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Ned
09-18-2007, 01:15 PM
I love historical non-fiction, especially biographies.

I've just finished David Hackett Fischer's Washington's Crossing.

It's a fabulous account into the background, and everything that went into Washington's historic march from Valley Forge, the crossing of the Delaware River, and the subsequent battles in New Jersey and along the Delaware giving Washington the victory he needed in very desperate times for the American army.

The research that Mr. Fischer put into this book is clearly extensive. I'm a student of early American history, as are many here in Philadelphia, the birthplace of our nation, yet I learned something new almost every time I turned the pages of this book.

If you like nonfiction, historically based books you'll eat this one up. I give it my Five Star recommendation.

deangreenhoe
11-11-2007, 10:27 AM
And after reading Follet's "A Place Called Freedom" where Washington appears briefly in a fictionalized account of those times, I think I'm ready to move this one onto my reading list. Thanks for the tip off, Ned. :)

Ned
11-11-2007, 02:03 PM
Give me your review on what you think of this book when you're done.

Eileen Sellers
11-12-2007, 06:42 PM
Perhaps a year ago, I watched an A/E version of Washington's crossing. It was excellent. So, upon your recommendation, I went to the book store. Gosh, he is an excellent writer with a great gift of story telling.

I didn't get past the Editor's note telling me that Washington met the Hessian's. Well, ok, but until reading this, I thought he met the British Army.

And here is the quote: "Men accustomed to unbounded freedom, and no controul, cannot brook the Restraint which is indispensably necessary to the good Order and Government of an Army".

The Hessian commanders were well disciplined. But did Washington know he was confronting the Hessians or did he think it was the British Army?

Maybe the book explains, I'm only just starting.

But I would like to know the make-up of the army at Trenton,and the make up of the army at Princeton. Were they Hessians or Brits?

Ned
11-12-2007, 06:51 PM
Eileen, I really suggest you just finish the book and then I would be happy to discuss it. Fischer really builds the story well, and very much fills in the details.

I will say this, Washington's version of the CIA was a lot better than Bush's. ;)

Perhaps a year ago, I watched an A/E version of Washington's crossing. It was excellent. So, upon your recommendation, I went to the book store. Gosh, he is an excellent writer with a great gift of story telling.

I didn't get past the Editor's note telling me that Washington met the Hessian's. Well, ok, but until reading this, I thought he met the British Army.

And here is the quote: "Men accustomed to unbounded freedom, and no controul, cannot brook the Restraint which is indispensably necessary to the good Order and Government of an Army".

The Hessian commanders were well disciplined. But did Washington know he was confronting the Hessians or did he think it was the British Army?

Maybe the book explains, I'm only just starting.

But I would like to know the make-up of the army at Trenton,and the make up of the army at Princeton. Were they Hessians or Brits?

Eileen Sellers
11-12-2007, 09:08 PM
Fair enough. In the meantime, do you know if the Hessian soldiers wore the uniform of the Hessian Army or did they dress up in British uniforms?

Ned
11-12-2007, 09:20 PM
The Hessian's "wouldn't have been caught dead" wearing the uniform of another army. While there certainly were spies in those days, these were the days where ground warfare was "civilized." Furthermore, there was no reason to not wear their own uniform. Washington and his officers were well aware of who they were fighting. There were some French officers fighting with Washington. They wore the uniform of the French army.

For example, it was common practice in those days that officers were typically not targeted, as it was thought the battle and men would quickly degrade into chaos if the officers were killed. The British were very angry as American militia regularly targeted British officers to be hit first in quick raids. Even so, things didn't degrade into chaos during those raids as the British non-commissioned officers were up to the task of keeping their men organized. It's often been said that the sergeants run armies, and to a large extent on "Western" armies, to this day, it remains true.

Fair enough. In the meantime, do you know if the Hessian soldiers wore the uniform of the Hessian Army or did they dress up in British uniforms?

Eileen Sellers
11-14-2007, 10:10 AM
I'm half way through- it's a great book!

You are absolutely right, the Hessian's wouldn't be caught dead in a British uniform!

Eileen Sellers
11-17-2007, 05:53 PM
I finished the book today. What a wonderful Thanksgiving treat!

Half way through I had to giggle, because I know you and I will disagree on how it applies to today. Regardless, it will make for good entertainment for the rest of the forum. This is the kind of book that takes time for the information to settle in. I know we will both agree that Washington and his army were born to be, and how lucky we are to be here because of them.

Ned
11-17-2007, 06:21 PM
I'm happy you enjoyed it. The thing is, we can disagree and still walk away smiling. There are other places on the Internet, that doesn't happen. I'm off to an emergency to fix a computer server at the hospital. Have a great evening.

I finished the book today. What a wonderful Thanksgiving treat!

Half way through I had to giggle, because I know you and I will disagree on how it applies to today. Regardless, it will make for good entertainment for the rest of the forum. This is the kind of book that takes time for the information to settle in. I know we will both agree that Washington and his army were born to be, and how lucky we are to be here because of them.

Eileen Sellers
11-18-2007, 06:14 PM
Washington’s Crossing
Cast of Characters




British Side: King Edward II
The Howe Brothers- Admiral Lord Richard Howe- British Navy
General William Howe-British Army
General Henry Clinton-British Army
General (Lord) Charles Cornwallis

German Side: Friedrich Wilhelm II-on the British Side with an army for hire.
Colonel Carl Emilius von Donop-Hessian Army
Colonel Johann Gottlieb Rall-Hessian Army

American Side: Rebels
General George Washington-Continental Army
Charles Lee, Horatio Gates
Philadelphia Associators
Various small groups of militia from time to time loosely organized

Loyalist: British Loyalists and American Loyalists

General public of America and her colonies, considered subjects of the British.
Many of whom, had been in the country for six generations, and liked the idea
of self-governance.

The Issues: Taxes, taxes, taxes.
Taxes, personal liberty and freedom (basically, to hell with the king-we like
doing it our way).

Loyalists confuse me because they generally go with the winning side at the time. This is a good strategy in order of self-preserve, but lacks patriotism. Loyalists really aren’t loyal to anything except themselves.

Ned
11-18-2007, 07:15 PM
When we study the time period leading up to the US Revolutionary War we find three groups of loyalists:
Monarchists: Those who believed in the Monarchy as an idea, and felt we needed to work things out with the King, regardless of the cost
Practical Politicians: Those who knew the British Army and Navy as the most disciplined military in the world at that time with the least corrupt and best trained leadership of the European militaries, and couldn't believe the Colonial military had a prayer of defeating the British.
Commonwealthists: Those who believed that each British colony should have self rule, but be connected to the motherland and the monarchy via a loose knit commonwealth of United Kingdom nations tied together somehow through their fealty or allegiance to the royal family.John Dickinson of Pennsylvania was perhaps the most famous of the Commonwealthists. He was an American lawyer and politician. He was a militia officer during the American Revolution, a Continental Congressman from Pennsylvania and Delaware, a delegate to the U.S. Constitutional Convention of 1787, President of Delaware, and President of Pennsylvania. Among the wealthiest men in the British American colonies, he is known as the Penman of the Revolution, for his Letters from a Farmer in Pennsylvania, where he eloquently argued the cause of American liberty.

Even so, he refused to vote in favor of the Declaration of Independence in 1776, nor be one of its signors. He understood that the Declaration would mean a complete break from the Royal Family, from the King, and he wanted to somehow have self rule, without a complete break from the King.

Once the war was over, and the break was complete, he became an important part of the governance of the new nation.

So I conclude that many of the loyalists, although I believe them to be in the minority of loyalists, were very much loyal to the King. The majority of loyalists, in my opinion, from reading a great deal about this period of our history, and from courses and lectures, belonged to the group of practical politicians. Part of Benjamin Franklin's own family belonged to this group, which to me, is amazing.

Loyalists confuse me because they generally go with the winning side at the time. This is a good strategy in order of self-preserve, but lacks patriotism. Loyalists really aren’t loyal to anything except themselves.

deangreenhoe
11-18-2007, 08:44 PM
Wow, Ned. Now you are talking about my family. I'm in the line of Dickinson descendants. In this branch, they are all still stubborn and conservative when it comes to status quo politics. All the more reason to read the book. ;)

Ned
11-18-2007, 09:05 PM
You have a hell of a quality ancestor. He was a great man.

As far as the book goes, anyone who loves to read about early American history will love this book, and not be able to put it down until completely read.

Wow, Ned. Now you are talking about my family. I'm in the line of Dickinson descendants. In this branch, they are all still stubborn and conservative when it comes to status quo politics. All the more reason to read the book. ;)

Eileen Sellers
11-19-2007, 08:11 PM
I have mixed feeling about this so I'll ask you.

What do you think the outcome would have been if the Howe's had listened to General Clinton's idea to fragment Washington's army and arrest the Continental Congress?

Ned
11-19-2007, 08:43 PM
I think the second part of the question is easier than the first. I think the arrest of the Continental Congress would have hastened Washington's victory, because it would have stopped Congress' incessant visits to the "front" for evaluation purposes, and would have eliminated the financial stumbling block of Congress not being able to decide how, when and if to disperse funds to Washington, which was a constant "killer" to Washington. The financiers, such as Haym Salomon has sought to work directly with Washington, but was stymied by Congress.

It would have halted further stupid political appointments of officers to the Continental army by Congress, and permitted Washington, by the force of his personality and reputation to better, and considerably earlier, unite all the troops, and therefore better coordinate their actions into coherent and powerful attacks.

I think that Clinton's idea to fragment the army by forcing Washington into battle wouldn't have worked, partly for the major reason Howe wouldn't listen to Clinton. Howe was confident in British Sea Power and how it could be used to keep Washington at bay, and used as a second front if Howe could push Washington toward the sea. The thing is Washington was afraid of British sea power enough that he knew first that he had to stay away from the British fleet, and second that he couldn't allow his Virginians who formed the bulk of his regulars, along with the Mass. and PA regulars somewhat later, be split, because then any of the British commands could savage them. I don't think Clinton could have effectively engaged Washington until Washington was ready. If nothing else, the French and Indian War had taught Washington two major things which gave him a distinct advantage than generals of other nations fighting the British. First he learned very high level military strategy from the masters, the British general staff officers, and second he learned British strategy, so he had a good idea of how they thought and fought.

I have mixed feeling about this so I'll ask you.

What do you think the outcome would have been if the Howe's had listened to General Clinton's idea to fragment Washington's army and arrest the Continental Congress?

Eileen Sellers
11-20-2007, 05:21 PM
I don't think Clinton could have effectively engaged Washington until Washington was ready.


I don't think Clinton had any thought of engaging Washington. I think he just wanted to crush him and be done with it. I think his plan would have worked, especially when he proposed it after the battle of Brooklyn Heights and White Plains. Washington was being pushed back and the army was in despair. The Continental Congress fled Phildelphia to Baltimore and the revolution was almost stopped. This is the difference between having a military general ( Clinton) and a political general ( Howe) in command. Howe was basically weak. He thought of the colonists as the Kings pets. And I don't think he as the only one, the King himself thought of the colonies as pets. Pets who owed their master. When Congress sent King Edward a letter explaining the position on taxes, it was the equivalent of a declaration of war. Who would belive it?

If Clinton's plan had been put into action, I don't it would have ultimately defeated the revolutionk, but it certainly would have crushed it for a long, long time.

This would be the first example of the difference between those armies who fight for power over others to subjugate them. Rather than those who fight for freedom and liberty. The power mongers loose their stomach for the fight before long, and the freedom fighters never die, never quit.

Terrorists think America doesn't have the stomach for the fight in Iraq. They are wrong, it is the British that can't hack it. They quit back then and they quit now.

Ned
11-20-2007, 05:43 PM
Eileen, I'll bite, please explain. While you may be right about Clinton (not Bill ;) ) vs. Washington (George), I don't see how you can extrapolate the events and players in the American Revolution to Iraq and Terrorism, the US and the UK.

By the way, I don't think you're giving Washington enough credit. He was a very wilely and astute commander, hardened by years of war. The American Revolution clearly shows he knew when to fight and when to walk away, when to attack, and when to retreat.

Eileen Sellers
11-20-2007, 06:28 PM
Washington was a new commander. America had never been to war before. He was learning on the job. Basically he was beat in NY. But by
the weakness of the Howe and his disdain for Gage, we got a second chance.

The sentiment of the British toward the people is one of Lord and subject.
Today the British people are loyal to the Crown. Not quite subjects in actual terms, but subjects to the history and the pagentry and subject to the history of the Crown. Sentimentality, custom, ritual, and rites of law and order. The British got rid of Tony Blair because of his ties to Bush and the war. America will keep the war and get of the President. The next President will inherit the war and keep it.

Ned
11-20-2007, 07:35 PM
Washington was a new commander. America had never been to war before. He was learning on the job. Basically he was beat in NY. But by
the weakness of the Howe and his disdain for Gage, we got a second chance.

Eileen, I prefer to not get into a long drawn out discussion of the American Revolutionary War, but your premise that George Washington was a new commander, and that the American colonies had never been to war before the revolution is just not true.

In 1753, France began building a series of forts in the Ohio Valley, which was a region also claimed by the British colony of Virginia. Virginia Governor Dinwiddie sent a small force of the Virginia Militia under the command of Major George Washington to the Ohio Country to assess French military strength and intentions. Several skirmishes ensued.

By 1754, Washington had been promoted to Lt. Colonel of the newly formed Virginia Regiment, which was to be essentially the standing army of the Colony of Virginia. Washington and his men went up against the French Canadian force led by Joseph Coulon de Jumonville. Washington defeated de Jumonville, and had him executed. Soon after, Washington's force facing a French force more than 10 times its size was defeated, and Washington surrendered. The execution of de Jumnonville was the major spark which started the French and Indian War, which most historians agree was part of the Seven Years War, fought mostly in Europe. The French considered the execution, murder. Upon returning from Ohio, the Virginia Regiment was disbanded into individual companies, and Washington resigned.

In 1755, British Army Major General Edward Braddock was sent by the King to head a major effort to retake the Ohio Valley. George Washington volunteered to serve as one of Braddock's aides, and was appointed with the temporary rank of Major in the British Army by Braddock. While the expedition ended in disaster at the Battle of the Monongahela, during which Braddock was shot from his horse and killed, Washington distinguished himself in the battle. He had two horses shot out from under him, and four bullets pierced his coat, yet he fortunately sustained no injuries and was lauded by senior British officers for his coolness under fire.

Upon returning from the Ohio Valley, Governor Dinwiddie appointed Washington the Commander of the reformed Virginia Regiment with the rank of full Colonel. Over the next two and one half years, the Virginia Regiment, under Washington's command fought more than 30 battles against the French forces and was victorious in them all. In 1758, Washington led the Virginia Regiment along side British regular units in the famous Forbes Expedition, which successfully defeated the French, and drove them from Fort Duquesne.

When the French and Indian War was over, Washington resigned from the Virginia Regiment, and went back to being a successful planter and politician.

Overall, Washington had fought and led his men into battle more than 40 times over 5 years, and became a battle hardened commander. The Virginia Regiment was not the only ones from the Colonies to fight with the British against the French. Units from most all the colonies from North Carolina, north, fought in these wars as young men, and many heeded the call as older battle hardened veterans when the American Revolution needed army regulars to enlist.

The sentiment of the British toward the people is one of Lord and subject.
Today the British people are loyal to the Crown. Not quite subjects in actual terms, but subjects to the history and the pagentry and subject to the history of the Crown. Sentimentality, custom, ritual, and rites of law and order. The British got rid of Tony Blair because of his ties to Bush and the war. America will keep the war and get of the President. The next President will inherit the war and keep it.

I don't know who the next President of the US will be, so I certainly can't predict what the next President will do about Iraq.

Regardless, you said, "Terrorists think America doesn't have the stomach for the fight in Iraq. They are wrong, it is the British that can't hack it. They quit back then and they quit now."

If your statement above is an explanation of your statement quoted just above this paragraph, I must say that for me it is a complete non-sequitur, as I don't understand how one explains the other.

Eileen Sellers
11-20-2007, 07:47 PM
Overall, Washington had fought and led his men into battle more than 40 times over 5 years, and became a battle hardened commander


A rebel without a cause. He wasn't even close to being a hardened commander.
Especially, since he had no official army to command. He surely was guided by circumstance and divine providence.



Tomorrow I'll address the more contemporary issues.

Regards,

Ned
11-20-2007, 08:09 PM
Oh please, that completely flies in the face of historical reality. Before brushing off Washington's war experiences so cavalierly, you might want to do some reading and research yourself into the French and Indian War. It was one of the fiercest and bloody of western society in the 19th century.

Eileen please remember this is the forum to discuss books, and this thread is about a specific book, Washington's Crossing. If you want to discuss Iraq, terrorism, the British Crown, the British Government, or the US government, please do it in the right forum. This is not the right forum for that discussion. I would suggest starting a new thread in politics, should you decide to discuss contemporary issues.

A rebel without a cause. He wasn't even close to being a hardened commander.
Especially, since he had no official army to command. He surely was guided by circumstance and divine providence.

Tomorrow I'll address the more contemporary issues.

Regards,

Eileen Sellers
11-21-2007, 05:54 PM
Oh please, that completely flies in the face of historical reality. Before brushing off Washington's war experiences so cavalierly, you might want to do some reading and research yourself into the French and Indian War. It was one of the fiercest and bloody of western society in the 19th century.



Washington had fighting experience in the Virginia Militia and because of his wealth became an officer at a young age.His "military" training if you will was from 1753 to 1757, all of about 4 years. And that was it until
1775. During the intervening years he amassed a fortune. According to this book his estate in 1799 included thousands of acres and 331 slaves.

Many fought in the French/Indian Wars, but that doesn't make them military commanders. This in comparison to the training of the British military and German military not only in discipline but in tactics and troop control. Washington had to learn on the job. And he did well, his instincts served him well.