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tv   American Artifacts George Washingtons Crossing Reenactment  CSPAN  January 9, 2021 10:00am-10:31am EST

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american watching history tv, every weekend on c-span3. c-span3,history tv on created bytoday we are brought u today by these television companies who provide merrick in history -- c-span2 you as a public service. ♪ >> my name is kim mccarty. i am the curator here at washington crossing historical park in pennsylvania. 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
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military maneuvers of the american revolution. 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 camped in several locations around the area including the thompson neely house, which is part of our park. things are pretty desperate at this point for washington and the patriot cause. the continental army really needed a win. washington was afraid the british were going to invade philadelphia and take over the capital. he knew what he needed was a and after meeting with his war council they made the decision that on christmas
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night they would cross the delaware and marched to trenton to attack the hessian outpost at trap -- trenton. as they marched from the thomas aely house here to the ferry, snowstorm started. the weather was terrible. it was snow, hail. it was a pretty bad nor'easter. all of these men, 2400 in all had to cross the delaware and begin their march. there were other regiments who were supposed to cross that to other locations at the bristol ferry into they were not able to get a crossbar a variety of reasons and the weather was a major part of that -- costs for for a numberross of reasons and to the weather was a major part of that. >> make way for the general! i know it is a secret mission,
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but could you tell us about this mission? >> this is our final chance to make an impact in this war. is soldiers want to go home. i have 10 days, 10 short days in order to make this attack. we feel that with the weather behind us and the element of surprise on our side we will be able to take the city of trenton --se the morale of the truth raise the morale of the troops, proved to congress that we are a competent army. anmave you done operation like this before? last maritime operation
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was the retreat from new york. keep now we are trying to a river between us and the hessian mess in areas that are right now camp -- mercenaries that are right now camped in pennsylvania. >> tell us about your forces. what type of men are they? 3000 troops of which, 2500 are fit for duty. the remainder have fallen ill from malnutrition, from the weather and we are caring for them further north of the red there, but we have 2400 troops ready to go. they have 60 rounds of ammunition each, and we expect to give them a good fight. >> my name is frank lyons and i
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am portraying colonel john glover. colonel glover was the commander of the 14th continental regiment also known as the marblehead or glover's marblehead regiment. marblehead is a small town 10 miles north of boston. when the american revolution started it was the 10th largest force in the united states on the east coast. actsse of the intolerable of the british enactment that led up to the american revolution, most of the men in marblehead were unemployed and unhappy. they were happy to join the marblehead regiment. glover initially signed up 150 men. they did not expect to find themselves all the way down in pennsylvania. colonel glover and marblehead saved george washington three
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thes, the first after disastrous battle of long island. took -- from brooklyn into modern lower manhattan into saved washington's army from being encircled by the british. again that tells point when cornwallis was planning -- tells point when cornwallis was planning to trap washington in manhattan. 700 mennce again with held off for thousand british -- 4000 british and hessian troops. that gave washington time to escape from manhattan and fight another day. sectionforward to this of pennsylvania around the 22nd
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of december, glover marches into this area and he camps up the washington's headquarters are. --hington calls him into the into his headquarters and it tells him once in -- what he wants to do. glover mutters to washington, he says "your excellency, it is impossible." not askl glover, i did you to assess possibility, i asked if you could do it." marbleheaders can do it. that is when washington made the final decision to go ahead with his bold stroke, which did save
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the american revolution. a dozenpoint to maybe events that change the course of world history forever and one took lace on this ground where on this here -- place ground where we stand here. >> it is one of the three iconic parts of the u.s. revolutionary war. if you ask people, they will mention valley forge, washington crossing the delaware, and the bottle -- battle of yorktown. paintingknows of the of washington crossing the delaware. this river does freeze solid, but you do not get icebergs. >> the reenactment part of this, what will take place? >> we will start by seeing washington and his officers
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review his troops. we will hear washington give a speech to the troops. everyone will aboard the boats we have here and cross the delaware. >> tell us about the boats. >> the boats are one of the types of boats used during the crossing to get men from pennsylvania to new jersey. what is special about the boats is that they are large and they to haulginally made iron from the ironworks up and down the delaware. they were ideal from putting a lot of guys in and getting them from point a to point b. they were not the only boats used into they are not the only boats you will see used -- and they are not the only boats you will see used in the crossing. boats onn ordered all the new jersey side to be brought over to the pennsylvania
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side. particular, a ferry was used so you could get artillery and the horses crossed -- across. ♪ [playing yankee doodle dandy
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] ♪ >> make way! post for his excellency! >> glover, how do conditions look? >> your excellency, my returned fromhave the river. they tell me the river is swift and strewn with ice, but they are confident sir and determined to convey our army across the delaware this very night. >> excellent and remember it is
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victory or death. we will not fail. prepare your troops for inspection. >> thank you. >> dismissed. ♪
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[indiscernible] >> we have asked congress for food,- provisions, blankets. 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. these are the times that try men's souls, the summer soldier and the sunshine patriot
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will in this crisis shrink from the service of their country, but he that stands it now deserves the love and thanks of woman." my troops, you deserve that love and thanks. you are with us to continue that fight. i look forward to seeing you in trenton and remember, victory or death. colonel sergeant, prepare the troops to board. >> that i will. >> ready? --prepareo cast off! to cast off. to floatats were meant down the river, not across the
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river. theies took people across river. they do not maneuver well across the river. riverve to row them up then tack into the current. they were meant to float down the river and be pulled down the river and steered at the aft end boat, so no they are not very maneuverable. it takes a little skill to be able to do it. >> my name is leon vaughn and i am portraying a number of colonel glover's marbleheaders,
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a cod fishermen who helped george washington get across. >> how was the crossing today? >> it was easy. some years it has snowed, some years it has rained. today, perfect weather conditions.tell me about your betrayal >>. why do you do this -- portrayal,about your why do you do this? block menthat time, men were alack large part of the whaling industry. glover's men caught cod every day and this is the typical dress of a cod fishermen. the trousers, they are open so just in case you fell in the water, you would not have any water in your pants. they could drain, you could come
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up and you would not drown. the hat, if it got cold, you could pull it down over your ears. not like the tri-corner hats. everything was made -- what you wore was practical. >> [indiscernible] >> prepared to cast off! here, weguys being were here from day one. i had a cousin, we did research on my father's mother and he traced her ancestor back to 20 o africans that were on the boat that landed in hampton, virginia 1619.
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in thisace my ancestry country back 400 years. the internet has helped. i picked up a book out of the foundy and in this book i in the painting of george washington crossing the river, the man rowing the river -- rowing the boat to the right of george washington is a black guy. his name was trent's whipple. he was a servant of one of george washington's aids. he is the black guy rowing the boat in the painting. >> [indiscernible] >> we meet all year long to plan this. crew.are 48 boat
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300 soldiers crossing, a lot less than the 1776.hat crossed in if we had to wait for 2400, it would take all day. it took washington nine hours. they practice -- the boat crew practice on a local lake then we come down and practice on the river. the there is a lot of planning all year. there will be a meeting in january then a meeting next year. >> my father fished. he never owned a motor. when we were not fishing, we rode in the chesapeake day. -- chesapeake bay. was 10 years old.
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i started rowing the boat at 10. rowing this is just a reflection of my childhood. as a reenactor, i have been doing george washington for nine years now. it is a tremendous opportunity. as you look around here, you see hundreds and hundreds of visitors who come here just to see this one event. iconicny iconic -- an event. without this victory, the army would have collapsed. >> how did you get into doing this type of thing? historian, ieur have been doing reenactment for -- when you work your way up from a private to a sergeant when officer, you look at your predecessors and say again quote i could do something -- say, " i
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could do something different." i have had many successful crossings. onlye the fact that we not educate the public on what took place here and what it meant for our nation, but it keeps the site viable. 2013, we had six inches of snow in four hours. when i launched my boat to get across, you could not see the shoreline on either side of the river. they canceled it after our boat left because it was unsafe. it started sunny and a little cool. youhe time of the crossing, had six inches of snow on the ground. i have been here when it rained, anded and -- sleeted snowed. i am sure they were complaining
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about the same discomforts. i have a general staff. i also have a commander-in-chief's guard and the standardbearer who carries the commander-in-chief's position flag. that is how you know where the general is in camp or on the battlefield. is now in the museum of the american revolution in philadelphia. and pull! and pull! pull! and pull! and pull! and pull! pull! ofthe officers were aware
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where they were marching to and that they were attacking the hessian outpost. the man in the boats did not necessarily know where their destination was, but clearly -- aware aware what is that something significant was about to take place. they were cold, many were sick, they were hungry. they did not have the equipment as far as appropriate clothing that they needed to protect them from this weather so they did that -- did this under great hardship. they were brave and they accomplished something i know could not have done under those circumstances. they marched nine miles after to trentonng south into they attacked the hessians who were not expecting -- and they attacked the hessians who were not expecting to be attacked for a number of
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reasons. it was just after a major snowstorm. mosts also wintertime when armies went into their winter camps and stopped fighting. actually beenad engaged several times by some of the local militias in new jersey and were really on edge. this was not the type of fighting they were accustomed to. andhe time it was christmas there had been a major snowstorm, they were hoping to have the opportunity to rest a little bit. of course, that did not happen. they were attacked by the continental army, who was able to defeat them in pretty short order. the army stayed in trenton for a short amount of time, then brought prisoners --about 900 or so prisoners --back and crossed
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again. aticers were kept overnight the tavern here at mcconkey's very -- ferry. the officers were taken to newtown, pennsylvania a few miles from here. >> it is always the familiar history, where you have come from so you know where you are going. you try not to repeat some of the same mistakes. when i was in school, i hated history. the teacher was always teaching me about what somebody else did. i joined 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 given a lecture
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at an office of homeland security. it was there black history month black historyr month program. after i gave a short speech on black involvement in the independent dutch war for independence. involvement in the war for independence. whyy stood up and said " are you here teaching is black -- ory --black us history history?"s black teaching blackot history, i'm teaching american
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history." thehat do you think of painting? >> i think he was telling a story. he was trying to inspire people in germany at the time and their quest for revolution. you see washington crossing. who endsames monroe, up being a president. you see a flag, what we now call the betsy ross flag, used in the painting. that flag was not being used in 1776, but he includes that there. you're seeing to future a variety, this flag, of different people in that boat, which was just like the makeup of the army.
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