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tv   American Artifacts George Washingtons Crossing Reenactment  CSPAN  June 8, 2020 7:31pm-8:01pm EDT

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but next from american artifact series, living history enthusiastic crossed the delaware river at the spot where general washington and the continental army cross from pennsylvania to new jersey on christmas night in 1776.
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we will see the reenactment and talk with several participants. my name is kim mccarthy. i work here at the washington team. today's very excited they. we are doing a reenactment of george washington's crossing of the delaware river on christmas night, 1776. what happened here is actually one of the most unexpected, daring military maneuvers of the american revolution. the story is, washington and the continental army, after having lost battles in new york and retreating across new jersey, came into bucks county in the beginning of december
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1776. they and camped in several locations around the area, including which is also part of our part. things were desperate at this point for washington. the patriot cause. the continental army really needed a win. washington was afraid that the british were going to invade philadelphia and take over the capital. he knew what he needed was a bold action. after meeting with his war counsel they made the decision that on christmas night, they would cross the delaware and march to trenton to attack the outpost. as they began to march down here to the macaque ease, a snowstorm started. it was terrible. there was snow and hail.
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it was basically a pretty bad -- all of these men, 2400 and all had to cross the delaware and begin their march. there were other regiments who were supposed to cross at two other locations at the trenton ferry and that he shuns, they were not able to get across. the bristol ferry. weather was a major part of that. >> general washington -- i know it is a secret mission but can you tell us about this operation. >> this is our final chance. this is our chance to make an impact in this war. the problems we have is -- soldiers want to go home. i have ten days. just ten short days in order to
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make this attack. we feel that with the weather behind us, the elemental surprise on our side, we will be able to take the city of trenton, raise the morale of the troops, prove to congress that we are a viable army. they should support us. hopefully, listens will rise. >> have you done any operations like this before? >> we have not. the only operations we have done were there were evacuations from new york which was very well done. my hats off to the marbleheaders. from massachusetts who manned the boats that removed us from new york, and then we retreat it down from the jerseys to the banks of the delaware. right now, we are trying to keep a river between us and the hessian mercenaries who are right now in camps. we are trying to at least stay between them and the city of
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philadelphia. >> tell us about your forces. what type of men are there? >> hopefully we keep this among ourselves, but we do have 3000 troops of which 2400 are fit for duty. the remainder have fallen ill from mount nutrition, the weather says and we are caring for them further north of the river. but we have 2400 tubes ready to go. they have three days rations cooked. 60 rounds of ammunition each. we expect to give them a good fight. >> my name is frank. i am portraying colonel john glover for marble head massachusetts. colonel glover was the commander of the 14th continental regiment which is also known as marble head mariners. it was the glover's marble head regiment. marble head is a small town about ten miles north of boston,
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where the american revolution started. it was the tenth largest port in the united states on the east coast. because of the intolerable acts, the british enactments that led up to the american revolution, most of the men at marbelhead were unemployed and unhappy. they were happy to join the regiment and 550 men signed up. they never expected to find themselves all the way down here in pennsylvania. colonel glover and his marble head regiment saved washington and his army three times. the first time after the disasters of the battle -- glover and his men wrote 9000 men, courses, cannon baggage across the lower east river from brooklyn into what is modern-day into lower manhattan and saved washington's army
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from being encircled by the british. again, when wallace was planning to -- he sailed up the east river out to the long island, he was planning to march -- they trapped washington in manhattan. glover once again with 700 men, held up 4000 british troops. he took about 22,000 -- the british took about between 700 and -- that gave washington time to escape for manhattan and to fight another day. we fast forward to the section of pennsylvania and around the 22nd of december. glover marches into this area and he camps up the hill near where washington's headquarters were. washington calls him to his headquarters and he tells him what he wants to do. cross 800 feet of iraqi i strewn river under the cover of
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darkness. and by the way, the barometer is falling. we could be looking at some weather, and glover says to washington, your excellency, it is impossible. washington says to clever, colonel glover, i did not ask you to assess possibilities, i asked you if you could do it. colonel glover things for a second and he says, general washington, we can do it and that is when legend tells us, this is legend, it is not written anywhere, but legend tells us that that is when washington made the final decision to go ahead with this bold move which truly did say the american revolution. you can point to maybe a dozen events that truly changed the course of world history forever, and one of them took place right on this ground where we are standing here. >> -- it is one of the three iconic
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parts of the river. the smallest amount of history, they will talk about the valley forge, washington crossing the delaware, and the battle of york town. everyone knows the iconic says painting which was painted in the 18 fifties based on the ryan river, but everyone knows that painting as washington crossing the delaware, and i will tell you, this river does freeze solid. we certainly do not get icebergs. it is thick sheets of ice that goes straight across. >> the reenactment part of this. what will take place? >> we will start by seeing washington and his officers reviewed his troops. we will hear washington give a speech to the troops, and then everyone will board the boats, torn votes that we have here and across the delaware. >> tell us about the boats. >> the durham boats are the types of boats that were used
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during the crossing to get men from pennsylvania to new jersey. what is special about the durham boats is that they are large and they were originally made to haul pick iron from the door and iron works up and down the delaware, so they were ideal for putting a lot of guys in and getting them from point a to point b. but they were not the only boats that were used during the crossing. they are the only type of boats you will see used during the reenactment. washington, when he came to pennsylvania, ordered all of the boats that were on the new jersey side of the delaware, brought over to pennsylvania in hopes of slowing down the crossing that the british might do to invade philadelphia. so, the durham votes were used and in particular, a ferry was used, this is why they came to the ferry, to get artillery across, horses across, because obviously you cannot get that with a different vote.
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♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ >> lover, how do the
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conditions look? >> my marbleheaders have just returned. a report to me that the river is swift, streamed with ice. but they have confidence and are determined to convey our army across the delaware tonight. >> excellent. remember, it is victory or death. returned to your troops and prepare. think you. >> yes sir. >> dismissed.
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♪ ♪ we asked congress for
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many things we were short of. food, tense, provisions, blankets. we've had citizens of philadelphia coming up to provide us with at least some blankets to keep you warm. it reminds me of the crisis by thomas payne. your sergeants have read to you. he wrote, these are the times, the summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis sharing from the service of their country. that he that stands at now deserves the love and thanks of men and women. and my troops, you deserve that love and thanks. you are here with me now, and
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to continue our fight. i look forward to seeing you in trenton, and remember, victory or death. colonel sergeant? >> yes, your excellency. >> prepare the troops to board. >> that i will. >> the durham votes, they were afloat they were meant to flow down the river, not meant to go across the river. washington they knew they could be valuable -- so they do not maneuver well going across the river. it is a real art form that they rode them up the river and tackled the wind and current to get them in position. they were really meant to flow down the river and to be cold
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down the river and steer. they are not real maneuver manoeuvrable when you go across the river. it takes skill to be able to do it. >> my name is leon vaughan. i'm portraying a member of colonel glover's marbleheaders. the 14th regimen out of marbleheader massachusetts. fishermen who help george washington get across the water. >> how is the crossing today? >> the crossing today was very easy. some years it has snowed, some years it has rained. it has been cold, but today, perfect weather conditions. >> tell me about your
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portrayal. why do you do? this >> i do this because it is not in the average american history textbook. about the 40% of colonel glover's unit, because during that time, in massachusetts, black men were a large part of the whaling and the fishing industry. john glover's men, they caught cod every day. this is a typical of a cod fishermen. the trousers, they are open. so just in case you fell in the water, you would not have any water in your pants. they could drain and you could come up and you would not drown that easy. and the hat, if you got cold, you could pull it down over your ears, not like the try core hats and everything, what you wore was practical.
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>> going backwards. >> prepared to cast off! >> we were here from day one. i have a cousin who did extensive research on my father's mother, and he traced her ancestry back to one of the 20 and odd africans that or on the boats that landed in hampton virginia, in 16 19. i can trace my family back in this country 400 years. you have to go deep into libraries, you have to go to used bookstores, and the internet has helped also. i picked up a book out of a library and in this book, i found in the painting of george
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washington crossing the river, the man rowing the boat to the right of george washington is a black guy. his name was prince quibble. he was the servant of one of george washington's aides. and he is a black guy rowing the boat in the painting yuck. . >>. . ,. ,. . ,.
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. . . ,. >>,. , -- . . ,. . >> as a reenactor have been doing george washington for nine years. now and it is a tremendous
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opportunity as you look around here you see hundreds and hundreds of visitors that come to this part just to see this one event. it is something that not only is important but nationally important because without this victory, we would've collapsed. >> how did you come to do this and why do you do it? >> as an amateur historian, i've been rest doing revenue revolutionary worry not run for 20 years. over the years when you work your way up from a private to a sergeant to an officer, you look at your predecessors and you say, i think i can do a better job. i think i can do something different and i've taken on this role for the last nine years and had many successful crossings. i actually like the fact that we not only educate the public in what took place here and how much it has been to our nation, but it keeps the site viable. 2013, we had six inches of snow
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in four hours. when i watched my boat to go across, you cannot see the shoreline on either side. they canceled it right after i went out there. we could not safely cross anymore boats. it started out as a day like today. it was sunny, a little cool. by the afternoon, the time of the crossing, we had six inches of snow on the ground. >> it certainly did feel like the period. i was also here when it rained, sleet and snow at all on the same day. the troops are grumbling, complaining, waiting across, and i have to look at them and say these are the conditions that the troops actually crossed under. i am sure they were complaining about the same discomforts. if i have a general staff. i have a commander chief guard. we have our standard bearer. he powers the commander-in-chief's position flak. that is how you know where the general is on the battle field
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in the camp. that specific flag, where the original is now in the american museum a philadelphia. >> and poll! and pull! and pull! i and pull! >> the officers -- where they were going and where they were marching to and that they were attacking the head mission -- the men and the boats did not know where their destination was, but clearly, they were aware that something significant was about to take place. they were cold.
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many of them were sick, they were hungry. they did not have the equipment as far as appropriate clothing that they needed to protect them from this weather. they had great hardship. they were very brave. they accomplished something that i certainly could not do. under the circumstances. they marched nine miles after the crossing in the snowstorm. they marched nine miles south to trenton and attacked the haitians who were not expecting to be attacked for a number of reasons. first of all, because it was just after a major snowstorm. it was also a time of year, wintertime, where most armies were into their winter camps. stopped fighting. the haitians had actually been engaged several times by some of the local militias of new
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jersey. they were really on edge. this was not a type of fighting that they were accustomed to. by the time -- it was christmas and there had been a major snowstorm. they were hoping to have the opportunity to rest a little bit. of course, that did not happen. they were attacked by the continental army who was able to defeat them. the army would have state and trenton a short amount of time and then brought prisoners, about 900 or so prisoners back, and crossed again. a couple of different ferries. and officers were kept overnight at macaque he's ferry. enlisted -- eventually the officers were taken to pennsylvania, which is just a couple of miles from there. >> it is always good to know
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your history. knowing from where you have come. that way, you know where you are going and you try not to repeat some of the same mistakes. when i was in school, i hated history. they were always teaching me about with someone else did. not what my people did. now i've joined this to learn what i did not learn in high school. nor in college, about real, american history. all inclusive american history. one time, i was given a lecture at an office of homeland security. it was black history month program. after i gave a short speech on the black involvement in the civil war, one of the women in
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the audience stood up and said, why are you here teaching us black history? i said sir, i'm not touching you black history. i am teaching american history that just happens to be about black people. >> most people are probably familiar with the emmanuel lens painting? >> i think it is a lovely painting. he was not trying to provide a snapshot of the actual historic event. he was telling a story and in that painting, you see the story of the american revolution that he was trying to inspire people in germany, at the time, and their quest
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for revolution. you see washington crossing. you see james monroe. you see a flag, which we now call the betsy ross flag. that flag was not being used in 1776, but that's how we know how the story ends. he includes that. you are seeing two future presidents. you are seeing this flag and a variety of different types of people in that boat, which is just like the makeup of a variety of different types of people. ♪ ♪ ♪
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coming up on american history tv, we learn about mobile alabama in visit africa town, a historic neighborhood former. then we take you to a reunion festival and africatown, it brings together descendants of,


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