tv American Artifacts George Washingtons Crossing Reenactment CSPAN February 17, 2020 7:30pm-8:01pm EST
>> my name is kim mccarthy, i security here at washington historic park and pennsylvania. today is a very special day. we are doing a reenactment of george washington crossing the river in 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 and it's getting of december 1776. they encampments ever locations around this area, including the tops in the only house which is also part of our park and things were pretty desperate at
this point for washington and the patriots cause. the continental army really needed a win. washington was afraid that the british were going to remain in philadelphia and take over the capital and you really knew that what he needed 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 post at trenton. as they began to march from the thompson has down here, a snowstorm it 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 are supposed to cross it to other locations, at the trenton ferry and at the bristol ferry, and they were not able to get across for a variety of reasons in the weather was absolutely --. >> 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 enlistments our expiring, soldiers want to go home, i have ten days, just ten short days in order to make this attack, we feel that what the weather behind us, the element of surprise on our side they will be able to take the city of trying, to raise him around the troops, and prove to congress but we are viable army they should support and hopefully, and hopefully enlistments will arrive. >> have you done an operation like this before? >> we have not. the only operates we've done where the evacuations from new york, which was very well done and my hat is off to them, when massachusetts, whom in the
bodes that remove this from new york and they retreated down from the jerseys to the banks of the delaware. right now they're trying to keep river between us and the passion mercenaries that are now in camp in the town. 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 about 2400 are fit for duty. the remainder have fallen ill from malnutrition and from the weather and we are caring for them further north of the river. we have 2400 troops ready to go. we have three days rations cut, three runs variation each and we expect to get them a good fight. >> my name is frank lyons, from hardly just down the street nine portraying colonel john
whoever from marvel head, massachusetts. colonel glover was the commander of the 14 fundamental regina which was also known as the marble had mariners's. they were -- marble head is a small town about ten 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 that led up to the american revolution, most of the men at marble head were unemployed and
very unhappy and they were happy to join marble head regiment which eventually signed up 550 men. they never expected to find themselves all the way down here in pennsylvania, colonel glover and his marble had 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 9000 men, horses, cannon, baggage across the lower east river from brooklyn into what is modern-day downtown brooklyn into lower manhattan. saved washington's army is from being encircled by the british. and then it tells coin and then he sealed up the east river, and was planning to march across, and trap washington in
manhattan. never once again, with 700, men held off 4000 british and hessian troops. the british took between seven and 800 casualties i saw that he wasn't attacked to escape from manhattan and to fight another day. and then we fast forward to washington -- the section of pennsylvania and around the 22nd of december, glover marches into this area and he camps up the hill near where washington headquarters were, and washington calls him to his headquarters and tells him what he wants to do, cross 800 feet of iraqi i strewn river, or under cover of darkness, and by the, way the barometer is falling and we could be looking at some weather, and lover modest to washington and says, your excellency, it is impossible. washington says to clever, colonel, glover i did not ask you to assess possibilities, i asked you if you could do it, a colonel weber thanks for a
second and says, general washington, we can do it and that is when legend tells us, this legend, it is not written anywhere, but legend tells us that that is when washington made the final decision to go ahead with this bold move which truly did save the american revolution. you can point to maybe a dozen events that truly change the course of world history forever and one of them took place right on this ground where we are standing here. it's not.
>> it is one of the three iconic parts of the--. if you ask, anyone even the smallest part of history, they're going to talk about washington crossing the delaware and a battle of york town. everyone knows the iconic painting which was obviously pointed in the 18 fifties based on the reinke river but everyone knows that painting as washington crossing the delaware, and i will tell, you this river does freeze solid. we certainly do 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.
>> tell us about the votes. >> the votes are one of the types of votes 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 from the door and 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, and this slowing down the crossing that the british my due to invade philadelphia so, the durham both were used and in particular, a ferry was used, it is why they came difficulties ferry, so that you could get artillery across, horses across, because obviously you will not be able to get any of that--.
>> excellent. and remember, its victory or death. we will not bail. please turn your troops and repair them for inspection. thank you. dismissed. >> we need coverage for many things that were short. of food, tents, provisions, blankets. we have had citizens of philadelphia coming up to provide us with at least some blankets to keep them warm. it reminds me of the >> we need
coverage for many things that were short. of food, tents, provisions, blankets. we have had citizens of philadelphia coming up to provide us with at least some blankets to keep them warm. it reminds me of the crisis by thomas payne. your sergeants have read to you. he wrote, these at the times for, the summer soldier in the sunshine patriots will in this
crisis shrink from the service of their country, but heat it stands it now deserves the love and thanks of men and women. and my troops you deserve that leaven thanks for. you are here with me now and continue our fight. i look forward to seeing you and brendan and remember, victory or death for. colonel sergeant? >> yes, your excellency. >> prepare the troops to board. >> that i will. >> washington knew they could be valuable for transporting
troops, basically ferries to people across the river, not the durham votes, so they don't maneuver while going across the river, and it's a real art form. you have to read about the river and take him to the wind in the courage to get them in positions, they were really meant to flip down the river, and to be pulled down the river and steered with this big sweep or that is in the back end of the vote what you will see out here today so, know they are not real manoeuvrable 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 marble headers. 13th regiment out of marble
head, massachusetts, fishermen who help george washington get across water. >> how is the crossing today? >> the crossing today it was very easy. some years it had snowed, some years it is rained, and it has been cold but today perfect weather conditions. >> tell me, why do you do this? >> i do it because it is not in the average american history textbook, about the -- of colonel office unit because
during that time in massachusetts, black men were a large part of the whaling in the fishing industry. it is meant hot caught every day this is a typical dress of a codfish ermine. the trousers, they're open, so just in case you fall 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 hat, you've got to have a pulled down over your ears, not like the try cohen hats, and everything was practical. >> going backwards. >> prepare to cast off. >> but then, here we were here from day one. i had a cousin who did extensive research on my father's mother and he traced her ancestry back to one of the 20 or more africans was on the
boat that landed in hamptons virginia, 60 19, so i can trace my family back in this country for hundred 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 found, in the painting of george washington crossing the river, the man rolling the boat to the right of george washington, is a black guy. his name was prince whipple. he was the servant of one of george washington's aides, and he is a black guy rowing the boat in the painting. i have in history, because it was always teaching me about what somebody else did, now i have to join -- to learn but i
i kind of had offense trading because my father never had a motor. we had our fish, he wrote into the bay, i was ten years old, i started rowing a boat at ten. growing this is just a reflection of my childhood. >> as a reenactor i've been doing george washington, for nine years now, and it's a tremendous opportunity, you look around here you see hundreds of hundreds of visitors who come to the park to see the one event, it's an iconic event, it's something that's not only regionally important but nationally important, because without this victory the army would've collapsed. >> how did you get into doing this type of this and how do you do? it >> as an amateur straw in open do reenacting for 26 years, over the years when you work
your way up from a private to a sergeant, you look at your predecessors and you say, i think i can do a better job, i think i can do something different, i've taken on the role for the last nine years saying, if i may successful crossing, and i actually like the fact that we educate the public in what took place here, and how much it meant for our nation, but the keeps the site viable, 2013 if six inches of snow in four hours, and when i watched my book, across you could see the shoreline on either side, the canceled it just as i went out, they're deemed unsafe, cross anymore boats, it was one of those, started out as a day like today, sunny, a little cool, and by the afternoon, by the time there crossing, six inches of snow on the ground. >> it certainly did feel like the period, i've also been here
when it rained, sleet, it and snowed all the same day, the troops are grumbling, they are complaining, they're standing out and have to say these are the conditions that the troops actually crossed, and i'm sure they were complaining about the same discomforts. >> if i had a general staff, i also have a commander chief court, bill sever standards, the commander-in-chief's position, and that is how you know where the general is in the battlefield, that specific flag which the original is now. >> and people. and people.
the officers were aware, where they were, going where they are marching to than they were attacking, the outpost, the men in the boats, they didn't necessarily know exactly where their destination was, but clearly they were aware that something significant was about to take place. they were cold, many of them were sick, they were hungry, they didn't have the equipment as far as appropriate clothing that they needed to protect from this weather, they did this under great hardship, they're very brave and did accomplish somebody that i don't know, that i certainly couldn't do under those circumstances, they marched for nine miles after this, in the snowstorm, they marched nine
miles south to trenton, and they attacked the hedge and who are not expecting to be attacked, for a number of reasons, first of all, because it was just after a major snowstorm, it was also the time of year, where most armies went into their winter camps, and stopped fighting, and the hessian's had actually been engaged several times by some of the local militias in jersey, and who are really on edge, and this was not the type of fighting they were accustomed to, by the time 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 did not happen they were attacked, was able to defeat them, the army stayed in
trenton for just a short amount of time, and then brought prisoners about 900 or so back and crossed again. at a couple different places, and officers were kept overnight and enlisted and eventually the officers were taken to a town a couple of miles from here. >> it's always good to know your history, 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, because it was always teaching me about what somebody else did, now i have to learn what i didn't learn, in high school or in college, about real american
history. many one time i was given, elect sure many at an office of homeland security, that was 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, wow you are teaching us black history. >> i said sir i'm not teaching a black history, and teaching you american history, it just happens to be a blow black people. many >> most people are probably familiar with -- what
you think of? that >> i think it's a lovely painting, the artist was not trying to provide a snapshot, of the actual historic event, puts a was telling a story. and 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 come, you see james monroe who ends up being a president, you see a flag, we have now the betsy roth slag used in the painting, that flag wasn't used in 1776, but once you know how the story, ends you're seeing two future