tv Washington at the Crossing CSPAN December 24, 2022 10:10am-11:04am EST
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so. ladies and gentlemen, good evening. welcome to the kansas city public library. i'm crosby kemper third, the director of the library, and it's our pleasure to welcome you to dr. harry laver presentation on the 240th anniversary of washington inns crossing the delaware. an extraordinary moment in american history and for a treat from losses in. new york city so harsh where was
that general washington and his other senior commanders considered burning new york city congress forbade continental congress forbade the burning of new york city. the current congress would like to reconsider that. they faced the hessians, of course perhaps the most orderly, disciplined, perhaps the most brutal soldiers in the world at the time in the late 18th century, with the army and militia maybe the most literate, but the least orderly and ill equipped army in the world at the time, as george washington himself said, men accustomed to an unbounded that would be us cannot brook the restraint of good order. government of an army that army in retreat through new jersey. defended, by the way, by alexander hamilton and his artillery. they covered the retreat that
was before alexander hamilton learned sing, by the way. but successfully they retreated into pennsylvania. and then of course, across the delaware in what nathaniel said at the time was god's redeeming provider. and as they fought and won the battle of trenton and the battle of princeton, princeton by the which the hessians had captured. and as one hessian officer said, really wonderful library in princeton. he said. and then they promptly burned it. we've seen some of that recently around here that attitude towards libraries. it's an extraordinary moment in in american in american history. this ragtag army facing the most disciplined and most successful army in world coming out of the seven years war. and and washington, its leader
who actually though we know what a great commander he was today at the time his his greatest he of course, they captured boston. but by the time he got there, they were already surrounded the british were already surrounded in boston. his main experience war had been braddock's defeat and the defeat at fort necessity. and yet this great american who learned so much through was to command the great victory. and i'd just like to quote this from from david hackett fishers that's the last actually paragraph of his great about about this great moment in american history he said much a recent historical writing has served us ill because in the late 20th century too many scholars tried to make the american past into record of crime and folly. to many have told us that we are captives our darker selves and helpless victims of our history. it isn't so and never was.
the story of. washington's crossing tells us that americans, an earlier generation, were capable of acting in a higher spirit and. so are we. and so is dr. harry laver, who has himself a distinguished career as a historian. he's written about the art of command, edited a book and contribute to it on the art of command. from george washington to colin powell, he's written about kentucky the kentucky militia in the revolutionary and post-revolutionary era, very for this topic because of the importance of militias he's written about general grant and in his art of command. he's a wonderful historian at the command school at fort leavenworth, which is, you know, the has an ongoing wonderful relationship. it has a tremendous history. they're doing wonderful things at the command school. and we're honored to have dr. lavery here tonight.
well, first of all, i have to thank kirby and everyone here at the kansas city public, they've just been fantastic in supporting us at the staff college, in supporting speakers to come down here and have these kind of programs. and you been i was here last week for the and it was the same size crowd. so a credit to you for coming out on chilly nights like this and as a number you mentioned sort of harkening back to this kind of weather that general washington and his men faced, maybe even more so on saturday with the apparently coming snow that we've got how many of are familiar with this painting? all right. it's just about everybody. the painting itself painted by a german artist named emmanuel lutes. and for various pronunciations, he he actually traveled to the united states, visited united states, then went back to germany where he put together
this painting. i the painting that we now have is in the metropolitan museum of art in new york city. somebody seen it, right? it's huge. and it's a 12 foot by 20 foot massive, massive painting. the first version of this that that did actually had some fire damage while it was still in the studio. he did some repairs and then it went to a museum in germany in bremen. and in 1942, yes, the royal air force, a bombing raid destroyed the plane, maybe some going on there. but fortunately, he had he was working on another version in 1851 when he painted this. and when we look at this, there's a number of things i think we can we can note in part what he was trying capture was the spirit of the revolution and the spirit of the united.
and i think he does that that extraordinarily well. if we look at, for example, the figure at the front of the boat, not the very but the one leaning towards us with the north has on a scotch bonnet. recent immigrant on the opposite side of the boat. we can't him out very well but an african-american figure and as you make your way back, there's a person in red just sort of behind the flag. it's hard to tell. speculation is that might actually be a woman. and at the very back of the boat, the man you see leaning back, native american, and then we look a little closer. we identify actually a few figures. the man holding the the flag, lieutenant future president james monroe and then underneath the flag, right in the center out towards us is general nathaniel green, one of washington's division commanders on the operation that he's undertaking. not surprisingly, there are a few historical inaccuracies, right? washington in standing no, not
you know he right very much would have been sitting lucy painted this at dawn when in fact the crossing took place middle of the night. it wouldn't make it. it made a very good paying. so at dawn, additionally, the number of men this boat would have likely sent the boat straight to the bottom of the delaware river. the boats that they use for the crossing were known locally as durham boats. they were large, 40, 60 feet long, about eight feet wide, almost barges that a little bit more stable. so not quite the right craft. but again, i think it's it really does capture spirit of was happening with this event of course the central figure washington even though he's standing still it's washington with some of my students in class up at the staff college we've a debate every now and then about the role of
individuals in history. do individuals drive history or are events driving us collectively as the human race? another way to think about this is the great man, great person theory of history. are there indispensable figures in the past now? truth is and i think some of my colleagues here tonight would confirm this. historians don't really like the idea of an indispensable figure that one individual at any one time can dramatically alter course of human history. and i'll admit, i'm one of those who don't don't that idea at all. but for washington, i'm willing to make an exception. there's two or three events. i believe that really point to washington as indeed being an indispensable figure. and this event that we're talking about tonight, that the 240th anniversary is coming up on christmas and the day after just a couple of weeks away is one of those. so let's take a minute, if you
would, and go back with me to december the 25th, 1776. and place we're going to go is a small little can't even call it town can call it community village at the best place called mcconkey ferry on the delaware river in pennsylvania. it's about nine miles north of trenton, new on the opposite side of the delaware river. it's about 35 miles north of philadel at the time, the capital of the united states. and, of course, we're going there to join general washington standing on the banks of the river there at the time. general washington, commander in chief of the continental army of the united states of america, country that had just declared its independence less than six months earlier. in the hard to imagine at this point. hot, steamy independence hall in philadelphia. well, now washington is having
to undertake an operation in that. truthfully, he probably does not want to do as we're standing there with washington the weather is not very christmas day had dawned bright and clear it was around freezing. we might think of perfect christmas day as there was promise of snow, but as we got too late, afternoon rain began to fall. then mixed with sleet. wind started to pick up so the sleet would sting as it hit your face. snow then started mix in and as we're standing there with washington, what we're watching is washington's man, about 2500 or so begin to load on board those durham boats that i mentioned a moment ago those soldiers, along with artillery cannon pieces, along with even horses getting on board. and as they to load, it became more and more difficult because night was falling and the wind was picking up and the river itself, the delaware, the current was running strong and
there were ice floes coming down the river, always threatening to overturn boats. and then shortly himself began to board one of those boats. now i no historical evidence whatsoever from what i'm about to say. but i have to believe that at that moment washington's mind had to flash back, even if only for a few, to an event in his life more than 20 years earlier, that was hauntingly similar to what he was experiencing then. the year was. 1753. the royal governor of virginia, a man named robert dinwiddie, was concerned about what the french were doing. the western part of the british colonies western virginia, but even more concerned about western pennsylvania. and he decided he needed to find out what was going on out there. and so he selected, a young virginia militia major by the
name of george washington, to lead an to do some reconnaissance and communicate with the french british concerns. and on november the 16th, young major here set out on this expedition. now, along the way through great good fortune, he picked up a small man, a member of small party. the party was was listened desert probably really more about six individuals and this individual's that he picked up was a frontiersman. and christopher guest who today we could think of really rivaled daniel boone in his frontiers of frontier abilities. so washington in the small band set out as they make their way into western pennsylvania they pick up some indian allies a particularly a seneca chief named the half king. and this was part of washington's responsibilities to build relations with. those indians. well in about ten days, the force of the ohio the confluence of the menangle and the allegheny rivers, where they
joined to make the ohio river, where we know pittsburgh is located today in washington, immediately saw that militarily this was key. that was going to be essential conflict come with the french. but he found no french so he continued on north to the point that he almost got the to the shores lake erie before he encountered the french and there over the course of a few days he sat and talked with the french and conveyed the message from the governor of virginia and collected up the french response. and then he set on december the 16th to return back to virginia and washington saw this as an urgent task. he now had to get that french response back. so the small party sets but then to leather weather starts to delay their advance men start to falter horses start to give out washington himself is becoming anxious about this, and so he finally decides the group is
slowing him down. and so he tells the second in command, make. gather your strength. let the horses recover and then make your way south as soon as can. while i and christopher guest are going to set out alone, cross country get to the allegheny river to get back to virginia. the following day they cover 18 miles that they sheltered in an abandoned indian lean to the next day they set out again washington at this point was starting to feel the rigors the demands of this he was starting to feel a little bit weak. then through another stroke of great good fortune, they encountered an indian who offered to guide them on shortest possible route down to the allegheny river. and so they set out not long after setting out the indian offered to carry pack since clearly washington was beginning to struggle in washington agreed to let him do that a little later.
indian offers to carry washington's musket. and your suspicions well-founded washington decline to have him carry the musket. and at this point, christopher guest is becoming increasingly concerned about. the indian guide that they have stumbled upon and. not long after that, they came to a widening meadow, snow covered tree line on the opposite side. and as they're crossing the meadow, the indian is some distance out in front of the other two. and the sun starts to break through the clouds. and at that point, geist was able to get his bearings and realize that indeed the had been leading them. well from the allegheny river about that moment, indian reached the tree line, spun around fired his musket at the two men. now washington had been just sort of stumbling along he hears a gunshot. he immediately awakens from that. he sees christopher racing at the indian as fast as he possibly can go washington takes off after him guest is trying
get to the indian who himself is frantically trying to go through the loading process on a muzzle loading loading musket. this gets it gets to the indian just before the indian can level as musket gets levels his musket at the indians chest. at that point washington catches up and he stops guest killing the indian telling guest we can't just execute murder this man let him go and they did now. soon after that, both men realized the indian is likely to return and not by himself. and so they press on the rest of the day, press on overnight into the next day, no sleep, virtually no food. cold, freezing weather, late to following day, they finally reached the allegheny river. their hope is that it's frozen over so they can quickly, quickly make their way across.
it's not some ice on either side of the river, but running the middle of the river. a rapid current ice floes. they they can't stay on that side of the allegheny. so with the one hatchet they had, they cut down a number of trees quickly craft a pretty shoddy shove off into the middle of the river. each of them has a pole or a stick they're using to try to push themselves across the river. but the ice floes are but butting up against this raft any moment about to go over washington. at one point puts shoves the sticking to the bottom of the the river raft hits it into the river washington goes just enough strength he hangs to that raft guess who ends up with a pretty severe case of frostbite by the time this is over helps, haul washington out onto the raft. the raft lodges against the small island in the allegheny river and where they spend the night. how both of these men did not die of hypothermia. i cannot imagine washington,
especially having been into the river completely soaked in freezing temperatures. nonetheless, they survive the following. i don't think i say when they awoke because i doubt they slept following morning. when light comes, what they see, the river has actually frozen over. they cross over to a trading post later that day, get sustenance, get warmth, recover the following day. washington sets out again heading for virginia. and on january the 16th, 1777, one month after having departed for a meeting with the french, he delivers message to governor dinwiddie, 21 years old. he had shown extraordinary determination and strength of. now, not surprisingly, governor dinwiddie recognized this. washington and soon rose through the ranks of the virginia. and over the next couple of of years a well ten years he rises in the political world of
virginia in the military world and then came april 19, 1775, when lexington and concord takes place. washington in virginia was a representative to the second continental congress, where the delegates decided what to do. this bloodshed that had occurred in massachusetts. and very quickly they settled on selecting a commander for the military forces that were organized. and of course, that commander was george washington. from there, washington headed up to boston, where he took command of the army forces that were organizing to battle with the british. now, over the next year, from 1775 into 1776, there are some and engagements. but the next time we pick up our story that new york city, where washington has, the continental army there to defend new york against british forces that are arriving by the hundreds almost
every day. and in late august of 1776, washing ten escapes with his army just barely from the battles around long island in manhattan over. the next few months through september and october, washington and his continentals will battle the british and with one exception, virtually every engagement is a near disaster for washington and his men. it's defeat followed by withdrawal, followed by defeat followed by withdrawal of the british to chase them out of york city, out of manhattan island, across the hudson river, into jersey, across new jersey. the point that by late november. of 1776, washington british pressuring the whole way across the delaware river into pennsylvania, seeking refuge. well for washington. he had made some serious.
he was not the general we recognize today and indeed some his colleagues were very concerned. this man who was leading their army general named charles lee, had actually been an officer in the british, joins up with the wrote to his colleagues the indecisive menace of mind that was plaguing the head of the army and even one of washington's aides, a man named reed, wrote the same thing, referring to the indecisiveness of our commander. the truth was washington had been indecisive at these battles. he had not shown leadership. but and it's a important but washington was absolutely decisive, absolutely and fully committed and dedicated the cause of american independence while he made mistakes, the battlefield, he never wavered. for a moment that american independence the cause. and that's what he was fighting
for and there was never a question in his mind or wavering on that issue. now, washington is counterpart through these battles from new york and across new jersey. the general named william how in general how by the time we get to mid-november and into early december decides he's done enough. he's got the americans on the run. they haven't been able to really stand against him at any point. so let's call it off for the year. and this was common practice in that period going into winter quarters while the weather was not so good in the spring, you up the battle again. so on december the 14th, general house sends out orders. troops are going to go into garrison and various towns and be done for the year and it was not a bad decision why risk chasing after washington even further washings his army as decrepit as it was still, pose something of a threat. and after all general was
convinced that come. went the spring thaw melting snow would reveal the corpse of washington's army, and with that the corpse of the rebellion that had broken it will die of natural over the winter. so we're just to go into winter quarters now. washington for his part, of course, had no idea that general howe was going to call up the campaign season in washington, was concerned that once the delaware froze over, how would simply march into philadelphia, which politically be disastrous for the united states? so washington starts to think i've got to do something, i've got to do something. but what can do? what can i do? two weeks left till the end of the year. now, congress fearful of standing. army standing armies, the tool of oppressive governments that require extraordinary amount of taxes congress, did not like the idea of standing at armies at
all, so they had only approved year long enlistments for washington soldiers. congress preferred to rely on the militia, right? the citizen soldiers who come out to defend their homes wash. while he knew the militia had value, he wasn't overly confident them. at one point, he said, they come in. you cannot tell how they go. you tell when they act. you cannot tell where you consume your provisions. exhaust stores. and then at the last leave you at a critical moment. but that was all he had. he does gather about 6000 men there mid-december, knowing that two weeks on december 31st, the enlistment of the great majority of them was going to expire. and with that, his thinking was the same as general. how my army is going to die over the winter unless i do to change
the direction of this war. and so he looked at what the british were doing and what he saw is the british going into garrison just as general howard ordered from, we see general howe up there, of course, in york city and all the great things new york city has to offer down to philadelphia on the lower left hand side of the map. each place you see there's a little red circle. these were garrisons of british or hessian hessians, the mercenary cities, the german soldiers hired by george the third to help fight this war. and at this map, general washington's an opportunity at trenton, right about in the middle of the map, there was a hessian force of about 1500 soldiers under the command of a colonel named johann raoul. and the hessians had a reputation and a reputation as hard fighters and also soldiers who treated very harshly
civilians and their prisoners, but their washington saw a chance maybe to change the direction and momentum of this war. and so washington put together was plan that was audacious audaciousness surpassed maybe only by the complexity of plan that washington put together and what envisioned doing with these 6000 men was this break his army up into about four different units. the largest he would command himself and that force would cross the delaware river to the north of trenton swing down and assault trenton from the north and the east. another force of about 600 would travel down the western side of the river, crossed the delaware right at trenton, with the purpose of blocking the hessians means of escape to the south. yet another force about thousand
make their way even farther south. crossover at about where we see bordentown where another hessian force was. their job was to simply keep those hessians from reinforcing the other hessians at trenton. and then one last small force as reinforcements. the plan was each of these columns would converge just dawn the day after. now imagine in an era before cell phones, before before any of communication beyond man and horse, how difficult this was going to be to coordinate all these zones. this would have been challenging for general howe's army of professionals, let alone a group of militia part time citizen soldiers. so that's washington's plan. on christmas eve. one of the revolutionary leaders
named benjamin rush visited washington at headquarters there north of trenton, and rush recalled later that washington was nervous a little fidgety and understandably so. and before he left washington head washington's headquarters, rush looked down on the paper that washington had on his desk and what he saw was the password for the sentries for the next day in the river crossing, and the password was victory or death. and clearly washington was committed to this operation. so the following morning, christmas, as i mentioned earlier, dawn, clear, freezing, but then bad weather moved in. and at this point, we rejoin general washington there on the banks of the delaware as he's getting on board the crossing takes over the course of the
night it's 3 a.m. before all the men are across the river. 3 hours behind schedule realizes at that point he's not going to get to trenton before which means the element of surprise well be lost. nevertheless, he was not turning back at that point. and so he began to try to press farther south and this is a painting by sully from 1819 of washington overseeing the troops, crossing the the delaware. so at about 4 a.m., after getting all of his men together and in column they begin to move down the bear road on that nine mile journey down to trenton. and we see at the top of the map bear tavern in the path at washington's men took now about four miles from trenton. and this been planned out ahead washington's 500 or so split into two forces, one force traveled its way along the river road under, the command of a general named john sullivan. and they were going to approach trenton from the very north
along the river. the other half of his man under, general nathaniel green, who goes on to great fame in the southern campaign. i'm sure, as many of you know, takes a different path. they swing around and come in on the pennington road in washington, going to be with this column as it makes its way towards trenton. it's about 720. well after light has begun to through the skies that washington this man approached trenton and as they get closer and closer to the village washington is trying as best he can to maintain whatever surprise they might have. and some of the soldiers recalled washington was on horseback on the outskirts of town. and as the men passed by washington moving into position around the village, washington in a very low voice, telling them, stay by your officers, stay by your officers, for god's sakes, stay by your officers. and then they made first contact
shots, exchange with some of the hessian sentries. very quickly there, those sentries were overwhelmed by the of americans coming out of woods, and those sentries fell back into and washington's men pressed forward. and at about that same moment, washington could hear off to his right first gunfire and then increase certainly rapid gunfire as men made contact in washington, took great confidence that sullivan's men arrived. would washington know? and maybe it was best that he didn't know. this is, that all the other columns had turned back? no, none of them crossed the river. their commanders made a decision that evening as men were crossing the river was simply to treacherous to make the crossing and not being critical of them. and indeed where they were. it may have been such, but they to turn back. so washington's men were on their own. there was no coming from anywhere else in in trenton.
colonel rall and his men somewhat taken by surprise. and it's not really surprising that they were taken surprise when we know what happened in the days leading up to washington's assault late the previous day at about 5:00 in the afternoon, christmas day, colonel rall had received a warning of a potential attack on trenton. the following day. but he dismissed it. and the reason he dismissed it is in for a number of days leading up to christmas day militia. and i'm stretching to call the militia mostly was farmers who would come out take a pot at the hessians and disappear. and each time that happened the hessian officers would call out their men, they would go on a patrol in some pulling out artillery that chased out chase after these phantoms in fact, one such incident occurred middle of christmas and so night
was falling and the snow was starting to fall on christmas day rolls. men are struggling. back in to their barracks once more. this wild goose chase. and they were exhausted from having done this for a number of days. not surprisingly, that role was not taking this warning very seriously. of course, as the snow was beginning to fall and night was falling, washington's men crossing the river now. they were on the outskirts of trenton attacking his men. so colonel russell gets his up, tries to get them organized. general washington's artillery commander, a man named henry knox, very quickly moved to get his artillery in place there in trenton. and what general knox does get his artillery place right about, we see washington's name pointing down the length of those two long roads, those two long streets in the middle of trenton, kingston and queen street. it was like a bowling alley. and he could fire straight down. and that's the spot the hessians were trying to organize. so not great chaos among.
the hessians trying to get themselves in a force to repel assault by washington. colonel rawl realized this was not going to effective and his men had pretty much made decision on their own and began out the eastern side where we see the red arrow headed. they were looking to escape to trenton, which was i'm sorry, to princeton, which was off to the east where there were reinforcements. washington wisely had a force out to block the road to princeton. so as colonel roll and his evacuate trenton out into the surrounding field wall tries to organize his men out there for a counterattack. he gets them somewhat organized they charge against the americans the americans fire with musket and artillery, inflict casualties, including including colonel who falls mortally wounded. and not surprising, the combination of surprise loss of their leadership. the haitians are done.
eventually, about 600 of them will indeed escape primarily to the south. but 22 are killed, including colonel rall. over 80 are wounded. in washington and his men capture about 900 hessian soldiers. it's an astounding victory. a creditable, creditable primarily to washington. in his determination, press on now washington wasn't content with this. however, he understood that this may not be enough momentum to keep the revolution and the cause alive through this long winter that was coming. so with the men he had he talked with them convinced them to stick around for six more weeks. he was persuasive that in a $10 bonus for staying for four six weeks was enough. and with his men staying, he crossed back over into pennsylvania briefly and then just as the new year was dawning.
cross back over into new jersey and through some really fine of his army went into battle against the british near princeton. and there he defeats the british january the third. now, at that point, he was still thinking maybe we can do more, but prudence and wisdom, i think, stepped in and led his army north to morristown new jersey, where they went into winter encampment encampment. washington was the cause of this victory. i don't think we can attribute to anything but him and his determination to continue on now. washington would face some pretty significant challenges yet to come. the following winter, 1777 to 1788 is that winter? i think we're all familiar at valley forge, pennsylvania, but they survived that less known is the winter. two years later at morris. 1779 to 1780, that was far worse than the winter at valley forge,
but they survived that. i think we can add to washington challenges. his dealings with congress over the course of the entire war that at times wasn't the most supportive washington in the cause. but five years, five long years after washington wins that battle here at trenton this is a painting of washington leading his men he wasn't quite out in front that much at trenton, although he was at princeton washington. of course, will oversee the last major conflict of the war at yorktown, virginia, where he, along the american army and french allies, both army and navy, will force general cornwallis to essentially ending the revolution in 1781. general washington. at that point in, late 1776,
kept the revolution. and that perhaps was darkest moment of the revolution at that point where writer thomas paine referred to as the times, time, men, souls. and while we can only speculate, i think it's plausible. if not indeed likely, that had washington not acted as he had and shown that sole determination that the spring thaw would indeed have revealed the corpse of washington's army and the revolution, just as general howe had predicted. so for reason i, washington was indeed indispensable figure. thank you for coming out and christmas. let's all take a moment and remember the 240th anniversary and what washington did. thank you. here.
i understand that we've got some for questions. the request is that if you do have a question, if you would make your way to one of the two microphones. so can get your question. and i will say this is an early disclaimer. disclaimer, if i don't know the answer, a number of my colleagues are here and so going to start to tag them to help me out this sir, of course, a lot of great stories about battle. you wonder how many are myths of two quick ones. one stories that they were gambling the hessians celebrating christmas and drinking and being hung over and that this would help with the surprise. number two is a great story about how role was playing cards in his one of his spies or a farmer brought him a message washington was on the move and so intent on his and his hand that he the message in his vest pocket and never bother read it. and in the end paid a price for that. and the truth of those stories,
the first question on the hessians sleeping off christmas celebrates celebrates the best evidence is not so much right now. they may well have been celebrating. i think that the circumstances i described that they were just worn out from a lengthy campaign and the hessians were involved. the campaigning from new new york city up through some many of you're familiar the battles of harlem heights and white plains and across new jersey. so i think they were just worn out is more the explanation as to the other message in the pocket. i've heard that as well. again, the evidence is pretty slim that but your point about a spy bringing information that was the source of the warning that colonel rall did receive there. a spy in washington headquarters in the in the preceding days as washington as commanders were discussing this after one of these meetings in which they made a decision that they were going to make an attack against
trenton the spy departed and took off for the british commander. i think he was in brunswick, a little bit past princeton. what the spy didn't know is later that evening, washington in a much group of his commanders, got together to finalize all the details of when and where and how it was going to operate. so the spy had some idea, but none of the specifics before would have probably that anyway. so you spoke about washington and his beginnings in the virginia militia, very young man. did did he have training over next 20 years up to this point? did he have a mentor, someone that guided him in military tactics and military knowledge? what made become what he was he did two mentors the first i can't say necessarily a military mentor which is his older brother lawrence who really set down principles of, character
and integrity that washington really absorbed in internalized and i think much of washington's character we can attribute to his older brother lawrence militarily, washington's mentor, i believe we can say, is general braddock from the british army that washington is with during the french and indian war. washington services as an in essence to general braddock in a braddock's defeat where braddock is is is killed in washington in that battle shows extraordinary courage he was suffering from some pretty severe health health problems. and he essentially gets up out of a sick bed and in the the battle in which bragg is killed, washington is accounts are all over place. a number of bullet holes it through his coat but he was following really braddock and braddock really becomes his mentor. so he was gaining experience, really watching aspiration was to become an officer in the british. he was declined because he was a colonist. oh, i'm not saying that's the
sole. he ends up on the i'm to say our side, but that may well have into it. thank you, sir. this is a bit far afield. you kind of said void into my question. my understanding is that george washington and george the third were cousins. is there any anything to that at all? i've i have not heard that anyone else speak to washington cousins and george the third and fourth. yeah, i don't know. i have not heard that. not saying it's not. he was he was descended from british aristocracy though was he not. i mean is that much which i you know, in all british aristocracy trace their lineage back to charlemagne, whomever it might be. but i don't know for certain i can't say yay or nay on that. okay. thanks, sir. the question that i hadn't a picture in my mind of what happened to trenton and suddenly it got 900 prisoners.
what in the do you do with them? that was well before guantanamo. i mean, so you have to do something with them. and there's only 2000 of you. right. typically, prisoners were exchanged. there was a prisoner exchange process in which you would exchange rank for rank individual for or i believe even during the revolution, there would be an equivalency of an officer of a certain rank for so many enlisted. and so there would be an exchange process. in fact, some of officers that that were recognized. charles lee, i believe it was actually taken for a while and then exchange as a as a senior officer that became did they. i don't know how many they may have had after the war, after the washington side, the new york, new york campaigns. they may well have had near and all. they all exchange. i don't want to make that impression, because some of you are sure are aware of the the horrendous condition on the prison ships the british often used, anchored off the coast. good. thank you.
yes, sir. yes, sir. anything else? anything else you. i've always thought the american excuse me was a continuation of the british civil war and the the professional army was less than a hundred years old and even generals weren't well trained. they had no protection schools. so why were they any better than ours? well, i don't know that i would say that the british wasn't a british were not a professional army. i recall they had been battling for some years with the french and so there there the french and indian. our version of that in as sort of an overflow of that. so the british while they may not have had a professional army for centuries. they certainly had professional experience. i mean, after in this era, britain was the superpower both in naval forces and, in land forces. so there was experience there
and i think a degree of training that the american simply did not have. and part of that was our to any sort of a standing army professional officers. as congress balked at paying officers that they should be serving out of the goodness of their heart commitment to the cause. if they were true patriots, they wouldn't ask us for pay. so is very much a different mentality develops and they have the same thing from the civil war from well in that case for going back what, 100 years or so the new model army that comes out of the civil war, i think serves as the basis for increasing perhaps the profession or wisdom of the british army that i'm talking about the british parliament, the army small because the army cut across all the power. yes. but as the empire, i think that to some degree parliament got past that, recognizing that for maintaining in the colonies that a force was needed and after all, if you're professional, british soldiers are all in the
north american colonies or other colonies around the world, how big of a threat are they to liberties at home? maybe not so much, but but i think so. some of your points are valid. britain was not fully complete professional force without concerns about that. i think we can really sort of philadelphia had a poor outcome. the british didn't go there and stayed in new york city for all. and you know, congress, you know, was there everything? why why not do it the easy way? well the short answer is the british do go there. the british do end up in philadelphia the following year. new york, however and the sea port. new york was the largest city at the time. the seaport there at new york, the best developed at the and so for operations that made sense to be the center place the centerpiece for for british military forces and it will
remain way really for the rest the rest of revolution. well, after when general cornwallis surrenders, there's still a huge army in york city under. i believe general clinton was still there. philadelphia does get into the mix and the british do take philadelphia also. and fortunately, in 1777, they said, sir, just to comment on the prisoner question from earlier, i'm a native virginian and. the issue with the hessian prisoners that were taken as they were, they were and they were marched to the south and they were in turned at a camp in outside of charlottesville, virginia. and a lot them in ended up taking a pledge and joining the continental army and, serving as continental soldiers later on, the british were not real keen on exchanging them because they were mercenaries and hessians, so they were not going to the prisoners that they had, the american prisoners they had hessians, they were saving them
to trade for british prisoners. and as you were talking about the prison ships in the harbor, that's where the enlisted went. so most of these changes that were done were done between officers of like rank and and gentlemen's or gentlemen. so the common prisoner is were basically kept and died in the ships by the thousands or were sent further south away from the army. they're good. and thank you. thank you, sir. we can we got colleagues here, sir. now the prussian army. do we have idea of what kind of nationality mix was involved with them? i assume they were all mercenaries. all mercenaries and from various parts of germany. i was talking with a colleague today about what parts of germany these particular hessians came from. i'm certain i can't as far as the colonists were concerned, they were hessians and mercenaries that that was then even the professionals. so since we're on the hessians one, one particular point about
is there were 13,000 hessian troops in in america. 3000 of them decided to stay and became americans. it looked pretty good. it looked pretty when they got here. yeah. yeah. anything else? one more. one more. i think we have time for just one more. what is it that drew the hessians to come fight? why didn't they stay home? this was not uncommon in the period leading up to the american revolution that. oftentimes heads of state monarchs often hire armies and were armies out there that were quite willing to be hired out. and so these were professional soldiers. pay me enough and i'll come fight for you. and that's exactly what george a third did with with the hessians. right. make frederick wilhelm a substantial offer to go home because i received a lot of money order to. yes. frederick.