tv American Artifacts George Washingtons Crossing Reenactment CSPAN December 29, 2019 6:00pm-6:31pm EST
>> the house will be in order. announcer: for 40 years, c-span has provided america with unfiltered coverage of congress, the white house, the supreme court, and public policy events from washington, d.c. and around the country so you can make up your own mind. created by cable in 1979, c-span is brought to you by your local cable or satellite provider. c-span, your unfiltered view of government. [drumming] >> my name is kim mccarty. i am the curator here at washington historic park in pennsylvania. today is a very special day. we are doing a reenactment of george washington's crossing of the delaware river on christmas
night, 1776. what happened here is one of the most unexpected and daring military maneuvers of the american revolution. and the story is washington and the continental army, after having lost battles in new york and retreating across new jersey, came into bucks county in the beginning of december 1776. they encamped in several locations around this area, including the thompson neely house, which is also part of our park. and things were pretty desperate at this point for washington and the patriot cause. the continental army really needed a win. washington was afraid that the british were going to invade philadelphia and take over the capital. and he really knew that what he
was a bold action. and after meeting with his war counsel, they made a decision that on christmas night, they would cross the delaware and march to trenton to attack a outpostost -- a hessian at trenton. as they began to march from the river, a snowstorm started and the weather was terrible, there was snow and hail and it was basically a pretty bad nor'easter, and all of these men, 2400 of them all, had to cross the delaware and began their march. there were other regiments who were supposed to cross at two other locations, at the trenton ferry and at the bristol ferry, and they were not able to get across for a variety of reasons . the weather was an absolutely miserable part of that. ♪ >> make way for the general.
>> general washington, i know it is secret mission, but could you tell us about this operation? >> this is our final chance. this is our chance to make an impact on this war. the problems we have is our expiring,s arethis is our chann soldiers want to go home. i have 10 days, just 10 short days, in order to make this attack. we feel that what the weather behind us, the element of surprise on our side, that we will be able to take the city of trenton, raise the troops, and prove to congress that we are a viable army that they should support. and hopefully, hopefully enlistments will arrive. ,>> have you done an operation like this before? >> we have not. the only operations we have done of a maritime order were evacuations from new york, which was very well done and my hat is
off to the marbleheaders of massachusetts, who manned the boat that removed us from new york, then we retreated down to the jerseys to the banks of the delaware. right now, we are trying to keep a river between us and the hessian mercenaries that are camped. we are trying to stay between them and the city of philadelphia. >> tell us about your forces. what type of men are they? >> hopefully you keep this among ourselves, but we do have 3000 troops, of which i have found 2400 are fit for duty. the remainder have fallen ill from malnutrition, from the weather, and we are caring for them further north of the river. but we have 2400 troops ready to go. ,hey have three days' rations
three rounds of ammunition each, and we expect them to give a good fight. lyons, and i frank am portraying colonel john glover from marblehead, massachusetts. colonel glover was the commander regimentth , which was known as the marblehead mariners. marblehead is a small town about 10 miles north of boston when the american revolution started. are the same part of this part of the united states on the east coast. because of the intolerable acts, all those british and documents -- the british enactments that led up to the american revolution, most of the men at marblehead were unemployed and very unhappy, and they were happy to join marblehead regiment, which originally signed up 550 men. they never expected to find themselves all the way down here
in pennsylvania, though. colonel glover and his marblehad regiment saved washington and his army three times, this being the third time. the first time, after the disastrous battle of long island, glover and his men road rode 9000 men, horses, cannon, baggage across the lower east river from brooklyn into what is modern-day downtown brooklyn into lower manhattan. army fromwashington's being encircled by the british. and then it tells coin and then sailed up the east river, and was planning to march across, and trap washington in manhattan. glover held off 700 british and hessian troops. the british took between seven -- 700 and 800 casualties. that gave washington time to escape from manhattan and to fight another day.
to washington's section of pennsylvania around the 22nd of december. glover marches into this area and he camps up the hill near where washington's headquarters were. and washington calls him to his headquarters and tells him what he wants to do, cross 800 feet trewn river ice s under the cover of darkness. and by the, way the barometer is falling and we could be looking glover goesher, and to washington and says, your excellency, it is impossible. washington says to glover, colonel glover, i did not ask you to assess possibilities, i asked you if you could do it. he thinks for a second and says, my marbleheaders can do it. the legend is not written anywhere, but legend tells us
that is when washington made the final decision to go ahead with this bold stroke, which truly did save the american revolution. if you point to maybe a dozen events that truly changed the course of world history forever, and one of them took place right on this ground where we are standing here. ♪ it is one of the three iconic parts of the revolutionary war. if you ask anyone, even the smallest amount of history, they are going to talk about valley forge, which was an encampment, washington crossing the delaware, and the battle of yorktown. everyone knows the iconic painting, which was obviously painted in the 1850's based on the rhyme river, but everyone knows that painting as as washington crossing the delaware, and i will tell, you this river does freeze solid, but it certainly does not get icebergs. it is thick sheets of ice that go straight across. >> so, the reenactment part of
this, what will take place? >> we will start by seeing washington and his officers review his troops. we will hear washington give a speech to the troops, and then everyone will board the boats, the boats that we have here, and across the delaware. the boats.about >> the boats are one of the types of votes that were used -- types of boats that were used during the crossing to get men from pennsylvania to new jersey. what is special about the durham boats is that they are large and they were originally made to haul pick iron iron works up and down the delaware so they were ideal for putting a lot of guys in and getting them from point a to point b. but they were not the only boats that were used during the crossing. they are the only type of boats you will see used during the reenactment. washington, when he came to pennsylvania, ordered all the boats that were on the new jersey side of the delaware
brought over to pennsylvania, in hopes of slowing down any crossing that the british might do to invade philadelphia. so, the durham both were used , and in particular, a ferry was used. it is why they came to the ferry so you could get artillery across, horses across, because obviously you will not be able to get any of them into a durham boat. ♪ ♪
♪ we need coverage for many things that we are short of. food, tents, provisions, blankets. we have had citizens of philadelphia coming up to provide us with at least some blankets to keep you warm. it reminds me of the crisis by thomas payne. your sergeants have read to you. he wrote, "these at the times
that try men's souls. the summer soldier and the sunshine patriots will in this crisis shrink from the service of their country, but heat it -- he that stands it now deserves the love and thanks of woman." and my troops, you deserve that love and thinks. thanks.love and you are here with me now and continue our fight. i look forward to seeing you and remember, victory or death. colonel sergeant? >> yes, your excellency? >> prepare the troops to board. >> that i will. >> the durham votes, they were
meant to float down the river. they were not meant to go across the weather. river. but washington knew they were invaluable to move people. they don't maneuver well going across the river. it is a real art form. you have to roll them up the river and against the currents to get them into position. they were really meant to float down the river and be pulled down the river and steered with this big sweeper that is in the aft end of the boat. they are not real maneuverable when you're going across the river. and it takes a little bit of skill for these guys to be able to do it. >> my name is leon vaughan, and i'm portraying a member of
colonel glover's marbleheaders. 14th regiment out of marblehead, massachusetts, cod fishermen that helped george washington get across water. >> how was the crossing today? >> the crossing today was very easy. some years it had snowed, some years it has rained, and it has been cold. but today, perfect weather conditions. >> tell me about your portrayal. why do you do this? >> i do it because it is not in the average american history textbook about the 40% of unit.ed glover's because during that time in massachusetts, black men were a large part of the wailing and fishing industry. this is a typical dress of a cod fishermen. the trousers, they're open, so
case you fell in the water, you wouldn't have any water in your pants. they could drain and you could come up and you would not drown that easy. and the head, if it is cold, you could have it pulled down over your ears. hats.ke the tri-core wore wasg you practical. [indiscernible conversations] black guys being here, we were here from day one. i had a cousin. he did extensive research on my father's mother and he traced back to one of the 20 and odd africans was on the -- that was on the boat that
landed in hamptons, virginia, 6019, so i can trace my family back in this country 400 years. you have to go deep into libraries, you have to go to used bookstores, and the internet has helped also. i picked up a book out of a library, and in this book i of georgehe painting washington's crossing the river, the man rowing the boat to the right of george washington is a black guy. his name was prince whipple. he was a servant of one of george washington's aides, and he is a black guy rowing the boat in the painting. >> heave ho.
heave ho. >> we meet all year long to plan this. there are 48 boats. 400 soldiersout crossing, a lot less than crossed in 1776. if we had to wait for 2400, it would take all day. it took washington nine hours. about 300 today, and about 48 boat crews. they practice on a local lake. then we come down and practice on the river. year.anning goes on all inre will be a meeting january, and we will start planning for next year. advancedto have training because my father, he never owned a motor. when we went out fishing, we rode in the chesapeake bay -- we rowed in the
chesapeake bay. i was 10 years old. doing this is just a reflection of my childhood. >> as a reenacter, i have been doing george washington for nine years now. it is a tremendous opportunity. as you look around here and you see hundreds and hundreds of visitors who come to this park just to see this one event, it is an iconic event. it is something that is not only regionally important, but nationally important. without this victory, the army would have collapsed. >> how did you get into doing this type of thing and why do you do it? >> as an amateur historian, i have been doing revolutionary reenacting for 20 years. over the years when you work your way up from a private to a sergeant to an officer, you look
at your predecessors and you say, i think i could do a better job, or i could do something different. i have taken on the role for the last nine years and have had many successful crossings. i like the fact that we not only educate the public in what took place here and how much it meant to our nation, but it keeps the site viable. 2013, we had six inches of snow in four hours. when i launched my boat to go across, you could not see the shoreline on either side. they canceled it right after i went out there because it was unsafe to cross anymore boats. it started out as a day like today, sunny, a little cool. the afternoon, by the time of the crossing, we had six inches of snow on the ground. it certainly did feel like the period. i have been here when it rain, sleet it, and snowed on the same
day. the troops are complaining, they are standing out waiting to cross. i look at them and say, these were the conditions the troops crossed under. i am sure they were complaining about the same discomforts. i have a general staff. i also have a guard, and we have our standardbearer. you know where the general is on the battlefield or in camp, that specific flag. the original is now in a museum in philadelphia. >> and pull. and pull. and pull. and pull. and pull. and pull. and pull.
aware officers were where they were going, where they were marching to, and that they were attacking the hessian outpost. the men in the boat did not necessarily know exactly where their destination was, but thatly they were aware something significant was about to take place. they were cold. many of them were sick, they were hungry. equipmentt have the as far as appropriate clothing that they needed to protect them from this weather. they did this under great hardship. and dide very brave accomplish something that i know i certainly couldn't do under those circumstances. they marched nine miles after this crossing in a snowstorm. they marched nine miles south to trenton and they attacked the
hessians, who were not expecting to be attacked for a number of reasons. was justall because it after a major snowstorm. theas also the time of year, wintertime, when most armies went into their winter camps and stopped fighting, and the hessians had actually been engaged several times by some of the local militias in new jersey and were really on edge. this wasn't the type of fighting they were accustomed to. it was christmas and there had been a major snowstorm. they were hoping to have the opportunity to rest a little bit, and of course, that didn't happen. they were attacked by the continental army, who was able to defeat them in pretty short order. forarmy stayed in trenton
just a short amount of time, then brought prisoners, about nine hundred or so prisoners, back. overnight at kept the tavern here and enlisted, and eventually the officers were taken a couple miles from here. >> it is always good to know your history, know from where you come. that way you know where you are going, and you try not to repeat some of the same mistakes. when i was in school, i hated history. it was always teaching me about what somebody else did, not what my people did. now i have this hobby to learn what i did not learn in high school, nor in college, about real american history, all-inclusive american history.
one time, i was giving a lecture at an office of homeland security. it was there black history month program -- their black history month program. after i gave a short speech on the black involvement in the civil war, one of the white men in the audience stood up and said, why are you here teaching us black history? i said, sir, i am not teaching you black history, i am teaching you american history that just happens to be about black people. >> most people are probably familiar with the painting. what do you think of that painting? >> i think it is a lovely painting.
provide a trying to snapshot of the actual historic event. he was telling a story. in that painting, you see the story of the american revolution that he was trying to inspire people in germany at the time in their quest for revolution. so you see washington crossing the sea. up --n row, who ends james monroe, who ends up being a president. the betsy ross flag used in the painting. flag was not being used in 1776, but we already know how the story ends, so he includes that. variety of people in that boat, which was just like
[captioning performed by the national captioning institute, which is responsible for its caption content and accuracy. visit ncicap.org] university of washington history professor margaret o'mara discusses her book "the code: silicon valley and the remaking of america." you have whatace, eisenhower labeled the military-industrial complex. that becomes the foundation for this entrepreneurial flywheel of incredible creation and innovation and private wealth creation. and in fact, an industry that is considered an industry that built itself on its own, that become almostrnment has invisible to the people who are in silicon valley, who are the creators of these companies, these technologies. that is part of the magic, actually, that it is a government out of sight. >> tonight at 8:00 p.m. eastern on c-span's q&a.
pioneers talks about rosa parks and her long history of civil rights activism. iny highlight her influence igniting boycotts and nonviolent protests. this event was held to celebrate the opening of the new exhibit >> please welcome the librarian of congress, doc your -- dr. carla hayden. >> good evening. good evening. and welcome to the library of congress. have our pleasure to everyone here for a very special night as we open the library's newest exhibition, "rosa parks: in her own words."