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tv   George Washingtons Military Career  CSPAN  May 3, 2020 1:19pm-2:35pm EDT

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part of the 18th century world. he himself had survived smallpox, which gave him lifetime immunity, but he also practiced inoculation with the troops in the army as well is his own family. because smallpox, when it hit you, with devastating. over 30% of the people who got smallpox would die. that is tremendous. inoculation brought that way down. that is await washington was practicing the best practices possible to ensure the survival of the american cause. it gives us a great lesson to draw from that you deal with adversity with clear eyes using science, using the best techniques available, to make sure you can innovate and survive. americans have always done that well and i think we are going to see it again now. i very much look forward when we forward to the moment when we can welcome back the public. we can have an incredible party
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to celebrate our independence and our freedom from anxiety at this moment. tv,ext, an american history douglas bradford -- bradburn appears in the education center with a life-size replica of washington. he traces the president's military career while also taking questions from viewers. originallym livestreamed on facebook and youtube and is part of a series toonline events intended keep visitors connected with mount vernon during its closure to the public because of the coronavirus pandemic. here we are again. welcome back. my name is doug bradburn. has my delight -- my delight to have these
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opportunities to talk about george washington. last wednesday, we were in our museum. --s is our education here education center here at mount vernon. it focuses on the life of george washington. it gives a grand sense and -- sense of why he matters. last time, we were looking at his youth, a youth that is often times and wrapped in romance -- apped ined -- enwr romance and the myth. tocourse, he is most known americans and perhaps the folks around the world as the great military commander, the general who led the americans through the american war for independence, through eight long years of war. his identity as a warrior is a crucial one.
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we think about who was george washington, how did he think of himself and his time, and why does it matter today. george washington as a military commander is still studied regularly in the great military disciplines in this country at west point, the naval academy, as well as the were college because -- as well as the war college because washington was a fundamental figure in the establishment of american leadership in arms. the united states army dates its own birth to his service. congress'sntal appointment of him taking over the army. that is important to start thinking about the cultures and traditions that are part of american military power and leadership today. george washington also was a man of the 18th century.
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he lived in a very different world with different assumptions about how warfare should be conducted. some of that, i hope, will come out as well. what was different about the way an 18th-century officer might organize troops versus today. let's get into it. i want to start where i left off last week, which is the french and indian war. george washington's military education was through the process of fighting in the french and indian war. he had no experience when he was leading men into battle. he had no experience organizing men or creating a camp or building a supply train or any of that. he learned a lot of the basics in the field through service in the french and indian war and also by many mistakes. he had a skirmish that turned assassination, as the french consider it.
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he lost one of his early commands at the battle of fort necessity, where in the french and indian war he had the virginia resident -- regiment surrounded by british with no native american allies, and ultimately had to surrender his post. yet he survived to go on to great things in the french and indian war. he would go on to become known as a very respected officer, and a respected colonial officer, particularly by virginians, but also by colonials throughout north america. general edward braddock, the great -- he was not great. in fact, he was an inexperienced but long serving british commander who was set -- sent to attack fort duquesne in 1755.
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george washington served as a volunteer on his staff. around fornd asking -- braddocklocal had his great meeting with a number of governors in alexandria. john carlisle was related to george washington through marriage, so washington's brother, you'll remember, married into the fair fox family. to acarlisle was married daughter of william fairfax, so washington was very much on the radar of people in alexandria when braddock was looking for some expertise. and he agreed to volunteer. braddock agreed to staff him. army, ultimately because washington was able to lead the retreat after braddock's army was caught by an ambush of well-prepared native
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americans, some of their french -- mostly a native american victory, and one of the worst defeats in british history. braddock's army was decimated and washington was able to guide this retreat through chaos only a few miles away from the course of the require -- course of the ohio river. washington comes back and finds virginia in a position where it is completely undefended. when they marched out west, they built a big road to make it easier for braddock to bring his army out there. but once they were defeated, that roe became a highway for native americans to come rushing back into the virginia frontier and spread out and assault the virginia settlers in the shenandoah valley. without any protection, the colony of virginia begged george washington to come back into service to become the head of the virginia regiment again, and he ultimately, reluctantly, did
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come back and to be a colonel of the virginia regiment with a new plan, a strategic plan intended to defend the frontier. virginia set a series of forts. washington found himself in an incredibly challenging position for next few years, which was a defensive one where he had only about 1000 men. he was supposed to have about 2000, but it never was that many, across multiple forts in the shenandoah valley intended to cover 400 miles of frontier. native americans are not stupid. they are not just going to attack the forts. they go around those in detective settlements. they would carry away captives, steel goods, and basically make civilian life dangerous on that frontier and keep the whole colony on edge. and washington was a difficult position -- was in a difficult
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position of having to defend this frontier. he learned how to command men, trainmen, fight in the indian style in the woods, using light infantry tactics, learning how to track native american groups, and obviously learning a lot about supply and morale and motivation. in fact, some of the early instances of george washington the leader we see developing in this period. there is an episode at one of the forts that washington is in charge of where he had been away for a while and comes back. there have been drunken carousing by some of the officers at this for. washington has to go through the process of court-martial, where the officers convene and try other officers for misbehavior, and he has to exercise punishment. after that he writes an address to the officers of the virginia regiment which basically says that it takes more than the
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title to make the officer. and that he will make it his duty to serve with the utmost respect to the rules of comportment and training, but will also expect that of the others as well. he also says he will punish with severity, but, at the same time, he looks forward to rewarding the merit of the best, the brave and most meritorious. that notion of it takes more than the title to make an officer, and that he was going to award merit, but punish poor toavior, was a key understanding washington's sense of what leadership means in that environment. he puts an emphasis on training and on reading. in fact, he lists a number of books officers should read. you will see this throughout his own experience as a military leader -- the importance of training, of reading. the other thing about the french and indian war i want to bring
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up before we get into the american revolutionary war more generally is that george washington really becomes alienated from the british world for the first time during his experience of the french and indian war. he trained the virginia regiment over these three long years of bloody campaigns, as he called them. and it made them into a very highly regarded, professional regiment. they are not a militia unit. they are an established military unit at a provincewide level, but they are not what is called the regular british establishment. they are not part of the british army per se. they are a provincial regiment. what that means is george washington's commission as a colonel is not effective when he is around an officer who has a king's commission. a king's commission at the level of captain is supposed to be
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able to have authority over provincial kernels, which george washington saw as a huge insult, an insult to his honor. so there is a constant concern that these provincials are going to end up serving alongside regular troops and the officers would be raided. washington is trying to get his whole regiment put on a british establishment recognition, which would equalize his own status within the british army more generally, the british imperial forces collectively, but would also do the same for his fellow officers. he had about 60 to 70 fellow officers in the virginia regiment. this comes to ahead a couple of times throughout the course of the french indian war. he fails to get this recognition. he gets quite close. he thinks the great opportunity has emerged with the appointment of a new british commander in sevenin about 1756 were
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-- 7056 or seven, which is john campbell, the new commander-in-chief of all the british forces in north america. john campbell is a scotsman. e is also a nobleman, the earl of loudoun. he is also the royal governor of virginia, which is important because it represents the throne in the virginia colony. virginia is mostly run by water called lieutenant governors. we have a royal governor in virginia, he appoints a lieutenant governor, and a lieutenant governor goes and lives in williamsburg and runs the colony on behalf of the actual governor. he stays in scotland or england collecting his salary for being the royal governor but not actually doing anything. governorse, the royal
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of virginia, the real royal governor, is coming to the colonies. he is also the commander-in-chief of all the forces. here is george washington thinking, this is perfect for me because i am the colonel of the virginia regiment. i have that connection to this governor. plus i have been serving in this war, so had that connection to the commander-in-chief. plus i have got all this experience in fighting in this war. and he has this strategic idea he wants to bring to his superiors. he wants to go on the offensive. he cannot defend the frontier of virginia over 400 miles. knows if knows -- he he can take the forks of the ohio. duquesne is the launching point of native american grades -- raids. this is where native americans are coming from canada and
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further west, getting supplies, and being able to then launch raids into the frontier of pennsylvania, virginia, north carolina, and further south. if you can take a fort duquesne, you can cut off the whole region's ability to sustain warfare on the frontier. washington knows this. fort duquesne is the hive they have to destroy. the only way to stop the rating is to take over that fort -- raiding is to take over the fort. so he wants to convince fort -- colonel loudoun -- lord loudoun. lettites a flattering er to fort loudoun -- to colonel loudoun about how the greatest generals and greatest men are delighted that you are now in
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charge. he goes to philadelphia, where lord loudoun is, and tries to set up a meeting. and loudoun is the commander-in-chief of the british army. this is like some random colonel trying to talk to the joint chiefs of staff about what they should be doing. that typically is not the way that these decisions are made. so washington is put on ice. here he is cooling his jets for two weeks in philadelphia trying to get the attention of lord loudoun. he is finally allowed into see him and what does loudoun do. loudoun says i have no interest in hearing your ideas, young man. washington is only 24 at the time. from loudoun's point of view, he has very little experience in arms, and as a provincial to begin with. washington's,
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virginia blues, this regiment he has trained over these years that he is so proud of, he is going to have to lose some of his men. washington emerges from this meeting completely humiliated and angry, and it writes what i call the smoking gun -- and writes what he calls -- what i call the smoking gun letter complaining. he says i cannot concede that americans, only because they are not british, will be denied the rights of british subjects. saying, how come we are not treated equally? that idea that americans are not lesser than the british come through very powerfully.
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i think this is the crucial moment, if anyone was to ask why does george washington become a rebel against the king who he had served, this experience with lord loudoun is one of those moments you can point to and say, there is george washington being treated like a dog and he will never forget it. ultimately, of course, the french and indian war, washington does participate. one other thing about loudoun. to give you a sense of the character of john campbell, earl of loudoun. -- benjamin franklin said of lord loudoun that he is like st. george on the tavern sign, always on horseback, but never going anywhere. you get the sense that this man who played it being a great soldier never really did much, and in fact he did not. ultimately washington does get to participate in a successful march on fort duquesne.
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he goes with the forbes campaign in 1758. in that campaign, he believes he has a major impact on helping to lay out the line of march. he has experience with this sort of wood fighting. he does not get what he wanted from forbes. he wanted forbes to take the same route that braddock did, the virginia route. forbes took a longer, but flatter route through pennsylvania, and ultimately has the same success. the french left the fort before the british arrived, so they were able to secure it. that success basically ended the french and indian war in the south. it was correct. once you took duquesne, the french had no way to project power south of the great lakes. when that was over, george washington resigned his commission.
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it was clear that his ambition in military was not going to be in the british army. he married marshall -- martha washington and embarks on his next career as a virginia planter. it is really interesting to see that is connected. he is turning his back on a military career that has been denied him, essentially, through the idiocy of the british in his interpretation. now he is going to become that virginia planter that he never had been. to do that, he brings martha washington to mount vernon and the next phase of his life begins. let's go to the american revolutionary war. why don't i take a question as a way to get into it, as a way to think about george washington as a soldier in the american revolution. washington was one of history's greatest generals.
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who were his mentors and how did he learn strategy? mr. bradburn: the question is about washington. considering the fact that he is one of the greatest generals in american history -- i would submit that he is -- but who were his mentors and arms, how did he learn? george washington obviously learned by doing. one of the incredible things you see about him is that he will fail. he will blunder and make mistakes, but he clearly learns from his experiences in the french engineer more and -- in the french and indian war and also in the revolution. he was also a great leader -- reader of all the military books of the age. he learned a lot from braddock and the officers that surrounded braddock, including people like -- whogauge, who we will
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he will later face off against in the boston theater. he read all the latest treatises. he started focusing on the sort of petite war tracks, light infantry, guerrilla warfare we might call it today, that was emerging in the 18th century. century, the european mind of warfare was a tendency that had basically existed for almost 100 years. the technology had not really changed much. the british were using the musket that was basically like the musket they were using in 1705, that marlborough was using 1710s, wars around the the brownback mastic -- musket. in would mass firepower groups of ranks of infantry. the goal was to outnumber the
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other side's infantry. it was very static in the way they were thinking about tactics at the time. washington is learning from this european tradition through their manuals, which emphasized girl -- drill, lines of men with muskets who would march close together and shoot close together at point-blank range, and then charge. european battles have been fought for almost 100 years from the evolution of the band that -- of the bayonet. well.y was used as washington can learn about that tendency of warfare. he also learned from the ancients as well.
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he read julius caesar during the french and indian war. cesar, the commentaries on gau l, which washington was reading. caesar was defending the roman frontier. he was talking about the challenges of defeating an enemy, in this case the german tribes, that fought in a different way than the romans have been fighting. in a sense, washington is learning from these treatises and tracks. -- tracts. the great military figures in the 18th century. you had the ancients like moderns,aesar, the just off his adolphus -- gus tavus adolphus, william of
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nassau, prince eugene, frederick the great. in washington's time, frederick the great is the greatest general of the age. he is the a pity me of the highest level of what tactics have approached by the middle of the 18th century. the prussian army that frederick --trolled, heavy entry infantry that were very well trained, emphasis on highly trained, expensive, permanent harmonies -- harmonies -- permanent armies that you would not use very often. 18th century warfare tends to be focused on siege craft. europe was dotted with fortresses and castles that controlled the rivers. when you think about strategic battles and fighting in europe, you are thinking about seizing rivers and fortresses.
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these armies move slowly. their supply lines can only be a couple of days away at most. they require a tremendous amount of powder and food and horses. one historian described 18th-century armies as shackled by their supply lines. imagine a giant man walking was shackles on. these armies move very slowly. most battles that we think about in the 18th century are great sieges rather than set pieces. you will see a major change in the 19th century with napoleon . the american revolution is fought in a time of these older aboutilities at what -- what were looked like in the 18th century. washington is schooled in that tradition through reading these generals he served in the french and indian war, but also,
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through the american revolution, he evolves in his own thinking and understands how to command at a high level. the real challenge he will face in the american revolution is he never commanded anything more than 2000 men. that is tiny compared to being the commander in chief of an army. even though he often does not that -- does not have that many men directly under him, we will see, like in the new york washingtonen commanded about 25,000 men spread across different areas, he makes some fundamental areas about -- fundamental mistakes about how to arrange that army. how about another question? kind of reputation did washington have among his soldiers versus at home? mr. bradburn: there question is the reputation of washington
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amongst the soldiers versus beyond the soldiery. questionan implicit about what was his reputation to the enemy. he was ultimately beloved by the soldiers. a lot of his political power within the army, the fact that he never lost his command, never -- had to do with the fact that there was this huge core that loved washington and believed he could do no wrong. this came through experience of working with him. listener,reat welcoming of other points of view, promoting men of great talents. he had a great eye for talents. when it came toward the regular soldiers, he was there. he stayed with the army in a way that generals in the 18th century did not do.
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so he is at valley forge, at morristown through tube brutal winters -- through tube brutal winters. day.ver -- every he is not going on a vacation. they say that 90% of doing a job is showing up. washington showed up and that has an impact. the other thing he did when he was there, and he was not the kind of general, not an omar bradley, he is not going around shaking hand trying to be one of the guys. but he is doing what is expected of him. he is not trying to go into people's tents and be one of the guys in the middle of their adversity. he is trying to find them food. he is trying to find them clothing. he is writing letters. -- he ising to get
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trying to support the forging of this army. he is actively trying to make life better for the army. and he is not the one they blame when they do not have shoes or clothes or gunpowder guns. blame the congress, the states, the politicians, who are either corrupt or incompetent, but here is washington doing his much of that spreads into the american people as well. there is a reason he is the most trusted american -- trusted man in america by the end of the war. these soldiers do not serve for most of the war. they serve for short periods and then they go back to being a farmer. stories of washington are spread by word-of-mouth. it is likely that everybody knew somebody who could claim to have served with george washington, or whose father or brother or uncle or cousin had served were seen him or talked about seeing him.
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it is remarkable. i do want to mention his reputation amongst his opponents. british made some critical mistakes at the very beginning of the american revolutionary war by underestimating the americans. i mean all the patriarch me. the idea that colonials could ever fight. was --m escaped, who gauge would basically save new englanders, they will not show any stomach and battle. -- in battle. they really do not know how to fight and they are not going to be able to stick this out. long,xtend that for too thinking about the americans in that way. they had no respect at all for their ability as soldiers. there is good reason for that because the european army has to
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be trained for two to five years before they can be expected to fire anda line taking winning a set piece battle. colonials have never done that. they don't have bayonets, rifles. they might snipe it officers from trees, but that is no way to win a battle. what they did not bargain for was the fact that the americans had tremendous leadership in george washington that was flexible, able to train up troops, that had other resources they could draw on. ultimately, george washington -- was seen as one of the greatest captains of the age. one of the great generals. particularly after he turns the tide of battle in 1776 by crossing the delaware and those 10 days in which he not only
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crosses the delaware and defeats the hessians, but maneuvers around a larger army and wins the battle of princeton. he forces the british to lose all of new jersey. it is considered by frederick the great is the greatest military figure in europe and some of the finest 10 days of generalship seen in history. in the courts of europe, has this reputation of great generalship to be studied and admired in fairly romantic terms. that attitude spreads amongst the british generalship over time, that washington is not some bungler, but actually a challenging photo to fight and defeat -- challenging foe to fight and defeat.
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often did washington get home to his wife during the war years? mr. bradburn: not really at all during the war years. george washington had a very man, william lee, a valet, who served with him throughout the war. he had been his personal manservant. they have been in the hunt together in virginia and our together in war. that familiarity was part of washington's day-to-day life in the camp. but also martha washington came to him every year. great hardshiph across terrible roads, through danger, put herself in danger, to come to the winter camps. she bring supplies, mobilized
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war,'s support for the making cartridges, and was a crucial part of washington's experience of the war during the wintertime, when all he had was cares and distress. could he make his army survive another winter? could they be alert and active? martha was there to calm his mood and make him into a better man and a better leader. officers, and washington's experience, would often celebrate when martha arrived in camp because it would make them easier to deal with. a little less angry. a little less wound up. he tended to be a control freak, try to have his hand in everything, and i think martha leavened his personality.
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>> i heard that it was hugh mercer's idea to cross the delaware to suppress the hessians. any idea? -- any truth to that?? mr. bradburn: a lot of people claim it to be there idea, including washington himself. , and probablyton his only major strategic blunder of the war, is in the new york theater. the british are sending an expeditionary force to destroy the rebellion. is set uphington under the guidance of charles lee the defense of new york. washington is in command of about 25,000 troops in manhattan and long island. it ise does -- and strategically important for a lot of reasons -- the hudson river is crucial.
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new york is important. sois dominated by loyalists, it is important to keep control of the area. the con dental congress once washington to defend new york -- nts washington to defend new york. new york is an island and is defendable by navigable waterways. -- surrounded by navigable waterways. so george washington stations all of his troops on either manhattan and long island. it is a huge strategic blunder because general howe could simply have landed on manhattan island and outflanked george washington and destroy the whole army. it is hard to see how washington
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could have escaped, if at all. howe was not the enterprising of a commander, so he fought in long island and on manhattan island and allow washington to escape destruction. it is a series of losses. washington loses. but he does have a successful retreat. they do not ultimately lose the core of their army. he loses a series of battles and skirmishes in manhattan, although they do hold grounded crucial moments. washington is going to learn a lot. he is going to learn the value of maneuver. he set up strong positions and howe just outflanked him. his troops cannot move effectively on the battlefield. he needs to train them to thation as a proper unit can move without becoming chaotic, they can fight, that
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butnot only hold ground, fight effectively on a battlefield without losing since order and panicking -- losing sense of order and panicking. he also learns the value of naval power. these are three crucial things he will need to triumph in the revolutionary war that he is allowed to learn in these losses, this blunder. let's get to the point. his army ultimately does escaped from manhattan, although he loses 3000 men at four washington. -- fort washington. that loss is the big loss. now howe has something to claim victory about, because seizing new york, a town of 20,000 people -- we think of new york city as this metropolis. new york city is the sport. valuable,rtant and
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but in european eyes, for how to say i won this port is not a great victory without capturing a big chunk of washington's army, which he was able to do it for washington. it is a huge blow to morale, to the cause, and a great celebration for british arms in that campaign. washington is escaping from h owe through new jersey, retreating towards philadelphia, and being chased by the british. his army is disappearing. men are leaving. and les mentz are coming up at the end of the year anyway -- enlistments are coming up at the end of the year anyway. the old meat -- the army ultimately dwindles to 3000 from 20,000. the army sort of melt away like the snow. as washington, as early
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trying --f 1775, is -- is thinkingin 1776 he startg about the need to counteract the news of the loss of fort washington. that fell at the end of november. with that loss, washington knew he needed something to change the narrative. a counterattack of some kind. he starts looking for opportunities. that is ultimately what is presented to him with trenton. the british are essentially chasing colonials across the delaware river. all of new jersey almost. they are going into winter quarters. their behavior was terrible in new jersey. isre is plunder, there destruction of property.
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you have one of the signers of the declaration of independence declaredature and loyalty. it is a huge propaganda challenge, but the militia starts rising. washington is being fed intelligence about the possibility of an attack. that leads to the incredible decision to cross the delaware and turn the tide of the war, which washington did. in 10 days he turns the tide of the war and transforms the narrative. of course, general mercer died at the battle of princeton. bycer is united to death d to death.ayonete mercer is well dressed in colonial uniform, he refuses to --render, and he is a net bayoneted.
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mercer would have stood out in a really grand way. that made people think that this was possibly washington. that's a good question about whether mercer could get credit. i don't think you can say it was mercer's idea alone. there were others. washington himself, his staff. there was a lot of people looking for an opportunity. quote sticking with the crossing, if you would like to know, what type of watercraft did the army used across the delaware? mr. bradburn: the crossing of the delaware, we think of it this beautiful painting from the 1850's. it was a german immigrant who painted this extraordinary painting. you can see it online on our webpage. you rememberne, if it, it is washington crossing the delaware he is standing -- i
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don't remember how he is standing exactly. but he is standing, looking forward behind the vista of this massive river clogged with ice, which is much larger than the actual delaware. and he is in this boat which is being rode by all of these other people. some of whom represent real people like james monroe, who was in the crossing and got wounded. but also others who are meant to be indicative of the diversity of america. there is a woman in there. there is an african-american number. -- member. there is a scotsman. he is painting an interesting story about america's greatest in the 1850's, emphasizing immigrants and diversity and washington's leadership, and really creating a great
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historical memory and interpretation, it is not really what happened. the question is about, how did washington actually crossed the delaware? it would have been very different style boats. like boats and what are called durham boats, they are shallow boats that are used for carting things across the river. it was actually a mishmash of different craft. the americans had collected all of the craft they could, making sure the british could not get them. bringing them together. it is ever kind of craft you can imagine. flat cargo boats. washington likely would have been seated in a different fashion. aere is a good painting by ?ussler -- is it cussler which shows what it might have looked like. again, we have that in our
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winter patriots movie. you can see a representation of that. it was a remarkable crossing, nonetheless. it took many hours longer than washington hoped. it almost led to disaster. question? time during ever a the war that washington's life was in grave danger war that he faced being captured? mr. bradburn: was there ever a time during the war were washington's life was in grave danger? the answer is, yes. there are at least three documented moments in which people were afraid that washington was taking risks with his body in the face of enemy gunfire that was not considered to be smart, given that he was the indispensable man. one was in the battles in manhattan, where he was so upset at the retreat of the americans that he started wanting to
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assault the lights himself. just throw himself into danger there. -- the lines himself. just to throw himself into danger there. is quoted in the hamilton musical. the greatt is one of artistic renderings of the intensity of those series of losses. they are moving rapidly and they are fighting and they are dying and they are actively engaged. the other one is at the battle of princeton. famously, where washington gets within 30 yards of the british ane, where colonel mahood, very experienced british officer .ho goes into atul on horseback -- into battle on horseback. model.the british
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disciplinedh more and they are defeating this pennsylvania militia, and washington comes himself on horseback and rallies the troops. them,are just a few of and we will have them presently. howe's a story told about one officer closes his eyes and can't bear to see washington being shot dead, which he assumes has to happen. washington is out there right between the lines who are firing back and forth. but ultimately it carries the day. the other time in the revolutionary war that i think about -- perhaps one is monmouth, but on -- but i don't think he was in danger of close arms. at yorktown he is also known for getting up on top of the trenches that are surrounding yorktown with his spyglass, observing the battle.
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while there are shells landing around him, bullets whipping through the air. officers are asking him to come away, general come away. he will say something like, "you can retire to the back if you like, i feel perfectly fine washington led from the front .hen it was necessary defeat at braddock he had holes through his hat, a number of horses shot from under him, but yet wasn't scratched. george washington was never wounded throughout his many years of war. question from william. he would like to know what happened to generally. was he captured or did he resort --
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why was the general allowed to command? mr. bradburn: let's start with the first one, which is the question about charles lee, was he captured or did he desert to the british. charles lee is an interesting figure and not well-known today. he was british, but he was also an adopted virginian. he was not related to the virginia lee family that we think of. he was an english born man. he served in the french and indian war. he also serves in europe at the court of european princes as a military expert. he has a lot more military experience than george washington and he has a huge grudge toward the british. he thought he was treated poorly by them. eccentric guy.ry known to also have no
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friends, but his dog. he's got about 20 dogs. he is a bachelor, although he has a native american wife and he has a native american name, called boiling water. also probably but quite a genius when it came to military affairs. washington depends on him and the congress love him. john adams thinks that he is very important to the americans and they really wanted him to help washington, because he knows a lot about siege warfare, he knows the european style of fighting. he is given high command early on. he is essential in the defense of charleston in the early phase of the war when it successfully defeats a british invasion, although they will later be conquered. he was also put in charge of the defense of new york and does whatever but he considers to be a capable job with very little resource.
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charles lee also has a very different, and i would say revolutionary, notion of what the american strategy should be. he thinks it is a waste of time to try to fight the british in a traditional, european manner. george washington argues that the americans need to have a proper army that is able to fight in the european way. the clearsees it as way to contain the british and the fight the british properly, but also it is political. if they have a real army, they can be considered a real country. like, the europeans will give them respect. charles lee early on is emphasizing the importance of what we would call guerrilla warfare or, bringing the war into the countryside, of the army melting away into the mountains and letting the british alone and the americans fighting it out in this way. also, kind of a revolutionary
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idea of how they should be the republican way of fighting. charles lee is interesting. .here's a great essay which contrasts washington and charles lee and their visions. anyway, charles lee in the flight across new jersey does a couple of things which are questionable. it is clear that washington is not capable of managing this war. washington has lost new york, lee is not responding to george washington's and queries aggressively. ultimately, what lee finally does start to bring his troops and try to meet up with washington's troops in new jersey, is careless. he ends up getting himself captured at a crossroads by the british. trying to sneak out of the house , inns up as ay prisoner of war.
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now, there is some -- there are many historians, there is much confusion about this. like, participates with the british in helping them while he is captured, think about the weaknesses of the american army. we might consider to be traitorous behavior. this is something that comes to light much later. that lee, ultimately, is exchanged. he comes back into the american officer corps in an important 17 78, when george washington is trying to figure out a way to take advantage of the british abandonment of philadelphia. they tookh, remember, philadelphia in 1777, they abandoned it after the french come in on the side of the americans. now the theater of war has changed. this is in just these 13
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colonies. the british have to think about their west indian colonies, their african posts, they have to think about the world. the french and them are going to fight on a much bigger scale. hold seen as foolish to onto the town of philadelphia. so that army is going to march inm philadelphia to new york 1778. george washington wants to take advantage by harassing that army , at best finding a location to attack with this better trained army. now he has an army that has been training at valley forge, etc. the british are marching back to new york. charles lee is put in charge of a big section of the army. washington wanted to put off in charge of that wing, but he had pressure to quickly and that the in thatto put position.
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after he had opposed the idea of attacking the british the whole time. lee never agreed with that, but then he begs to be in charge of the army. of course, lee bungle set. -- bungle's it. washington interprets lee's behavior as being, shall we say, timid and not aggressive enough. that lee is not pressing an advantage and is retiring in the face of enemies when washington believes he should be assaulting. so, washington dismisses him on the battlefield and there is later a court-martial. lee'st court-martial, reputation is destroyed. that is the end of charles lee ina significant -- figure the american revolutionary story. i don't think there is evidence that he goes over to the british. while he is in pretty chance, it
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is highly questionable what his behavior is. i think he thinks at that moment, which most people did, that the american cause was lost. it is the same moment washington's army is losing another three thousand people. it is right before the crossing of the delaware. lee is likely looking for an escape hatch at that point. and probably later granted. good question. oh, this is a three-part. the second one was about, who was it about? why does washington allow arnold to live? mr. bradburn: why did washington allow bid and it arnold to live? -- an addict arnold to live? he would have executed benedict arnold if he could have gotten his hands on him. that is probably a thing that kept him up at night. arnold had not only been a trusted commander, and one of the great battlefield generals
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in the revolution and a hero to boot. in canada and the canada campaign, the law set of core island.- bell core and trusted by george washington. george washington wrote to him one of his favorite quotes from said, you've he done better, you deserve it. he loved arnold. he knew arnold was one of the great generals. impatient and really disliked the french. anold ultimately betrays, in hideous way, the american cause. it's one thing to go over to the british, but he did it in such a way as to get washington captured. try to get west point captured. go overt only does he to the british, but he becomes a
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british general and attacks virginia. attacks in a devastating manner. notorious and washington would have liked nothing better than to string him up by the neck as a traitor to america if he could have gotten his hands on him. that's why he left arnold -- let arnold live, because he never got him. arnold ultimately goes on to live a despite life in britain as well. >> the last question is, why was general gates allowed a command? grainydburn: well, gates, as he was known, had his supporters. he was an imminent figure and had the support of many in congress. ultimately has great success at the battle of saratoga. there are many who thought gaetz would be a better commander-in-chief.
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people were upset that washington couldn't win the battle of germantown, although troops considered it a great success. --y had actually supplies surprised the british. great victory the of saratoga, so washington's achievements by the untrained eye looked diminished in the face of gaetz. washington is pressured to put gaetz in command, and he ultimately puts him in charge of the southern army, and gaetz makes a complete ass of it. i think there is some statement of gaetz after the loss at calpins -- a battle in the south that gaetz loses. he basically doesn't stop in his retreat. as someone mentioned, the only thing gaetz one in the south was
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a horror -- a horse race. green famously would lose all , wetime, but we lost regroup, and we fight again. he understood that the british army couldn't replace their army. any costly victory was as good as a defeat to cornwallis in that campaign. chargeut gaetz in because there was political pressure. once gaetz show he was incompetent, never again. those are three very good questions. let's get another. hamiltonashington and as close as they were in the musical? mr. bradburn: joy asks a question about how close were washington and hamilton? the musical is wonderful. it's a beautiful piece of art, but it is shakespeare history. right? it's like shakespeare's great
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history place. henry the fifth, the battle of agincourt. it captures the spirit of the story, but it does it in a way has to take all kinds of liberties with the actual troops -- truth. george washington's relationship with alexander hamilton in the american revolutionary war has been the subject of great biographies. biography,onald which i think is as good on the financial work of hamilton as anything written about hamilton. romancere's a lot of placed upon hamilton italy the revolutionary war. he was made to george washington. george washington had 20 58 through the war. he was an important aid and washington recognized his genius. hamilton had his close group of friends.
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but he wasn't indispensable to george washington by any stretch of the imagination. he is responsible for winning the american revolution, which is what you might think watching the play. george washington's relationship with hamilton was interesting, and it was testy. washington lost his temper with hamilton and hamilton, being a prideful man, basically resigns. washington tried to apologize. hamilton refused and left the army. hamilton had to beg washington to let him back to be a part of the yorktown campaign. there was no sense of like, i've got to have my right hand man. that's ridiculous. george washington was going to win yorktown whether hamilton was on the dark side of the moon. that said, hamilton clearly has ofbe recognized as a man great valor and as a hero of the war. fact that he did leave that
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assault in the yorktown campaign, he was given that command by lafayette. lafayette commanded the american army of that wing. the thing to remember about lafayette -- sometimes people forget -- lafayette was an american officer who happened to be french. he was not a french officer in the employ of king louis. the french army was led by rochambeau. lafayette was an american officer. that is what makes me unique in the story. , soe's the french army lafayette in charge of the american wing at the battle of yorktown. then there is a whole french wing at the battle of yorktown as well. it is lafayette that gives hamilton command to attack the readout. the redoubt.
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clearly washington's relationship with hamilton's close. his first he becomes secretary of the treasury. in that period where you would say hamilton and washington become crucially inseparable in the way that they are working together to assure the success of the american experiment, it is through that cabinet period, i think, and the story tends to project that back on the american revolutionary war, in which hamilton is not in that position of leadership, but is a trusted aide. >> we have time for one more question. mr. bradburn: this hour has flown by. how old was general washington and he resigned his position? mr. bradburn: howell -- how old was george washington when he resigned his commission? this is one of the important
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things to know about george washington, the soldier. at the end ofton, the american revolutionary war, resigned his commission and went back into civilian life. throughout the war he had deferred to civilian authority, although he was given more power by the continental congress, almost unlimited dictatorial power in where the armor was, ultimately, through the war. there were some that wanted him to become a king, or imagined a possibility he might become the lord protector of the united states, like oliver cromwell did at the end of the english civil war. george washington promised to give back his commission, and he followed through. the british, after the treaty in 1783, finally leave new york in november 1783. by december 22, george
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washington has resigned his commission into the hands of the continental congress. completing this incredible act, to assure that america would be a government of laws, and not a government of men. republic, not a monarchy. a place that believes in liberty, not a place that would be dictated by a benevolent dictator. washington is crucial, and this made his worldwide reputation. in 1732.he was born who can do the math? he is 51 years old when he does that. he became the commander-in-chief of the continental army when he is 42 years old. he is a 42-year-old man, he ends up resigning when he is 51. there is a lot to know about george washington the military leader. it is a crucial part of the
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story of his evolution as a great leader. it is a crucial part of the story of our american military history as well. and washington is not infallible. what he has a tremendous political general. he is a great strategic general. as bad argue, he is not a tactician as many historians like to say. they say, he was not a good tactician and they will point to some wonders at long island and germantown. some issues that can be certainly identified, but in the context of the 18th century and the options he had, he is as good as any out there in that mode of fighting. and he beat everyone the british sent at hand. he ultimately wins the war, which is how you measure great generalship. who wins the last battle, not who wins the first battle. luck, and aot of
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lot of things people can't control once people start -- pulling guns on the strategic level george washington understood the different phases of that war. there's different things that the americans were striving to do before they declared independence. there's different things they were doing in between declaring independence and when the french came in. once the french came in he had a different way to think about what is going to happen. after yorktown, he has a whole different way of thinking about what is his important role. washington showed tremendous flexibility in strategic thinking and the way it was executed. that needs to be emphasized. flexibility is as important as any other quality, and washington had in spades. there's probably no other american general debits -- that was as good a political general. eisenhower is probably his closest match, given his
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theater. different nations and alliances, different levels of government from the local to the state, to the national, to the international. george washington and eisenhower share that grand strategy challenge that george washington would master, and will use that to become the first president of the united states. certainly the model for presidents for years to come. thank you so much for the time we have spent together today. i look forward to answering more of your questions off-line. remember, there is lots of resources on if you are interested in this, you can really go into the rabbit hole. movies, the actual primary documents, and also interviews with some of the great historians. much better than i am and who
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have written in depth about it. i think of the great general palmer, who a lot of you can find his i would also recommend -- if you like these videos, subscribe to our newsfeed and let everyone know. together we can be inspired by our past and think about the country we want to be. we do great things when we work together as americans. i think this is a crisis which we will ultimately tell great stories about. the way americans came together, valued heroes fought the disease on the front line, our incredible doctors and nurses and medical people, and the folks in the grocery stores who are out there working. thank you so much for your work. i welcome you back to mount vernon on the better side of this. bye-bye.
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you are watching american history tv. 48 hours of programming on american history every weekend on c-span3. follow us on twitter at c-span totory for information and keep up with the latest history news. announcer: american history tv is on c-span3 every weekend featuring you tours, archive films, and films of the presidency, civil war and more. here's a clip from a recent program. ♪ >> >> i deal with the diseases of man as early as 1886. the studies have gradually expanded until today, the public health service on the cause, that if spread, and means of
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prevention is among the most important work that is performed. a research laboratory for the public health service calls this laboratory that was established in 1901. congress changed its name to the national institute of health. institute ins washington, d.c. most of the investigative work of the public health services conducted. the diseases and conditions studied include a long list. enemyisease public number one. more than 300,000 persons die each year in the united states from this cause. the cardio graph has aided greatly. next, the importance of cause of death is cancer. ofs results in the death 135,000 americans annually. malaria is an important problem
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in at least 16 states of the union. this mosquito borne disease affects within 2 million annually. this patient is having malaria chills. the fight against malaria is that against the mosquito. we prevent mosquito breeding by seeing no containers are left lying around and providing breeding places. all standingnating water as much as possible. regions, effective mosquito control has been done by a poisonous mixture. this is done from trucks. machines and also by airplane according to the conditions met. another effective method is the killing of larva by the oiling of stagnant water.
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other preventative measures are draining and keeping mosquitoes out of the home by screening. announcer: you can watch this and other programs on our website were all videos are archived. that is announcer: next, historians compare founding era politics to today. they stress that while government size and voting demographics have changed, many issues that concern americans today -- partisanship, foreign influence, and influence of the media -- were concerns in the early era. the kennedy institute hosted the event. >> good evening, everyone. behalf of gina and on the edward m kennedy institute for the nigh


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