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American Crisis

American Crisis

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American Crisis

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Presentation Transcript

  1. American Crisis

  2. 1776 • 1776 was not a good year for the American cause • 6 weeks after the Declaration of Independence was signed, Continental Army was defeated at Long Island • George Washington was forced to surrender New York City • The Continental Army was in retreat across New Jersey trying to escape into Pennsylvania

  3. The British Plans • With New York secure, Britain prepares to launch the final assault on the rebel strongholds: • 6,000 soldiers to attack Boston • 10,000 to secure Western New York • 8,000 to cross New Jersey and invade Philadelphia, the capital • Enlists Hessian (German) Mercenaries to help carry out the attack • Britain’s strategy, if carried out, will end the war in 1777

  4. The Continental Army • Soldiers desert Washington after the loss of New York • The army dwindled to 5000 soldiers • Many of their contracted enlistments were up on New Year’s Day • People question whether Washington is the right man for the job • Philadelphia was evacuated fearing the impending British attack • The whole revolution was on the verge of collapse

  5. American Crisis • Thomas Paine writes American Crisis to inspire the Continental Army to keep fighting

  6. American 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 his country; but he that stands by it now deserves the love and thanks of man and woman. Tyranny, like hell, is not easily conquered; yet we have this consolation with us, that the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph.” • –Thomas Paine, American Crisis

  7. One Last Shot • With his army collapsing, Washington risks everything on one final counterstrike • The situation is so desperate, Washington knows that he shouldn’t win, or possibly win… HE MUST WIN • Washington proposes a nighttime, sneak attack on the Hessian and British forces at Trenton, New Jersey • He MUST change tactics because the Continental Army will never win a head-on conflict with the British

  8. European Strategy • Campaign Season was from April to October • Between October and March the weather was too poor to march or fight in • Armies would make camp (called winter quarters) to rest up, resupply, and train • Start fighting again in the spring • Washington proposes to launch his attack on Christmas Day

  9. Victory or Death • Failure is not an option: if they lose this battle, the war is over • The army has to get across the Delaware River, into New Jersey, and march to Trenton before sunrise • Washington orders “American Crisis” read to the army before they go • Washington’s final order before the start: “Victory or Death” • 11:00 pm, Christmas Night, the first boats set off…

  10. Washington Crossing the Delaware River

  11. Crossing the Delaware • The most famous painting of the Revolutionary War got it wrong • It was pitch black…below freezing…in the middle of a snowstorm • No one stood up in the boat • The weather was so bad it took far longer to cross the river than Washington had planned • For a few brief moments, he considered turning back

  12. The March to Trenton • December 26: the last soldier crosses the river at 3:00 AM • Washington realizes he has no hope of getting to Trenton under cover of darkness • 4:00 AM: The Continental Army begins its nine mile march to Trenton

  13. “These are the Times that Try Men’s Souls…” • The Continentals marched waist deep through snow drifts • The gunpowder got wet, meaning they would have to fight hand-to-hand with bayonets • Many soldiers did not have boots or shoes • Their feet started to bleed, turning the snow red as they left bloody footprints • Several soldiers developed frostbite • Several more laid down in the snow and froze to death from the extreme cold • Washington encouraged his men to keep marching

  14. The Battle of Trenton • 8:00 AM: The Continentals arrive at Trenton and surround the town • Washington gives the command to open fire • The Hessians are caught completely off-guard • By noon, Washington has his first major victory of the war in almost a year

  15. The Turn of the Tide • The Continental victory at Trenton saved the American Revolution • Enlistments started to go up • Faith in Washington was restored • The Continentals showed they could beat the British regulars in a battle • Washington learns to fight the war through GUERILLA WARFARE: a hit-and-run defensive strategy that always ensured the army would live to fight another day

  16. Modern Warfare • The strategy for Great Britain now is to force Washington into a single, pitched battle to end the war • The strategy for the Continentals is avoid, escape, and evade direct conflict at all costs • Keep the army on the run and on the move • Harass the British and cut off their supply lines • Force Britain to spend so much time, money and energy chasing that the stalemate forces them to negotiate

  17. The Road Ahead • January 2, 1777: The Continentals score another decisive victory at Princeton, New Jersey • Washington now has a strategy to fight the British • He does not have the money, manpower or resources to carry it out • And the biggest battles of the Revolution are yet to come…