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tv   1776 Battle of Trenton Myths  CSPAN  July 5, 2021 9:50am-10:44am EDT

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national park service historian mark malloy talks about several myths surrounding the 1776 battle of trenton including whether the hessians were drunk during the attack. one of the inaugural volumes in the emerging war book series. he holds an understands graduate degree in history from the college of william & mary and a graduate degree in history from
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george mason university. he's worked at numerous sites and archaeological digs for the past 15 years and is an avid revolutionary war reenact tore. i'm certainly looking forward to drunk hessians and other myths of the ten critical days. everyone get close to your computer because this is an interactive session. watch out for fun things to pop onto your screen. with that, i'll pass it off to mark. >> can you hear me, liz? >> yep. we're good. >> excellent. thank you everybody for joining me here today.
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>> -- part of the ten campaign, 1776, 1777. when we originally were talking about highlighting myths of the revolution, and as they started looking through many of the myths and stories of this critical campaign, you know, what i found amazing was looking through them is that many of the things that i considered myths or, you know, fictions that had kind of been brought up over the years were, in fact, facts. they were true. some of these things actually happened. we have, you know, written evidence from people from the time period writing about some of these amazing deeds. so what i'm going to do today is i got 14 of these myths and misconceptions, and what i'm going to do is i'm going to pose them to you all as questions as we get up to them. then you're going to have the opportunity to -- what we'll do,
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what i ask a question, you should be able to see something pop up on your screen saying, with a question and then an either yes or no question, as far as whether it's true or not. and then the great thing about this is it is anonymous, so, you know, you don't have to feel like you don't know the right answer. you can just kind of say whether you think it's a myth or whether you think it's a true event. that actually helps me because i can kind of get a better understanding of, you know, what people think is true and what people think isn't true. i think it'll be a little fun. i'm going to go ahead and let me see if i can share my screen here. so i'm -- hopefully you all can see this. so, yes. we're going to start off by talking about what i consider -- first of all, you know, we're going to be talking about myths
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and legends, really. so you'll see the definitions here. a myth, a widely held but false belief or idea. so these are things that have been kind of manufactured over the years. and then legends, which are traditional stories, sometimes popularly regarded as historical, but they're unauthenticated. and so these are, you know -- some of these things we don't know the answers to. trying to prove a negative can be obviously very difficult. you see the image there. of course, on the blog post specifically about -- talking about misconceptions, you know, the revolutionary war, the founding of america is awash in myths and misconceptions, as we're seeing throughout the day today. the ten crucial days in trenton and princeton is really no different. i'm going to start off by talking about probably the biggest touchstone that anybody has to the campaigns of trenton
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and princeton. that's this image here. washington crossing the delaware by emanuel. you've probably seen it in textbooks. it's on classroom walls. if you go up to the site where washington crossed the delaware river in pennsylvania and new jersey, you'll see actually a sculpture of it. you'll see it on prints, coffee mugs, driving you'll see it on mailboxes. it is one of the most famous and recognizable images not just of the american revolution but really all of american history. it really is an amazing painting. that is going to bring us to our very first myth or misconception. that's the question of, is this a historically accurate representation of the event of crossing the delaware? so you all should see a question just pop up.
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we're going to give you about 10 seconds here. go ahead and answer that question. you can hit submit, and we'll just give it a couple seconds and we'll see what the results pop up here in just a moment, once we get everybody's input. wow, okay. so we just got the results. 94% of you believe this is not an accurate representation. only 6% do. very good. okay. so you guys are already winning at this game. yes, this is not a very historically accurate portrayal. i'll just point out some of the things here. first of all, you'll see this close-up here. you see the sun rising. it's an overcast day. of course, crossing the delaware happened in the middle of the night. it was snowing, sleeting, raining. it was terrible weather. so that is obviously incorrect.
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you'll look at the water here, and you'll see these mini icebergs floating down. this was actually painted by a german painter who painted it over in germany. this actually probably resembles more of what the ice looked like over on the rhein. in fact, the width of the river in this image is more likely that with the rhein. on the delaware, there is flatter ice. there was ice in the river at that time, but it probably didn't look exactly like this. in the boat, you will see these gentlemen here. you'll notice right behind him, an african-american. now, there were actual african-americans that took part in this campaign, but the painter wanted to include an african-american. he was an abolitionist and wanted to show the many different types of people who came together in the american cause. you also see this figure, who is somewhat androgynous. the idea was to also show,
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although we don't know of any women who actually participated in the actual campaign, he wanted to show that women supported the american cause during this time period. in the background, you'll see horses and artillery on other boats. now, this is true. they did cross over 18 pieces of artillery and numerous horses to get over the river. you can imagine what that would have been like on a snowy night. on the right, some men are walking on the ice, as well. that is true, too. at one point, the river does get so frozen over that people would have been able to cross over on foot. here in the center of the painting, you have this american flag flying. now, this version of the american flag wasn't actually adopted until the following summer. the man you see holding the flag there is supposed to represent
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lieutenant james monroe, the future fifth president of the united states. and you have washington there in the center. now, washington, you know, one of the big things, you know, he wouldn't stand up on a boat going, you know, on a little row boat going across the river. that might be true. but, you know, what kind of boats were they actually using? they probably weren't using many of the row boats. they would have had large durham boats. they were used to actually shuttle coal. they would have been using those to transport many of these soldiers across. on those boats, actually, many of the people would be standing up on those boats because they were so large. also to squeeze as many guys in these boats as they could. one of the neat little accurate things, the sword you see there hanging off washington's side, that's an exact replica of the sword that washington carried later in the war. so that's actually on display at the smithsonian. but the sword, he didn't actually get this until 1778. previously, at the actual crossing, he had a different sword he was carrying.
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there's a great book, "the words of george washington," that shows you that sword still exists, which is amazing, although it is in private hands. so, yes, this painting you see is not an accurate, historically accurate representation of the crossing. now, that became, you know -- other people are going to try to do images of washington crossing the delaware after the extreme success that loitz had. the painting was in 1850. you see the men crossing here. washington on horseback in this painting. recently, there's actually -- kuntzler did a version to try to get a more historically accurate version. this is a ferry barge. he placed at a ferry, so he may have crossed over on that. the fact is, we don't have that much information on the actual
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details of washington himself crossing. there's going to be artistic license in all of this. i will say, although this is not historically accurate, i do think what it does sum up is the critical nature of this campaign. loitz was painting this after the revolutions in europe in 1848, and he was trying to garner support and use the american cause to show how these few men, you know, with the wind beating in their faces, pushed up against all odds and were able to pull victory from the jaws of defeat. and that is accurate. this campaign, the battles of trenton and princeton, is going to be a defining moment of the american revolution. and it was against all odds. washington and his up and down -- band of men were successful. this was the lowest ebb of the cause of the revolution, and
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trenton and princeton is going to kind of turn everything around. so i do think it is still a very valuable representation. it's inspiring. it hopefully gets people to want to learn more about this campaign. my biggest complaint is that this has become so famous, that people often think of the crossing and a lot of people don't know what he did once he got to the other side of the river. there were, you know, thee -- three very important battles that had to be won, and washington was successful in doing that. now, about this painting, here's another question for you, okay. does the first version of this painting hang today in the metropolitan museum of art? now, you'll see this question pop up for you here. now, there are many different copies of this painting that have gone around. like i said, you'll see prints of this all over. there's actually -- i think it was mark twain who actually said that, you know, this painting
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became so universal, it was almost in every household across the country in the 19th century. so here we go, all right. so we got our results. 20% of you believe it is. 80% of you believe it is not. all right. so this is kind of a trick question. so if you go to the met today, and i'll see if i can switch it over here, if you do go to the met today, you will see a painting. it is by emmanuel loitz, and it was painted in 1851. it is hanging there today. it's a massive painting. it is just steps away from gatsby's tavern interior that's up there today. so this is an original by loitz. the one he painted right before this actually is hanging -- and we have a photograph of it. it no longer exists. this was the actual original
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one. it was over in germany. it was damaged by a fire, and then it was actually destroyed by allied bombing during world war ii. so the original-original does not exist anymore, but an original loitz does hang in the metropolitan museum of art. there is a copy of it, the same size, that you'll see on site there at washington crossing park in pennsylvania. so here's another question. common misconception. did washington cross the delaware river to attack the hessians on christmas eve 1776? seems like it should be a pretty no-brainer. i don't know. what do you guys think? i'll let you guys go ahead and answer that. we're going to be getting close here to talking about drinking and hessian is in just a second. this is something that i'll often see in many books, you know, all over, that washington
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crossed on christmas eve. almost 30% of you said he did. about 75% of you said he did not. this is a myth. he did not cross on christmas eve. he crossed on christmas day. this is often misattributed, and i think it goes to how we celebrate christmas today. so we often think christmas eve, the night before christmas is when all the merriment and joy happens. but washington actually crosses on the night of december 25th, 1776. so when he attacks the hessians the next day, it is actually december 26th, 1776. so common misconception. now, this is a good question. did the weather happen to align perfectly for the american cause during this campaign? did it support his army almost
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perfectly, you know, in finding a way to defeat the hessians and then, you know, there's going to be a couple more battles against the british just a few days after the battle of trenton. but did the weather somehow magically happen? interesting. we are evenly divided on this. 50/50. well, this is true. the weather almost happens perfectly for the american cause. now, i know what you're saying. they had to cross in a blizzard. it was snowing, sleeting, rainy. how does that help their cause at all? well, what happens is, washington sets the time to attack. now, he was going to cross the delaware, and they had to march 9 miles down to actually attack trenton. he had two other divisions that were going to cross the river and attack the hessians at trenton. well, his other two columns can't even get across the river because down river, the ice builds up so bad, they can't even get across.
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so how does this help the americans? well, if those other divisions got across, they may have alerted the hessians too early and thrown the whole plan off. so the weather actually helps in just keeping washington's division getting across. the weather was so bad, too, that the hessian patrols that usually patrolled the area where washington's men were crossing, they actually came in. they weren't patrolling because of the weather. washington springs this surprise the day after christmas, totally surprises the hessian and captured over 900 of them. the terrible weather helps washington that night. then when the british find out about this, general cornwalace is going to gather men to attack at trenton. guess what? the weather gets so warm, all the frozen roads and everything, they turn to mud. as the guys are trying to get down to trenton, you know, the artillery and the men all sink down in this mud.
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they get bogged down. they come in too late. the second battle of trenton, they run out of daylight. cornwallace says, we'll bag the old fox in the morning. then what happens, the temperature plummets so deep, that all those roads freeze over. washington is able to maneuver all of his troops out of trenton, go around the rear flank, and attack at princeton. it just so happened that the weather is going to actually fall directly in place. it's going to support washington's troops and slow down the british and drive their infantry. one of those, oh, it has to be a myth, but it actually helped the american cause. you know, it's amazing how some of this happens. just pretty interesting. all right.
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let's see. did many of the continental soldiers lack shoes during this campaign? now, this is a story that i see constantly. they talk about, you know, barefoot continentals. you know, not being able to -- you know, lacking proper footwear and all sorts of things. is this a myth? is this something that was made up to make the continentals look more brave than perhaps they weren't were, or do you think this was actually a fact, that they were lacking shoes and an important thing? you can see this image of a monument up there at princeton showing one of the continentals lacking shoes. all right. so we got about 65% of you say they did. 35% of you say they did not. this is a fact. washington's men were terribly under undersupplied. you see it throughout journals, diaries, and all sorts of things, of just how many guys were lacking shoes.
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one of washington's aides writes that he could follow the contin. any time it snows, you can take your shoes off, walk around a little in snow, i mean, it boggles my mind to understand how these guys went through this and, really, also what drove them to do this, you know? it really was a belief in, you know, whatever their motivations were, it had to be pretty substantial in order to go -- undergo these privations. one of my favorite stories is the painter, charles wilson peel, who painted many of the famous portraits of washington. he was actually a pennsylvania soldier. his brother was regimen.
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he's on the delaware river and had seen washington's army come by. this guy breaks out from the ranks, and he looked bedraggled. his beard is overgrown. he has sores all over his face. he had no idea who this man was, and it wasn't until the guy started talking to him that charles realized that this was his actual brother talking to him. he didn't even recognize him just based on how malnourished and underprovisioned he was. so the privation of the common continental soldier is no myth. it is an actual fact. one that is just difficult to comprehend, of how they were able to put up with that. let's talk about hessians. were the hessians blood-thirsty mercenaries? you see the picture, probably one of the most famous hessians.
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christopher walken portraying the headless hessian from "sleepy hallow." teeth are filed down. was this a fact? were these hessians these kind of monsters? 90% of you say no. only 10% say yes. most of you, yes, are correct. these were not blood-thirsty mercenaries. actually, hessians isn't the best description for them. usually, hessians come from a german area. many german troops come to america to fight on the side of the crown forces. hessians become a popular name for them. you'll see the term mercenary used quite a bit, and they were paid professional soldiers. a better description of them would be auxiliaries. so they are fighting for their
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prince, and their prince has been contracted out by the king of england to be sent over to america to fight in this war. this isn't the only war. these were professional soldiers. they fought all over europe, and they were renowned as some of the best disciplined, most professional troops in the world. they come to america, and you can imagine already, i mean, just the cultural difference that these men were german. many didn't speak english. all the troops in trenton in 1776 were actually hessians. many of them were grenadiers, so they had these large caps. if you go to a re-enactment and see a hessian re-enactor, you can see how intimidating they were. they had these large hats. you can imagine with their reputation as fierce fighters. there were cases of them taking
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liberties. at the battle of new york, the hess hessians overrun some of the americans and bayonet many of the wounded men. there are stories that they actually bayonetted some of the rifle men to trees and left their bodies hanging there. some of these things, yes, there were atrocities committed, but then the stories kind of grow and grow and grow to where there are stories throughout newspapers talking about how the hessians, like i said, were blood-thirsty, that they ate babies. that they were just these terrible marauders. the british even, you know, talk about the hessians for looting. they did do a lot of looting throughout new jersey. but they weren't these mercenaries that -- there were many germans on the american side, too. we'll get into what happens to many hessians.
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after the battle of trenton, washington captured over 900 of these men. it's an amaing thing because after what happened to some of the men who were killed after they surrendered in new york, you'd think the americans could take out their vengeance on the men, commit them to death, but washington orders no prepry sal -- reprisals against the men. in philadelphia, he has them march through the streets. people came out to see them because they've heard the stories of how terrible the guys were. they wanted to see for themselves what these hessians looked like. many end up in prisoner of war camps in pennsylvania, maryland, and virginia. where they'll sit out, waiting for exchange. let's go to another one. let's see, oh, here's a more accurate representation of the hessians. not the headless hessian that became so famous after
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washington irving's story. leading up to the battle of trenton, this is a story that's been around for a while, and that's, was there a spy named honeyman who infiltrated the hessians at trenton and reported to washington? just see if you think that's true or not. you may have heard lots about washington and spies. any of you watch "turn," you know, it becomes a narrative that washington used many spies. you can see there's a plaque to him in new york, for his work as a spy. but is this true? did this happen? 70% of you say yes. about 30% say no. so this is a tough one. we don't know for sure, and that's because -- now, proponents of this story, the john honeyman, the story is he
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was a local torre, that he infiltrated but his actual heart was with the patriots. he infiltrated the hessians, then he pretended to be captured by the americans, was brought to washington. washington interviews him at night alone, and thenimprisoned guard, but honeyman was able to escape, make it back to trenton, tell the hessians all about his terrible ordeal, and then say, "don't worry about washington. his guys are dying across the river. they're not going to be able to attack you." spreads all this misinformation. then, of course, the battle of trenton happens, and they're all captured. now, we don't have any evidence from the time period that this actually happened. now, john honeyman was a real person. he was known as a toure. was he a spy or not?
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family traditions and history says he was. that's one of the reasons after the war he's not one that's kicked out of the state or his property is confiscated. he actually does pretty well after. some say it was because he was a spy and helped washington, so he was rewarded for that. there is no documentation to back this up. washington was known as a spy master. he did use many spies to spread misinformation and gather intelligence. this is a tradition. inauthenticated, can't prove whether it is true. it is up to who you believe. whether you think that this was such a secret operation that they were able to keep it secret, even 250 years later. but it makes for a great story for sure.
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the big question, were the hessians drunk on the moring after christmas? this is -- you know, we've all heard the stories. hessians were enjoining probably their rum and having a good time. totally unprepared when the americans hit. they're totally disorganized, hungover and drunk, stumbling around, easy prey for the americans. my favorite meme is washington crossing the delaware and says, "americans, we will cross the delaware and kill you in your sleep while you're drunk. we've done it before." is this true or not? all right. we've got a third of you believe that this is true. two-thirds of you believe it is not true. if you looked at the title of this, it was "drunk hessians and other myths." this is a myth. this was not true. the hessians were quite the opposite. again, they were professional soldiers. they were under constant attacks
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from differentilitia forces and always ready for an attack. the night of the christmas, actually, like i said, the snow forced them into their -- forced them in, but they're going to sleep that night with their uniforms on, muskets ready to go. now, their officer, johan rahl, he was known to be celebrating at the home of loyalist abraham hunt. it is likely he had a few drinks at night. was he drunk or hungover the next day? no. were they taken by surprise? yes. there's actually an american john greenwood who says he swears afterwards that not a single hessian was drunk that morning. where does this story come from? after this embarrassing defeat for the crown forces, many of the british are some of the first to say, well, they were a bunch of drunkards and couldn't
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handle it. the story starts spreading almost immediately after the fact. there were hessians known for looting, and there were some hessians down at mt. holly what were drinking that night. at trenton, they were prepared and ready. rahl, you know, like i said, they were not drunk though. it kind of grows from there, to where it's become a common myth about the battle. the next one, was colonel rall warned the night before an attack was coming? you might have heard this story. there is a story that while washington's men are crossing the delaware, a loyalist from pennsylvania makes it over to trenton, gets a note to rall. rall has a good hand of cards, puts his card in the pocket. next morning he's killed in the battle, and as he's dying, he
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reaches in his pocket, finds the note. if only he read it, he could have prevented this whole disaster. was that true or not? we're evenly divided here. 60% of you say yes. 40% say no. so this is kind of a, you know, was he warned? yes, he was warned. there was -- his superiors were telling him to fortify trenton. they were telling him to get ready for an attack. rall, who, you know, had performed very ably at the battle of new york, actually, doesn't build any fortifications. he is very overconfident and says, "these are a bunch of country clowns. let me come at me. we'll give them the bayonet." but as far as this story from the note, this story actually doesn't appear until almost over 100 after the event. one of the first real, what we'd consider history of this event, was written by william striker
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in the 19th century. he published things, like the fact that they were drunk and other traditions that had been passed down orally, and he includes this story. so maybe it was true. but one of the things is rall didn't speak english. unless this farmer, you know, was dpergerman, able to write i down in german and pass it, that's the only way he'd be able to read it. that's really the first documented time that he had this note. but, you know, again, it's one of those things, do you believe it or not? it's up to who you want to believe from history. did the crown forces outnumber the americans in this campaign? now, this is something, you know, i think vanessa was talking about. the movie "the patriot," we've all seen it. thousands and thousands of red coats and hessians coming at you. did they outnumber the americans
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in this campaign, though? you know, this is something, you know, like i said, that small band of guys going up against -- across the river to attack the larger force. is that, in fact, the case? were they outnumbered? two-thirds think they were outnumbered. a third do not. this is interesting. actually, the americans outnumber the british at almost every engage it during this campaign. now, washington did suffer a massive defeat at the battle of new york just before this campaign. his army in august of 1776 was 23,000, 24,000 men. as he's retreating across new jersey that winter, he says he can only count about 3,000 men left. now, he had about -- by the time he gets across the river and including sick and people who weren't able to fight, he had,
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you know, 6,000 or 7,000 guys on the southern side of the delaware river. now, thebritish outnumbered them in the battle of new york. then what the british do, they leave all these little outposts all across new jersey. he only leaves about 1,500 hessians under rall at trenton. when washington divvies up his forces, the only guys who get across the river and attack trenton is 2,400 men. he's actually going to outnumber the hessians. he has 2,400, and they have 1,500. washington brings 18 pieces of artillery, which massively outnumbers the hessians, as well. in this case, he has more numbers. at the second battle of trenton, he has almost even numbers with the prettyish. they were both about 6,000 or 7,000. at the battle of princeton, he vastly outnumbers the british. he has about 6,000, 7,000, and the british only have about 1,500 men. in each of these events,
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washington was able to basically set it up so that his men are in a numerically superior advantage. now, most of his men don't have as much experience or they're not as good of soldiers often as the well-disciplined, trained hessians or british, so it affects how the battles could have played out. washington is always trying to be at a numerically superior advantage. now, during this first battle, did the continental army suffer zero deaths in the battle of trenton? now, if you watch the movie "the crossing," right, it's a good movie. it's a tv movie. lots of inaccuracies, but still kind of shows the crossing and the battle of trenton. at the end of the movie, he says, did we lose anymore? he says, "no, we didn't lose a single person." i said, is that possible in this battle that took place at
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trenton, that nobody on the continental side died? 70% of you say no. 30% say yes. this is true. nobody on thecontinental army died in the battle of trenton. zero deaths. there were four or five men wounded. one there on the right side, lieutenant james monroe, who was actually wounded in the shoulder, nearly died, until an artery was clamped and he was saved. but nobody was actually killed. two men, we believe, actually froze to death on the march there. if you wanted to count those, you could say a couple guys died in the campaign on the way there. the hessians, about 20 killed outright, 80 wounded, 900 captured. huge victory for the american cause. what happened to the hessians. >> i mentioned they were paraded
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through philadelphia and ended up in war camps. did most go back to europe after the war was over? you know, we think of expeditionary forces, you know, that the united states sends to other places. majority of the men that you're going to send overseas or whatever are going to be coming back, except those who are killed or -- but what about the hessians? were they eager to head back home to germany, or do you think some of them stayed over here? most of you got this right. 90% of you say no. 10% of you say yes. you know, most of them are going to return. about 60% of them go back. a large percentage of them are going to end up staying here in the united states. i mentioned there are germans here in america. many of them actually like it here. they're going to basically meld into the population. a lot of people actually have
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hessian ancestors. there was a tv show about rob lowe. one of his ancestors is one of the hessians at trenton, which is kind of interesting. okay, we're getting close to the end here. did george washington ride up in front of the american troops come within 30 yards of the british soldiers, and survive unscathed? now, this is a story i think i read in a kids book when i was a kid. i thought it was awesome. this statue you see here stands in washington, d.c., at washington circle. supposed to show this moment. was this true? did washington actually ride up that close to british soldiers and survive? i'd be interested to see what you think, if you think this is part of washington lore, a myth, or is this, in fact, truth? did he actually do this?
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about 60% of you say yes. 40% of you say no. this is, in fact, true. washington, who is renowned for his ability to expose himself in danger, at the battle of princeton, on the battlefield there, the americans were being overrun. they're being driven back. a couple of artillery pieces are holding off the 17th regimen afoot. it looks for a moment like this whole campaign is going to break down, when who rides in? washington on his horse. he rides right up into the fleeing men. he says, "parade with us, my brave fellows. there is but a handful of the enemy, and we will have them directly." he rides out and starts leading the men forward, orders a fire, and then rides up in between the british and the american lines. we know this is true. actually, colonel john fitzgerald, who was with
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washington at this time, told this story to washington's adopted grandson. he said, washington rode up in between the lines and gave another order to fire, and at this moment, the british leveled their muskets. washington is between the lines. both sides opened fire. fitzgerald puts a hat over his eyes so he doesn't see washington cut down in front of him. he lifts his hat up, the smoke clears, and there's washington unscathed, riding up and down the lines. this was repeated throughout the army. there's actually a great letter from a pennsylvania soldier who wrote to his wife a few days after and says, "when i saw him brave all the dangers of the field, his important life hanging as it were by a single hair with 1,000 deaths flying around him, believe me, i thought not of myself." the americans are able to level their bayonets, charge forward, and drive the british from the field. this moment was so important in the washington story that, you know, he almost becomes a hero
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overnight. it solidified a bond between washington and his men there at princeton. he was willing to do anything for this cause. they were willing to follow him anywhere. all right. so last question for you. was this the most significant military campaign in the war? now, this is partly a -- this is partly an opinion piece. i would really hope that you all get a chance and get a copy of my book, "victory or death." if you actually go with the -- our publisher, you can get 20% off if you order it for attending this symposium today. but this is ultimately the crux, how important were these battles? did this -- was this the turning point? was this the most significant campaign? all right. most of you are my friends here. 60% of you say yes. 40% of you say no.
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i am, of course, bias. i believe this is the most significant event. like i said, this is the lowest ebb of the american cause. everything looks like it could be over if washington is defeated here. if he loses one of these battles, if his army is crushed, if his men desert, there is no george washington. i am a strong believer there is no united states of america. he is going to prove invaluable in the rest of the war of independence. he is going to prove invaluable in the creation of this nation. this was really a crucial moment for him and a crucial moment for the whole country. of course, you know, we don't know what would have happened if these did not happen, but i can say in my book, you know, you look at historians throughout the 19th, 20th, 21st century. they're constantly talking about how significant this is. james mcpherson, the civil war historian, says this is the most significant campaign in american
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history. that's a civil war historian saying that. i think it's best summed up by a british historian in the 19th century who said, it can be doubted whether so few men in such a short span of time had more lasting or longer effects on the history of the world. i truly believe that. i think that that's why, you know, if you get a chance, one of the things about the book is that it really focuses on the places. you can go see them today, the parks, the battlefields, the city, stand in the footprints of heros. if you've never been up there, you're in luck. we are doing a tour in november of these battlefields. check out emerging revolutionary sign up, buy a ticket for that. you'll be led by yours truly. you can go see some of those events. so just a really great place, and i encourage everybody to look more into this campaign.
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it's fascinating history, to be sure. so at that, i will go ahead and stop sharing my screen. if we have any questions, i want to make sure everybody gets their full lunch break so we have five minutes. i'll turn it over to liz. >> well, thank you so much, mark, for that really great presentation. i really appreciated the polls, and that was super fun to play with on the back end. >> yeah. >> we have some nice comments in the chat about some experiences touring the washington crossing a few years ago. one of our participants said one of the rangers explained while pointing to the bridge that he likes to ask tourists why washington didn't use the bridge. he likes to see the reactions from those folks. and then perhaps this will be a conversation for the panel or next year's symposium, but a presentation about the weather and just the impact of the weather throughout the war.
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>> yeah. you know, that is a -- that's spot on. it's amazing. yeah, just at new york, you know, washington's armies almost crushed there at brooklyn. it just so happens that a fog descends over the east river that hides his men shuttling across the east river. yeah, weather, you know, it's amazing. you really see where many of the men who participated in this, including washington, attribute some of their victories to divine providence. it's hard reading the actual events and seeing that and saying -- and arguing against that. i think it was stonewall jackson who said in a different war, he who does not see the hand of god in this is truly blind. and you see something similar to that with the revolution. because, yeah, how did this happen, that it just so happens and it falls directly in place and helps the american cause along the way? it is hard to argue against divine providence. >> and another note, i believe
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about spy john honeywell, his house is still around in new jersey. i don't know if that's in the book or not. >> it's not in the book. yeah, i'm familiar with that, so that's great. >> cool. so we have a question. feel free, again, to drop questions in the chat. that's also where a link to mark's book is and the code to use if you'd like to purchase it online. it is a signed copy. make sure you buy that online with your 20% off. so our question is, is it true that the american soldiers got into the hessian rum supply and were the ones who may have been drunk? >> that is fantastic. and yes, that is true. so, yeah, the americans, yeah, do break into the rum supply and, yeah, there are recorded events from the time period that, yeah, some of the american soldiers were getting drunk. yeah, you can imagine having not
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slept all night, crossed an ice-choked delaware river, marched 9 miles in a blizzard, fought a battle, that they were. this is also when washington makes the decision to march his army and all the hessians back 9 miles and cross the delaware river later that day and get back. he didn't want his men to -- his entire army to get drunk and basically be sitting ducks for the british and the other hessian soldiers there in the area. yeah, it is kind of interesting that it is almost on top of its head as to who was drinking that christmas of 1776. >> well, i don't see any more questions in the chat. i know somebody raised their hand, but if you type in your question in our chat bar, i will certainly pass that along. oh, a good trivia question. how many times washington crossed the delaware.
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>> yeah. that's something that -- yeah, washington crosses the delaware to attack. he crosses the delaware back. then he spends a few days in pennsylvania. then, yeah, he's going to cross again back over to set-up. of course, he crossed the delaware. yeah, he's going back and forth all the time. you can imagine, yeah, that weather in the middle of december would have been pretty amazing. then, yeah, if you go up to the area today, you'll also see up nearby are other ferries that washington is going to cross in later campaigns when they're going from valley forge to attack the prettyish at the battle of monmouth more than a year ago. yeah, washington crosses many, many rivers, but it's that crossing on christmas day that becomes the most important because of the events that followed in the battle of trenton and princeton. >> i think one of the questions
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for our panel in the afternoon that we'll have to drop for rob and phil would be, you and vanessa can do a fight club over, is the southern campaign or trenton and princeton the most important parts of the revolutionary war? i look forward to seeing that banter back and forth between what potentially the answer to that question would be. >> yeah. and i got a foot in both things. i'm actually working on a book right now about charleston, south carolina, and the revolution. so i do not discount the importance of -- well, we'll wait until the panel. >> for the afternoon fun. so unless there's any other questions from our participants out there on the zoom, then if you can think of one, you can always certainly email me, and then we can pass that along to mark, as well, to get that answer. in the meantime, i think we'll end here. thanks again, mark, for a really
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great presentation. this week, we're looking back to this date in history. >> my fellow americans, i am about to sign into law the civil rights act of 1964. i want to take this occasion to talk to you about what that law means to every american. it was proposed more than one year ago by our late and beloved president, john f. kennedy. it received the bipartisan support of more than two-thirds of the members of both the house and the senate. an overwhelming majority of republicans, as well as democrats, voted for it. it has received do thoughtful support of tens of thousands of
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civic and religious leaders in all parts of this nation. and it is supported by the great majority of the american people. the purpose of this law is simple. it does not restrict the freedom of any american so long as he respects the rights of others. it does not give special treatment to any citizen. it does say the only limit to a man's hope for happiness and for the future of his children shall be his own ability. it does say that there are those who are equal before god shall now also be equal in the polling booths, in the classrooms, in the factories, and in hotels and restaurants and movie theaters, and other places that provide service to the public. i'm taking steps to implement the law under my constitutional
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obligation, to take care that the laws are faithfully executed. >> follow us on social media at c-span history. for more this day in history clips and posts. ♪♪ coming up next, lonnie bunch, secretary of the smithsonian institution and documentary filmmaker ken burns disc


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