9. Stories about American Revolution and George Washington

Story #1 –    British General Howe’s 25,000 men captured Philadelphia, late Fall, 1777.
                      11,000 American soldiers retreated to Valley Forge, December 19, 1777.

Lacking food and supplies, soldiers died rate twelve per day. Over 2,500 froze to death in bitter cold, or perished from hunger, typhoid, jaundice, dysentery, pneumonia. Hundreds of horses perished in freezing weather. Committee from Congress reported on soldiers: “Feet and legs froze till they became black, and it was often necessary to amputate them.” Of the wives and children who followed the army, mending clothes, doing laundry and scavenging for food, an estimated 500 died.                                                                                                            

Story #2 – 1770’s Bitter Christmas at Valley Forge, Morristown, New Jersey bad also.   Over 11,000 Americans died on British POW starving ships 3 winters of war.

New York harbor, Brooklyn, British Navy took obsolete ships and turned into Prison Ships American pow’s, but also civilians – women and children. In American Revolution, over 11,000 Americans died on prison ships mostly disease, starvation and untreated wounds. Several thousand younger and better condition others barbarously exiled East Indies for life. Every day dead pulled out of ships, put on small British naval craft and dumped into bay or ocean. 


Story #3 –      The father of our nation knew how to throw a Christmas party. Christmas at Mount Vernon was the highlight of the year – for all.

Thousands of pounds of bacon, gallons of homemade rye whiskey, a massive “great cake.” Everyone got four days off to celebrate at Mount Vernon plantation, slaved included and there one recorded visit by a camel. There was Martha’s recipe for “great cake”—40 eggs, 4 pounds of butter, 4 pounds of powdered sugar, 5 pounds of fruit and a half pint each of wine and brandy thrown in for good measure.  One of largest distillers in colonies, Washington supplied gallon of whiskey each as modest gift everyone even slaves. . Presidential Christmases in New York and then Philadelphia were more formal affairs with leading legislators than the family-focused fetes most enjoyed by Washington at Mount Vernon.


Story #4  – American Revolution, General Washington – Disease almost ended success. Smallpox ten times more American deaths than combat from 1775-1783

Americans suspected British trying infect army with smallpox. British troops inoculated or had smallpox and immune. In Europe nearly everyone exposed to disease, adult population antibodies protected it. Most American soldiers susceptible. Americans reached adulthood without contact smallpox virus, no immunity. George Washington dilemma. If he ordered inoculation of army, most troops in hospital same time—a disaster if British learned of it. Washington ordered all new recruits inoculated before sent main army. Even with precautions, at one time, one-third army sick with disease or inoculation

Story #5 –  Patriotic colonial woman who stood up to British,showed great courage.
Little known to Americans – but spirit and bravery make her a true hero.

Here’s a woman who refused to let the men have all the fun in the Revolutionary War. While her husband, a lieutenant in the Georgia militia, was off fighting the British, she remained at home to tend to the children and farmhouse—and spy on the Redcoats. She was known to dress up, act like a “simpleminded man,” and wander into British camps to gather information that she then passed to revolutionary authorities. Her defiance knew no bounds, as evidenced by one group of six Tory men who met their match when they made the mistake of messing with Mrs. Hart. They arrived at Hart’s farmhouse, demanding food and drink. Nancy opened some bottles of wine and secretly sent one of her daughters out the back door to blow a conch shell and alarm the neighbors of the unwanted guests in her cabin. As the Tories grew progressively drunk, Nancy began passing their weapons to her daughter in the backyard through a hole in the chink of her cabin. When the Tories realized what she was up to, she went on the defensive and held them at gunpoint with one of their own weapons, shooting one Tory who decided not to keep his distance from her. Her husband arrived shortly after—he wanted to shoot them all, but she insisted they be hanged.

Story #6 Weary and longing for private life after eight years of the Revolutionary War, George Washington did not seek or even want to be President of the U. S.

Writing to fellow general and war-time intimate Henry Knox (who he would name his first Secretary of War) Washington confesses:
“In confidence I tell you that my movements to the chair of Government will be accompanied by feelings not unlike those of a culprit who is going to the place of his execution:.So unwilling am I, in the evening of a life nearly consumed in public cares, to quit a peaceful abode for an Ocean of difficulties, without that competency of political skill, abilities and inclination which is necessary to manage the helm. I am sensible that I am embarking the voice of the people and a good name of my own, on this voyage, but what returns will be made for them, Heaven alone can foretell. Integrity and firmness is all I can promise, These, shall never forsake me although I may be deserted by all men; for of the consolations which are to be derived from these under any circumstances, the world cannot deprive me…”