1776

Thursday, April 19, 2007
I am reading David McCullough's 1776. It is late December. By now several of Washington's most valued and trusted aides have expressed their failing faith in his abilities. He is aware of this - he has seen the evidence with his own eyes. He himself doubts that he has the skills to achieve success in The Glorious Cause. General Charles Lee, widely considered the most capable American officer and yet another who has lost faith in Washington's ability to command the army, has been captured and is now advising the British about how best to bring the rebellion to the quickest possible end.

Washington has the tattered remnants of his "army" on the western bank of the Delaware River opposite Trenton. Philadelphia, the capitol, has been evacuated.

...Washington now had an army of about 7,500, but that was a paper figure only. Possibly 6,000 were fit for duty. Hundreds were sick and suffering from the cold... more and more of the local citizenry were signing the British Proclamation [a pardon in exchange for an oath of loyalty to the crown]. Congress had fled. Two former members of Congress, Joseph Galloway and Andrew Allen, had gone over to the enemy.


The Continental Army has been humiliated in New York and suffered defeat after defeat. Ft. Washington and Fort Lee, prepared with such daunting effort, are lost. They have fled, ill clothed and fed, across New Jersey with Lord General Howe baying at their heels. It is during this retreat that Thomas Paine writes The Crisis.

THESE are the times that try men's souls. The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of their country... What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly: it is dearness only that gives every thing its value.

I have read a fair bit about Washington and The Revolution but I was unaware of, or had long forgotten, William Tudor.

On December 24, the day before Christmas, Washington's judge advocate, Colonel William Tudor, who had been with him from the beginning, wrote again, as he often had during the campaign, to tell his fiancée in Boston of his continuing love for her, and to explain why his hopes of returning soon to Boston had vanished. "I cannot desert a man (and it would certainly be desertion in a court of honor) who has deserted everything to defend his country, and whose chief misfortune, among ten thousand others, is that large part of it wants spirit to defend itself."


A man, of whom I had taken no lasting notice, has reached across 230 years to cuff me upside the head. I am grateful to him.

13 comments:

terrye said...

From His Excellency George Washington by Joseph Ellis:

Sighting January 3, 1777.

The Pennsylvannia Militia have just broken in the face of heavy musket fire and grape shot. Suddenly, Washington appears among them, urging them to rally and from a line behind him. A detachment of New England Continentals joins the line, which first holds and then begins to move forward with Washinton front-and-center astride his white English charger. The British troops are placed behind a fence at the crest of a hill. Within fifty yards bullets begin to whistle and men in the front of the American line begin to drop. At thirty yards Washington orders a halt and both sides exchange volleys simultaneously. An aide, Colonel Edward Fitzgerald, covers his face with his hat, certain that his commander, so conspicuous a target, was cut down. But while men both sides of him have fallen, Washngton remains atop his horse, untouched. He turns toward Fitzgerald, takes his hand, and says"Away my dear Colonel, and bring up the troops,. the day is ours". And it was.


There is a reason we call this man the father of our country.

Knucklehead said...

My gratefulness to Colonel Tudor, Terrye, is not that he restored any flagging dedication to General Washington. My admiration for the man is beyond any possibility of failing. What Colonel Tudor has done for me is, rather, stiffening my sagging spine when it comes to my faith in the Glorious Cause. My faith in My Fellow Citizens is somewhere near an all time low. My thoughts of recent weeks have been along the lines of simply walking away - voting with my feet. I will not do so. Despite fatigue of all sorts I will renew my dedication to the fight. It will take time and be, as always, imperfect, but so be it.

Buddy Larsen said...

Well said, knuck. So it is, difficult to not get discouraged about the whole country. Harry Reid, again today. He is trying to get a message to the troops, to hunker down, take no initiative, please, please, do not win this war and mess up my plans.

He knows or cares nothing about the institution of the US military--else he would understand the profound malice of what he is doing.

A sort of malice that severely hurt the institution for years and years following Vietnam.

And damage-wise, that's just for starters.

vnjagvet said...

It is sad, Knuck, but these lessons must be learned again and again, even after all this nation has gone through.

Washington, Lincoln, Roosevelt, Truman -- and LBJ all suffered crises of confidence. All but Johnson survived.

terrye said...

Yes, I know. One would hope that Reid and Pelosi would at least try not to sound ike the enemy. Reid sounds like AlQaida and Pelosi sounds like Sadr. You would think they would notice.

Habu said...

I listened to 1776 on tape since I enjoy David McCoullough's voice.

It is astonishing what those troops went through nad overcame.
God bless each of them.

Outside of 1776 I have followed up with Adams and Jefferson and the election of 1800..and we think the dirty stuff is new...whew .

I can also recomment james madison and His Struggle for the Bill of Rights.

I can't remember which source this came from but it impressed me.

The average British Admiral/General sent to the colonies was 48 years old with 30 years of military experience.

The average Revolutionary General was 42 years old with 2 years of military experience..

and we licked'em hooray!!!

Buddy Larsen said...

we licked 'em because they saw that after seven years those inexperienced continentals still hadn't learned they were licked, so they probably never would. Once you know the other guy won't quit, you might as well spool it up and go to the house.

Knucklehead said...

Habu,

Good recommendation. I've been munching on James Madison and the Struggle for the Bill of Rights, by Richard Labunski for a while now. It is very thought provoking to see how so many opposed the constitution and the Bill or Rights.

Terrye mentioned His Excellency: George Washingto which I also enjoyed a great deal. Good insights into the man.

Habu said...

Knuck,
Geo.Washington, His Excellency is also tops. Once again I listened to it but don't feel with my other readings on Washington I missed anything.
He was an extraordinary man, leader, and we were so lucky to have had a man like that when we did.
After reading of the pettiness of many of the Founding Fathers and how even handed and above it all Washington stayed it becomes a study in true character and courage.

Rick Ballard said...

"Once you know the other guy won't quit, you might as well spool it up and go to the house."

Are you sure that's an argument that holds up, Buddy? The Commons was controlled by mercantilists who knew how to count pennies - the Brits were just starting to receive cash inflows from India that dwarfed receipts from the American colonies. They figured out how to keep India for another 160 years or so.

The war in America was a game that really wasn't worth the candle for the Brits.

If what you wrote was always true then all the insurgents in Iraq need to do is hang on. The percentages of pro, contra and 'leave me out of it' aren't really that dissimiliar to the situation in the Colonies in 1776.

Reliapundit said...

DON'T FORGET PROVIDENCE.

WE ARE ALL TESTED.

KEEP THE FAITH, BABY.

Aquarium said...

Rick,
In the last fifty years all anyone has had to do to defeat the USA is hang on.
We are loathe to use the full extent of our might and our public has no guts for a protracted engagement.
This time , against Islam, they will learn we can't get away for they are intent on establishing Islam worldwide.
So the fight will be here, in our streets and cities with a growing population of immigrants who have no allegiance to the US. Should be a real bloodbath.

Rick Ballard said...

Aquarium,

'Hanging on' didn't work for the USSR and it needn't work for the death and slavery cult.

The problem is that islam is based upon a better understanding of actual depraved side of human nature than the Hegelian historicism that underpinned communism and socialism. Unfortunately, islam reflects that depraved aspect better (IMO) than the aspirational utilitarianism of democracy and capitalism reflects the best aspects of human potential.

Communism could not prevail because of its distance from reality, the death/slavery cult could prevail because of its proximity to the very worst in human nature.

There is a brighter side to this conflict - as time passes, more and more people are coming to an understanding of the true nature of the death/slavery cult. The current alliance between the rotting corpse of historicism and the headchoppers isn't going to endure any better than did the Malenkov/Ribbentropf Pact.

Thirty-five per cent has always been enough to finally prevail - thwenty-five per cent - not so much.