabian tactics, he is using it because he wants to maintain the army. when the situation is in his favor, such as here crossing the delaware, he is able to spring these elaborate, difficult night crossings of the river where he attacks and
keeps and preserves the war getting the americans this big moral boost at a time when commissions are running out. it is from fighting this war fighting defensively rather than being ultra-aggressive. the idea of the older model of attack, attack, attack. washington is going to view the army very differently. he is going to say i should hope every post would be deemed honorable which gave them an opportunity to serve his country. by this, he needs soldiers and officers. anyone can serve. he also expands it to anyone in the military and that could be civilians providing food and clothing. it could be women taking collections to feed the army. it could be even african- americans who were joining the army to serve in a variety of capacities. it expands the definition of
who is a gentleman? a gentleman was a really hierarchal term. but as early as 1775, right at the start of the war we have a new term created and it is called the gentleman soldier. it is being used for the continental army. it is being used for the militia which are fundamentally different. they are still national guard units in the 16-60 range. gentleman soldiers were good contact of noble character. in the service of their country. they become honorable and these gentlemen by serving their nation. the duty to the nation rather than to obtain for a lord as we talked about earlier. every soldier should be highly advanced. if you recall back to the french and indian war the virginia militia had
started to promote based on merit rather than based on status. soldiers have to regard their duty and become honorable. they don't have to be victorious. this is carried on to other officers, general anthony wayne. another officer in maryland, john howard. the idea is that honor is for soldiers, officers, and it is not just for the individual. how a person acts reflects their officers. how you be a would reflect on your kernel or your general and also the nation. meanwhile, we do have african- american soldiers both free and enslaved. so, does anyone know the first battles that african-americans fought in in the american revolution? a trivia question. >> bunker hill? >> there are african at bunker
hill but there are some earlier. >> lexington. mac lexington, concord, and bunker hill. >> the massachusetts ranks were not segregated. three african-americans had fought. and initially washington really resisted. he initially for bids enlistment, not just enslaved but also free african- americans. he is openly going to move back and allow free african- americans and ultimately enslaved african americans. the question is why the change? two schools of thought. one is the pragmatic. the british under lord dunmore who was the royal governor of virginia is going to issue a proclamation providing freedom for any slave who fights against the colonists. washington is shocked as are all slaveholders. washington response with the same offer. is this about men? the other
possibility is maybe he has a change of heart when he starts getting reports like these. we talk about a veteran of the campaigns around boston. so brave a man who behaves like an experience officer as well as an excellent soldier. not just any soldier but as an experienced officer. elevating an african-american soldier. general john thomas said they are equally serviceable as other men. all other men and looking at the conduct and honorable nature. it could be a little bit of both but we do know there are roughly about 5000 african- americans or so that served in some capacity with the continental army ultimately offering freedom. meanwhile, things don't go so well for
washington's army. in fact in battles in and around philadelphia, washington is going to lose. the capital is going to be occupied by the british army. this is one of the major low points of the war. and it is going to force washington to go on the defensive and retreat again. meanwhile further north the british have a plan and it involves this man, gentlemanly johnny. he gets the name because of his love of finery. love champagne and fine clothes. he is said to be a ladies man and even a playwright. so, the mission is they are going to march south from canada. another british force to march north from new york city and go along the hudson and cut off new england. problems with this are it is a long march through treacherous
terrain. and he has an exceptionally long baggage train. he is looking a lot of stuff. he had a cart dedicated just to his campaign. why are you dragging your champagne through the woods of upstate new york you may ask? it is not as ridiculous in the period that is because british officers, particularly generals of high rank were expected to entertain for other officers and also the officers wives who would come in campaign. i would stop and requisition a house and they would have a party. if you can't fill these parties, it is really calling into question your character. so he is moving along with native allies. the native allies are getting terrified saying this is not good tactically. we have to be aware of ambush. and he says nonsense and they would march further along.
ultimately be continental army led by horatio gates, a british trained officer also fought with washington in the french and indian war is going to manage to cut off his army. and gates will say he single- handedly won the victory. but there is another man that says he single-handedly does it and that is benedict arnold, american hero. so arnold despite defying orders, horatio gates and arnold have had this ongoing feud about command and rank. largely arnold had been loyal to general phillips tyler. you probably remember his daughters from again another musical. and he is really resistant to gates. arnold is ordered by gates to leave the battlefield but he defies orders and single-
handedly charges in and stops potential retreat and he pushes it forward. ultimately there's a victory in saratoga and arnold is going to be winded and shot in the leg and he will fall back and his horse will fall on top of him. and his men are going to rush to him and carry him off the field as if he was a spartan soldier. and he is asked general, how are you? and he said winded in the lake. he said i had rather it in my heart. so he is looking for this glorious end, this romantic, classical death. and had he died right there, he would be probably one of the greatest american heroes of all time. now because of the saratoga battlefield they just have a statue of where he got shot. a patriotic life, it is the rest of him that is the problem. >> he surrenders this army and
it is a major turning point. there are negotiations going on with france and it proves to the french that the americans could potentially win. the french are willing to get into this war sometimes for no other reason than they don't like the british. other reasons are they hope to gain back some of the land they lost from the french and indian war. so the french come in. and there is an alliance formed. a peace treaty of 1778 and it is an alliance between the americans and the french. the french are going to send money and supplies and ultimately in army. it will take a little bit. but more importantly what is france's most important contribution to the american revolution? >> the natives. -- the navy. >> the french navy is comparable in many respects.
that is what cut off a lot of the british advantage. so, as news of saratoga spreads, washington is that the darkest period of the war. he is in valley forge in camp in snow short of supplies, short on clothing. meanwhile, horatio gates has won a grand victory. and gates becomes the hero of the north and he starts potentially conspiring. washington is just lost. he has just had a fall. maybe he isn't right to leave the army some say. and this is going to be during this period of victory in the north and defeat in and around philadelphia and it will lead to an attempt to unseat washington. before we come to this, the winter encampment at valley forge is crucial. one of the reasons it is
crucial is because armies in the 18th century don't fight in the wintertime. you have campaigning seasons. you fight in the spring and fall or summer but not in the winter. it is during the winter that the army is able to train itself. they had a hard fight since the war began. and who helps train the army? washington also had been performing plays in his off time. it is this man, the baron and he is going to be responsible for bringing in a european drill masters concept. the problem is he doesn't speak any english. most americans don't speak any german. so how we do it, he would create a model unit and he would yell at them and parade them in german and show them what to do. that model unit would then show the other units what they needed to do. it is on a unit by unit basis.
the continental army was trained to fight with european army. there was actually a creation of this regulation which is basically a code of conduct and drills for the continental army. they create a book as many of them have learned so they are creating the basis of forming the european-style army. here are some images of the drilling. meanwhile, back to the conspiracy that comes to be known as the conway cobol. this is general conway. he was irish. he had many followers join the continental army. they said you have an accent and here's a commission. many europeans could embellish their military record and you could rise very quickly and here is gates. gates and conway, there's a
question of what actually transpires. but there are potential attempts to put gates in command based on his record. and it was largely nothing but washington believed it to be true. but he still trusted the supremacy. ultimately he found out and gates is shamed and has to back away. meanwhile, charles lee comes back. where was he? he had been captured and he had been a prisoner of the british army where he may or may not have committed treason . in the late 19th century a document was found that lee had drawn up a plan to tell the british how they could defeat the americans . the question is was this done with false information or was he literally trying to betray the american? i leave it to you to judge. no one knew that the time. lee returns.
he had been in the cabinet for two years and the war sort of passed him by. but he has been this constant adversary of washington. he was british trained and he fought throughout europe. this all comes to a head at the battle of mom is in new jersey. he is given command of the vanguard initially which is a prestigious position leading the army at the front with orders to attack. washington appoints lafayette. lafayette excepts. lee is now upset that a junior officer has been placed in command rather than him. he demands the position. he accepted and he marches out. his force is facing the british. ultimately is a direct or implied orders, but he is supposed to attack and he
retreats instead. washington catches wind of this. it is actually a drummer who is running back and washington grabs hold of him and he said what are you doing? >> i don't know sir we are retreating. >> washington charges and he runs into a retreating lee. and he said what are you doing? and he says um, your excellence, and he calls him a coward. publicly. there are all these mythical languages and trees shook up the sound of washington swearing. he relieves them of command and personally charges in widening a potential retreat. this basically stops any challenges to washington. lee is going to actually demand a court-martial saying
that his honor has been infringed on and he has been insulted by washington but the court-martial finds in washington's favor and fines against really so lee start publishing pamphlets on how he has been wronged and he challenges washington to a duel. -- to a woman to a duel. there ultimately is going to be a real dual fought to defend washington and washington is opposed to this. it is basically the end of charles lee. and the end of any push against washington. there is going to be aid to the continental army. not just with men but equipment and training. meanwhile, philadelphia -- the british are going to evacuate
philadelphia. now the question is who is going to be placed in command there? perhaps you're recovering battlefield hero known for his gallantry and his selling of books, benedict arnold. benedict arnold is recovering and he is given this prestigious command. he wants to fight but he is not ready yet. he is given this position that is prestigious and he accepts. the problem is he is full of himself and he talks a lot and he talks too much and he runs his mouth. congress does not like him. he feels he is constantly passed over by other, lesser officers, inferior officers that have been promoted over him. and he has brought up on charges before of using government property and pillaging, some other charges that no one knows about until after the war.
and he is placed in charge here. but congress demands he swear and oath of loyalty to them first and arnold says how dare you. look at what i have given to the country. arnold set up his military governor and what is his first act? he throws himself a party. he invites no members of the continental army. and he ends up marrying peggy shippen who was from a loyalist family. it is through her that he may or may not meet the acquaintance of a british major named john andre and there is correspondence that will ultimately lead to treason. arnold gives him self a code name after a swedish king and general. meanwhile, the british have a
new plan. go south, young man. the british are going to turn their attention to the south. they are constantly chasing loyalists. they feel like if they can link up with loyalist in america it will help turn the tide of the war. they really have faulty intelligence, some even dating back to 1774 from governor hutchinson and most of the colonies aren't for this. who is going to be sent is charles cornwallis. from charleston he is going to place her in south carolina and the idea is to march north. who is first in command during the early days, particularly at the battle of camden is going to be horatio gates. the great northern hero go south.
it is this crushing defeat that gates is going to retreat. some reports say 180 miles further than his army. how does he do that? he literally runs away. he runs from the british. it is actually about 70 miles but this is basically the end of horatio gates. because it is viewed as cowardly and viewed as ineffective. this is just proving everything that was in some ways duplicitous. alexander hamilton who was washington's eight is going to famously joke that he is not shocked that gates actually did this but that a man of gates is age was physically capable of riding so far. >> that is the end of horatio gates. who was put in charge instead is general nathanael greene and he is from rhode island.
he is what we call a fighting quaker. he is a quaker and they are usually pacifists against war but he is very much in favor of a resistance and fighting this defensive war. he achieved general in the southern campaign. the south is very much dictated by partisan fighting and that i mean loyalist first patriot. not necessarily traditional continental army or british regular army, they are different bands of loyal. this is where you have mel gibson and the patriot or if you go to older movies, fighting in these guerrilla styles and it makes it very difficult often times to know who is who and it also leads to heightened degrees of atrocity for you have brutal fights between loyalists and
patriots. in one case you have a commander, rutherford who is in the carolina frontier area and news reaches nathanael greene of potential violation of harm coming to loyalist women and children, their homes and their property and he is denouncing this saying this is not the war we are fighting. we are fighting a war based on principle. a war of ideology and award that shows we are behaving better. we are ethical. we have honor. the british did not. proper treatment of prisoners, proper treatment of civilians. this is something that washington new. it comes to be known and highlighted again by this individual who is a british officer. it is jason isaacs and he also
gets a start to show how widespread the fighting is, it is a young teenager that goes on to become president and he refuses to clean and officers boot and gets a saber to the side of his head and vows to fight the british for the rest of his life. anyone? andrew jackson. you have all different ages fighting in combat. meanwhile, the north is plotting. after philadelphia arnold is ready to return to command. and he is brought up on court- martial charges while in philadelphia and he had been found guilty and his reprimand was relatively light. a public censure from
washington that basically boiled down to we wished general arnold conduct had not included this and it will change in the future. a light tap and arnold is furious. his last protector, washington has betrayed him. america has offended his honor. he is going to plot to make a daring change and effect to the british. he is going to angled to be placed at west point. before it was a military academy it was a fork. washington is shocked by this because he knows arnold wants to fight in battle. why does he want an outpost? but he agrees. west point is crucial for this right here. and it is along the hudson. what that is is literally a chain. a big thick chain that
stretches across the hudson river. what you think it is meant to do? >> keep out ships. >> tear the holes open. did what do you think? >> i say no. >> anyone say yes? so bottom line, no one knows because it was never tested. so you have batteries on either side. so the british never tested it but if west point falls and the chain and the garrisons and batteries are removed, what will they do? >> take the hudson. >> and therefore divide the colonies, which they've been trying to do. andre, this is his self-portrait, a very fashionable gentleman, is going to arrange to meet with arnold. andre is a british major, an aid to general clinton.
and arnold wants to meet with him. he wants to meet with him past american lines. now, if a british officer in his red coat was meeting with benedict arnold, the commander of west point, that would look a little suspicious, don't you think? so he tells andre to take off his uniform. problems. what happens the moment he takes off that red coat? he's a spy. so ultimately this correspondence, and andre is caught by a roving band of -- by these sort of roving ma ilitia men, there are questions of their loyalty. initially they're celebrated as great heroes, and andre identifies himself as major john andre of his king's forces and the sort of shocking display,
whoa, that are not british loyalists. so arnold is discovered. andre is ultimately going to be hanged as a spy. but washington in the continental army uses this great moment. there has been waning difficulty between the continental army and the civilian population at this point where the army had been complaining well the civilian population isn't supplying the army properly. what's the food? where's the clothing? or if it was it was being sent at exponentially high prices, war profiteering. meanwhile the civilians were saying how come you haven't won this war? you let the capital fall. you haven't been winning. but it's this moment that sort of shocks all of america together. it's a moment like 9/11 or pearl harbor that sort of brings everyone back. and the question is why. and it's sort of this
galvanizing moment. george weeden, the general, if we have not virtue enough among ourselves to check mr. arnold and lose ourselves in the grand object we ought to suffer. meaning we need to rise above this if we cannot we will lose and we should lose. washington's going to spin it and he's going to say this is a great thing. it's never happened before. how dedicated are americans that this is the first instance of its kind when, you know, more were to be expected and this proves the value of the army, proves the value of the devotion to the cause. and within a year we have a march on yorktown, which is the major final battle. and what's going to happen is corn wallace will move himself further north into virginia on a peninsula. why do you not want to put yourself on a peninsula? >> only one way out. >> only one way out.
why does he do it? >> the navy. >> he thinks the navy can aid him and he can retreat via the navy. through a late march of the french and americans jointly they are going to surround corn wallace on the peninsula and the french navy is going to cut off the british navy. so you're literally going to have a siege of yorktown where you're going to have serious injury works built and cornwallace doesn't have a way out and he's going to be forced to surrender. the british band plays the song "the world turned upside down," this is the allergy major battle of the revolution. it will carry on for a couple more years but this is it. why do the british stop fighting? why do you think? why do they stop fighting? they could have continued this war. there's a full army in new york. >> there was nobody left loyal to them in the country. >> you still have loyalists.
you have to win over the hearts and minds of americans, and that's problematic. >> expensive. >> this is costly. >> wasn't also there was issues in france. >> by this point the french are in, the dutch are in, the spanish are financing the americans, it's become a world war, in many respects, or an expanded european war. it's not in the best interest. so yorktown is going to be the last major battle. there are going to be small skirmishes here and there and what nathaniel green is worried about is a loan figure going past the terms of duties like griffith rutherford ar on arnold exceeding what they should be doing and dragging the war downward. as peace starts coming to an end, rumors start circulating of
peace. and washington has one less battle to fight. and it's within -- it's with his own officers. so this is newberg, new york, not far from west point, along the hudson. the british army is still in new york city. they'll remain there until after the war. and the continental army is sort of checking them and watching over them. and the problem was the officers had not been paid. why hadn't they been paid? anybody? >> the continental congress hadn't been set up, like money. >> they have worthless continental dollars. they had also been promised half pay for life. so a pension. problems? same one as before. >> it's a lot of money. >> yeah, and congress doesn't have it. so there's rumblings. especially if a peace comes what do you think these officers are afraid of? >> they don't have any other means of getting money.
>> they're not needed. >> or if they were injured in the war they can't work anymore. >> yeah, they're not needed and the congress may never pay them. so -- what comes to be known as the newberg conspiracy or the newberg affair, depending how you want to term it. continental officers will secretly meet. two things they'll discuss, one, a coup on congress, take over congress until they get paid or two, retreat behind the mountains, those mountains, and let the british march out of new york city and do what? >> take back -- >> whatever. until? >> congress pays. >> until congress pays them. fundamentally both of these are problematic and fundamentally both of these ideologicalical l against the american revolution. washington cancels their meeting and calls his own meeting. you can't meet, you're going to meet with me instead. didn't sound like that, but he might have.
known as the newberg address and he's going to use these words and let me conjure you in the name of our common country, as you value your own sacred honor, to express your utmost horror and detestation of the man who wishes, under any pretenses, to overturn the liberties of our country. march 15th, that was only four days ago. so what is washington saying here? >> if you do this you're dishonored. >> you're dishonoring not just yourself, but the country, what have we fought for? what will this become? he uses the term sacred honor. aside from me babbling about honor, where have we seen these two words, i bet you all have, trivia. >> like american text?
>> yup. >> the declaration. >> the declaration of independence, our lives, our fortunes and our sacred honor, washington purposely using words from the declaration to link this back, civilian supremacy, the ideals of the revolution over the needs or greater good of society. it's about the country. think of what we've accomplished. this has never been done before. and you're going to give it up? so what usually happens after a civil war or a rebellion or some sort of conflict like this, how do they usually end? think about in the classical era, or in english civil war, what usually happens. >> usually a treaty or a contract or a cease arms. >> who takes control? maybe a king or from where this new ruler or king come from? >> the winning side. >> think about oliver cromwell
in the english civil war or jew julius caesar, this military figure seizing power. this will not happen. ultimately this will appeal to them and washington does a personal thing. he's got a letter he's going to read. and washington has been losing his eyesight. and most people don't know this but he wore glasses but he doesn't want anybody to see them because they're not cool. also it's a sign of -- he didn't want to show weakness. he pulls them out and he puts them on and he reminds them of what he's given. that he's also given his sight. and this sort of -- the officers start crying and then they sort of embrace this as washington showing this sort of humility and this weakness, but basically this appeal to their idealism and the revolution is preserved and the army comes out as champions of liberty. but the last act, and probably
the most important in american history, in my opinion, and certainly the -- one of the last major acts of the continental army is this, it's in annapolis in december, 1783. peace has been announced. washington is going to surrender his commission as commander in chief to the continental congress. now, what is so -- what is so different? what is so shocking about this? okay. >> because everyone thought that he would be sort of in a position something like the king, because that's kind of where we came from, basically. >> so the sense that this has always resulted in some sort of -- >> person in charge. >> a dictator, king, emperor, lord, protector, this never ends well. washington is literally giving up power. this is a man who would not be
king. and this is where we actually get the term george iii, so over in england, king george iii is exha actually expecting washington to name himself king. why? that's what he understands. he's ultimately going to be told that washington is actually giving up power and he's shocked. he stops and he says, well, then if he does that, then he shall be the greatest man in the world. dramatic pause. so -- that's my new book, among other things. the idea of this is what seals washington's immortality. it's compared to the american cincinattis, the roman, briefly
granted dictatorial powers of rome and what did he do? >> gave it up. >> gave it back and returned to his farm and we said became russell crow. the gladeiator, loosely here. it maintains for all after that the army serves the civilian government. it won't be a dictatorship, not a monarchy, it's civilian controlled, embrace the ideals of the revolution. and this moment, in a lot of ways, proves that the ideals, that the continental army was based on actually held. and that's what's so profound and so different in the history of sort of warfare when we're looking at the armies prior to the continental army and then those after the continental army. we see ideological focus, we see it again later in the french
revolution as well. but we still see in the french revolution the rise of napoleon. we still see these failings. we still see revolutions and civil wars that fall to these sort of strong men or generals that seize power. it's washington who's the -- since the classical era, the first to do it and one of the few individuals to actually do it at all. so let's end there for today and thanks, everyone, for coming. all week we're featuring american history tv programs as a preview of what's available every weekend on c-span 3. the lectures in history. american artifacts. real america. the civil war. oral histories. t the presidency. enjoy american history tv now and every weekend on c-span3.
weeknights this month we're featuring american history tv programs as a preview of what's available every weekend on c-span3. this week we'll showcase our weekly lectures in history series, taking you into college classrooms around the country. on wednesday a look at world war ii and how american cartoons influenced the war effort. watch american history tv wednesday at 8:00 p.m. eastern and every weekend on c-span3. watch book tv for live coverage of the national book festival. saturday, starting at 10:00 a.m. eastern. our coverage includes author interviews with justice ruth bader ginsburg on her book "my own words," david troyer "the heartbeat of wounded knee," sharon robinson talks about her book "child of the dream," and thomas malone, founding director of the m.i.t. center for collective intelligence,
discusses his book "super minds," the national book festival live saturday at 10:00 a.m. eastern on book tv on c-span2. the u.s. senate comes back into session on monday, september 9th, with two important issues on their agenda, avoiding a government shutdown and anti-gun violence legislation. but before senators return to washington get a behind the scenes look with c-span's history program, the senate, conflict and compromise. here's a preview. >> the government under which we live was created in a spirit of compromise and mutual concession. >> thomas jefferson questioned the need for a senate. >> the founders envisioned. >> the framers believed. >> let's follow the constitution. >> the framers established the senate to protect people from their rulers and as a check on the house. >> the fate of this country, and maybe even the world, lies in the hands of congress and the united states senate. >> the senate, conflict in
compromise, using original interviews, c-span's video archives and unique access to the senate chamber. we'll look at the history, traditions and roles of the u.s. senate. >> please raise your right hand. >> sunday at 9:00 p.m. eastern and pacific on c-span. we continue our lectures in history series now with a discussion on the lead-up to the american revolution. we hear about actions taken by the british government, including the stamp act and quartering british troops in boston. this is just over an hour. all right. so today we're going to be talking about the imperial problem that faces britain after the end of the war in 1763 and of course the coming of the revolution. so if you have any questions pipe up. if not i'll be asking you
IN COLLECTIONSCSPAN3 Television Archive Television Archive News Search Service
Uploaded by TV Archive on