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INTERIOR WASHINGTON'S HEADQUARTERS IN BRUNSWICK - DAY
NEW JERSEY, NOVEMBER 1776
GENERAL GEORGE WASHINGTON is sitting at his desk writing, when aide STEPHEN MOYLAN enters with an EXPRESS MESSENGER.
Sir, an express message from General Lee.
Good. Let's see it.
It is addressed to Colonel Reed, sir.
Oh. Since Colonel Reed is not here now,
I am authorized to open his letters.
Very good, General Washington.
He hands the letter to Washington and goes out. Washington breaks the seal and reads the letter, becoming very disappointed.
General Lee still is not moving his forces
to join our woefully weak army.
He wants to attack the British and a "Ranger Rogers."
He must not realize the danger we are in
and the various retreats we have had to make.
Can I make it any clearer?
I did not give him a direct order
only out of respect for his status
as second in command.
His southern victories may have gone to his head,
and perhaps he wants to be first.
Washington has been examining the letter closely.
This is embarrassing: my good friend Reed
must have written to him that I am "indecisive."
I shall write a letter to Colonel Reed
apologizing for opening a private letter.
The business of his office
requires you to open his letters, sir.
We must send another letter to General Lee,
telling him to bring his troops here immediately.
If they do not arrive soon,
I shall send you, Colonel Moylan,
to push forward his troops
as well as those of General Gates.
General Howe has issued a proclamation,
offering a pardon to anyone who swears loyalty
to the crown in the next fifty days.
The British seem to be gaining men
as fast as we are losing them.
I have warned Congress that these short enlistments
which expire at the end of the year
could destroy what is left of our army.
If we are not careful,
the British could attack Philadelphia.
That would get the attention of Congress.
INT. BASKINGRIDGE TAVERN - MORNING
GENERAL CHARLES LEE, half-dressed in slippers, dirty linen and a blanket coat, is having breakfast with MAJOR WILKINSON. An AIDE reports to Lee from the door.
Sir, some Connecticut Light Horse are at the door.
What do they want this time?
One wants forage, another his horse shod,
and a third comes for his pay.
Their wants are numerous,
but you have not mentioned the last:
they want to go home and shall be indulged;
for damn them, they do no good here.
Have them come back after I have had breakfast.
The Aide goes out.
It is good you delivered to me the letter
addressed to Washington from General Gates.
Not being able to get to General Washington,
I thought I could give it to the second in command.
Your experience is well respected, General Lee.
The ingenious maneuver
at Fort Washington last month,
which lost us nearly three thousand men
has completely unhinged
the goodly fabric I had been building.
There never was so damned a stroke;
a certain great man is damnably deficient.
He has thrown me into a situation
where I have my choice of difficulties;
if I stay in this province I risk myself and army,
and if I do not stay, the province is lost forever.
The Aide comes in with COLONEL SCAMMELL.
Sir, the adjutant general from General Sullivan
has come for orders concerning the morning march.
Yes, Colonel Scammel, do you have a map?
Yes, sir, I do.
Col. Scammell spreads out a map on the table, as Major Wilkinson and the Aide move a few dishes. Charles Lee traces with his finger the route from Vealtown to Pluckamin to Somerset Courthouse by Rocky Hill to Princeton; then he traces from Pluckamin by Boundbrook to Brunswick.
Tell General Sullivan
to move down towards Pluckamin;
that I will soon be with him.
Very good, sir.
Col. Scammell rolls up the map and goes out.
Sir, is this not off the route to Alexandria
where General Washington ordered you
to cross the Delaware?
Yes, but this way I could attack Princeton.
Aide, get me paper so that I can write to Gates.
EXTERIOR BASKINGRIDGE TAVERN - MORNING
The Guards have stacked their weapons and are laying in the sun on the south side of the house in order to get warm, when suddenly a party of British Dragoons rides up and surrounds the house, as the Guards run in different directions.
INT. BASKINGRIDGE TAVERN - MORNING
Major Wilkinson is looking out the window, as Charles Lee finishes the letter.
Here, sir, are the British cavalry!
Around the house!
Where is the Guard?
Damn the Guard, why don't they fire?
Do, sir, see what has become of the Guard.
TWO WOMEN appear and beckon to Charles Lee.
Please, General Lee,
we can conceal you in a bed.
Do you think I would hide in that manner?
Major Wilkinson goes into another room separated by a narrow passageway and draws a pistol in each hand. The voice of a BRITISH OFFICER is heard from outside.
BRITISH OFFICER'S VOICE
If the General does not surrender in five minutes,
I will set fire to the house!
EXT. BASKINGRIDGE TAVERN - MORNING
Lee's Aide and then Charles Lee come out of the tavern to surrender to the British troops.
Here is the General;
he has surrendered.
They are greeted by cheers from the British. Lee is mounted on Wilkinson's horse, and they all ride off with their prisoner.
EXT. NEAR MCKONKEY'S FERRY - SUNSET
Washington, GENERALS GREENE, SULLIVAN, HUGH MERCER, ADAM STEPHEN, and LORD STIRLING are mounted on horses observing the ground as troops get ready to board ferries to cross the Delaware. A cold wind blows, and there is ice floating in the river.
Major Wilkinson just gave me a letter from Gates.
Is that the Wilkinson who was there
when General Lee was taken prisoner?
General Gates is in Philadelphia
on his way to Congress,
which, as you know,
has removed itself to Baltimore.
General Sullivan, you brought only half
the number of troops General Lee wrote me he had.
I am sorry, sir.
In addition to desertions
we have suffered much
from disease and lack of shoes.
Nevertheless we must go on the attack,
or by next week when the year ends,
we may be down to no more than twelve hundred men.
We must depend on these militia now,
for you may as well attempt
to stop the winds from blowing
as the Regiments from going
when their term is expired.
We will give the Hessians a Christmas
they shall never forget.
The Germans drink heavily on such a holiday.
If we can get the men
across the Delaware by midnight,
we should be able to march to Trenton before dawn.
General Ewing with the Pennsylvania militia
is to cross a mile below Trenton
to secure the Assunpink bridge
and cut off their retreat,
and General Putnam is to cross below Burlington.
It is a good plan, sir.
... if we can catch them by surprise.
EXT. ROAD TO TRENTON - DAWN
As snow is falling, Washington rides up to the head of Greene's column, where Greene and Adam Stephen are talking.
General Greene, why have you halted?
We are late; it is already dawn.
CAPTAIN RICHARD ANDERSON of Stephen's Virginia Brigade steps forward.
Sir, General Stephen sent me
yesterday to reconnoiter.
I have encountered the Trenton outpost,
and my men have shot a sentinel.
Washington turns to General Stephen.
General Stephen, how dare you send a patrol
the day before this operation without my authority?!
You, sir, may have ruined all my plans
by having put them on their guard!
Captain Anderson, your men must be tired.
You may proceed with the vanguard
so that your troops will not have to wait.
Washington rides along the line of troops, exhorting the men.
Soldiers, keep by your officers;
for God's sake, keep by your officers.
Suddenly Washington's white horse has its hind feet slip on the icy road. The horse nearly topples down, but Washington grabs the horse's mane with his hands, pulling the horse's head up. Some soldiers who observe this are impressed by his dexterity and command of the situation.
EXT. PENNINGTON ROAD NEAR TRENTON - EIGHT O'CLOCK A.M.
Washington is leading a column toward the village amid a snowstorm with CAPTAIN FOREST of the artillery. They approach a MAN WHO IS CHOPPING WOOD.
Which way is the Hessian picket?
I don't know.
You may tell, for that is General Washington.
God bless and prosper you!
The picket is in that house,
and the sentry stands near that tree.
Washington gives orders to CAPTAIN WILLIAM WASHINGTON and LIEUTENANT JAMES MONROE.
Captain Washington and Lieutenant Monroe,
take your Virginians and dislodge the picket.
Captain Forest, deploy the artillery.
Yes, sir. Set up the guns.
Captain Forest gets the artillery ready to fire on the town, while Captain Washington's men attack the house. The Hessian soldiers come out shouting. Shots can also be heard from the other end of town.
Der fiend! Der fiend!
I can hear shots from the other end of town, sir.
Yes, Sullivan's men must be attacking there now.
General Greene's men are closing in also.
Fire the guns.
The artillery begins to bombard the town. Washington leads the troops down King's Road on the left with Captain Forest riding next to him.
We will advance on the left.
Sir, you are exposing yourself!
Please fall back!
your cannons are aiming too far to the right.
Aim more to the left.
The Hessians have moved two cannons into the main street and are getting ready to fire them, but Captain Washington and Lieutenant Monroe lead their men to attack them just in time to prevent their firing. Captain Washington is wounded in the wrist, and Monroe is wounded in the shoulder. The Hessians run away, most of them crossing the Assunpink bridge, but many are captured. Washington gives an order to his aide, Colonel Baylor.
Order Colonel Hand's corps of Riflemen to pursue.
The Hessians are trapped and brought to a stand.
Discharge a canister.
Sir, they have struck.
Yes, sir, their colors are down.
So they are!
Washington spurs his horse in that direction. He sees some Germans assisting a badly wounded officer, COLONEL RALL, into a church. Then he is met by Major Wilkinson riding the other way.
Sir, I come from General Sullivan.
The last Hessian Regiment has grounded arms.
Washington reaches out and shakes the hand of Wilkinson.
This is a glorious day for our country.
find out who that Hessian officer is
and see that he gets a physician.
EXT. TRENTON STREET - NOON
Washington is conferring with Greene, Sullivan, Hugh Mercer, Stephen, and Stirling, as the prisoners are being processed.
How many men have we lost?
None of mine were killed, sir.
As far as we can tell, not one American died.
And how many Hessians have we captured?
About thirty officers and nine hundred all together.
There would have been more, sir,
but General Ewing did not block the Assunpink bridge,
because he was not able to cross the Delaware.
The prisoners are to be marched to McKonkey's Ferry
and rowed across the Delaware to Pennsylvania.
The Hessians who are badly wounded
may be paroled and left in the village.
I want all the Hessians to be treated well.
Do you think we can undertake an advance now?
Sir, the men have done all they could.
Now they are cold, wet, and weary.
We destroyed forty hogsheads of rum,
but still many men are getting drunk.
The storm is very bad, sir,
and the ice in the river could prevent
our support wagons from being brought across.
The Hessians had few provisions here.
All right, we will withdraw for a time.
EXT. PARADE GROUND IN TRENTON - DAY
A New England Regiment in lines is standing in the snow, Washington and GENERAL MIFFLIN are in front of them on horseback. Washington moves forward a little and addresses the troops.
Men of New England whose enlistments end today,
I urgently appeal to you that you volunteer
to stay with the Army for another six weeks.
We have won a great victory here at Trenton.
At this time your services are greatly needed.
You can do more for your country now
than you ever could at any future period.
We are offering you a bounty of ten dollars
in addition to your regular salary
to all those who remain for another six weeks.
All those volunteering take one step forward.
The drums roll, but none of the soldiers move. Washington wheels his horse about and rides in front of the regiment, exhorting them with deep emotion.
My brave fellows,
you have done all I asked you to do
and more than could be reasonably expected;
but your country is at stake, your wives,
your houses and all that you hold dear.
You have worn yourselves out
with fatigues and hardships,
but we know not how to spare you.
If you will consent to stay only six weeks longer,
you will render that service
to the cause of liberty and to your country
which you probably never can do
under any other circumstances.
The present is emphatically the crisis
which is to decide our destiny.
The drums roll again, and a few men step forward, followed by many others until all but the most sick and ill-clad have volunteered.
Sir, should the men volunteering be enrolled?
No. Men who will volunteer in such a case as this
need no enrollment to keep them to their duty.
INT. ST. CLAIR'S HEADQUARTERS IN TRENTON - EVENING
Washington has convened a council of war with Generals ST. CLAIR, Greene, Sullivan, Hugh Mercer, and Mifflin.
According to our intelligence reports,
General Cornwallis has about seven thousand men
camped on the other side of the Assunpink Creek,
where we were able to hold them off today.
We are vastly outnumbered
and could be trapped next to the Delaware River.
The enemy is clearly planning
to surround and destroy our Army;
surely they also know that many of our troops
have departed at the end of their enlistments.
We cannot risk a battle here.
What are our other options?
We could retreat
across the Delaware to Pennsylvania,
but the boats are far upstream,
and we could never cross in one night.
That would mean fighting while we try to cross.
We could march down the left bank of the Delaware,
but we would have to stand and fight eventually,
and the crossing would still be difficult.
Another retreat and defeat
would badly hurt our cause.
I think we need to follow up our victory here
with another bold move.
Colonel Cadwalader has informed me
that the British have much baggage at Brunswick.
If they have moved
such a large force from Princeton,
there could not be many men left there.
We could turn the left flank of the enemy tonight
and gain a march on them toward Brunswick.
Yes, we could fall upon them at Princeton.
We would avoid a devastating defeat
and could gain a victory at the same time.
Colonel Reed knows that country well.
Sir, I observed that road today
while guarding the Assunpink Creek.
If the Army can get there unopposed,
I am sure that we can march through.
I like the plan very much.
All in favor?
They all raise their hands.
We move out tonight at midnight.
Everyone must be as quiet as possible.
Make sure the rearguard keeps our fires burning
so that the British will think we're still here.
EXT. HILL NEAR PRINCETON - MORNING
Washington is leading a column up a hill approaching the Post Road. COLONEL FITZGERALD rides up with a message.
the British are attacking General Mercer's men
on the Post Road to Princeton.
Washington reaches the top of the hill and from there can see the British leaving the road and attacking Mercer's Regiments in an orchard. Close to the enemy, First Virginia CAPTAIN JOHN FLEMING shouts an order.
Gentlemen, dress before you make ready.
Damn you, sir, we will dress you.
The British fire at the Virginians who then fire back so effectively that most in that British Regiment scream and run away. Washington observes this and also General Mercer's men who are under attack.
Hooray for Captain Fleming's Virginians!
go and bring up Cadwalader's militia
from the Quaker Road to support Mercer.
The Pennsylvanians are retreating from the orchard, when from the hill where COLONEL CADWALADER's column is moving comes artillery fire from two field pieces, which forces the British behind the fence to retreat back to their main body of troops. The British fire back with their artillery and two field pieces which they have taken from Mercer's Regiment. The Americans are falling back in chaos, while Washington, Greene, and Cadwalader on horseback try to rally them.
Stay with your officers!
Stand and fight, men!
Form a line here!
Webb reports back to Washington.
Colonel Hitchcock's Continentals are coming up, sir.
Ah good, the rearguard!
Order Hitchcock to take the right.
General Greene, form the Pennsylvanians
and Colonel Hand's Riflemen on the flank
beyond the right of Hitchcock.
Washington rides among the militia, as Cadwalader tries to organize them into a line.
Parade with us, my brave fellows;
there is but a handful of the enemy,
and we will have them directly!
Since they discover that they are out of range of the enemy now, the Pennsylvanians soon form a line. Washington rides to the head of the line, to the left of Hitchcock, followed by Fitzgerald.
Sir, must you expose yourself to enemy fire?
Yes, I am in command.
and do not fire until I say so.
The line of troops with Washington and Fitzgerald in front advances without hesitating or breaking while the British bullets are being fired at them. When they are about thirty yards from the British, Washington stops and shouts.
Fitzgerald cannot bear to watch Washington in danger any longer and covers his face with his hat, while the volley is delivered, causing a cloud of smoke to envelope them. As the smoke clears, Fitzgerald sees that Washington is all right. He spurs his horse over to him.
Thank God, your Excellency is safe!
Fitzgerald breaks into tears, and Washington takes him by the hand.
Away, my dear Colonel,
and bring up the troops;
the day is our own.
The British line has broken, and they begin to retreat, although some attempt to save the field pieces, while their officers are trying to rally them. However, most of their shots go astray, and soon they are in flight.
see that the enemy's baggage is guarded.
It is a fine fox chase, my boys!
Washington spurs his horse and pursues the fleeing British along with the Americans.
Washington is returning from the battle and seeks out Hitchcock to shake his hand.
you must thank your officers and men
in my name for their courageous advance.
Washington sees a wounded British soldier on the ground.
You put up a gallant defense and can be proud.
As Washington is riding away, a civilian comes up to the wounded man and tries to rob him. Noticing this, Washington goes back and chases him away.
Get away from there, you thief!
Corporal, post a guard with this wounded man
until he can be moved.
Washington rides back to the main body of troops and is greeted by General Sullivan.
General Washington, we were afraid
you had been killed or captured.
We are so happy to see you and for the victory.
General Mercer has been mortally wounded.
Also Colonel Haslet and Captain Fleming are dead.
No victory is untarnished when such men die.
Prepare the men to march;
perhaps they are not too tired
to seize Somerset Court House.
If we only had six or eight hundred fresh troops,
with a forced march we could take Brunswick,
its stores and large military chest.
That possibly could put an end to this war,
but we must be content to do what we can.
INT. WASHINGTON'S HEADQUARTERS IN MORRISTOWN - EVENING
Washington is dining with his wife MARTHA, Generals Greene, Sullivan, Mifflin, and some of their WIVES.
Sir, do you think your proclamation
will bring some of the Tories
into our headquarters to change their loyalties?
I hope so;
otherwise they will be treated as enemies.
Is that the dictatorial power Congress gave you
in war emergencies for a period of six months?
It is that,
and some people are complaining about it.
Instead of thinking myself
freed from civil obligations
by this mark of confidence from the Delegates,
I constantly bear in mind that
as the sword was the last resort
for the preservation of our liberties,
so it ought to be the first to be laid aside
when those liberties are firmly established.
I understand that our hospitals are deplorable.
We are attempting to remedy them.
Congress has voted to dismiss the directors.
Now we have all the men inoculated for smallpox.
There is currently only one case in the camp.
We have lost many men due to disease;
smallpox was especially devastating in Canada.
Can we hold the Army together
with all the desertions?
The militias provide only motley crews,
who are here today and gone tomorrow.
At least now we can enlist Continentals
with a bounty for the duration of the war.
What troubles me is that some of the officers
have actually falsified enrollments
and then claimed they have deserted
in order to pocket their bounties.
That is unforgivable.
What about General Heath's tactic of
demanding the surrender of Fort Independence
and then marching away
without even attacking it?
That was farcical and turns the laugh upon us.
So how long do you think
the Army will remain here at Morristown?
The men have built log cabins for the winter.
It all depends on where Howe takes his Army.
Our intelligence reports predict Philadelphia.
INT. WASHINGTON'S HEADQUARTERS AT MORRISTOWN - DAY
COLONEL ALEXANDER HAMILTON comes in to report to Washington.
Sir, another French officer is here to see you.
He calls himself Colonel Thomas Conway
of the Army of His Most Christian Majesty,
and he has the usual letter from Silas Deane.
What am I supposed to do with these Frenchmen?
Bring him in, Colonel Hamilton.
Hamilton goes out and immediately returns with THOMAS CONWAY.
I am delighted
to make your acquaintance, General.
At least you can speak English.
It is difficult to find a use for officers
who cannot give orders in English or recruit.
I was born in Ireland but educated in France,
where I have served for thirty years.
I came across on the ship that brought many cannon.
Yes, we are grateful for the ammunition
we have been receiving from France.
That has solved one of our biggest problems.
What position are you seeking?
As a chevalier in the order of St. Louis,
I am qualified to be adjutant or a brigadier general.
You have two French Brigadiers
who served under me.
It is reasonable that you would not be below them.
I will write a letter for you to take to Congress.
I am most grateful, sir.
INT. WASHINGTON'S HEADQUARTERS AT WILMINGTON - DAY
Hamilton reports to Washington, bringing in a message.
Sir, this message has arrived from the North.
Washington opens the letter and reads.
General Stark has made
an attack in New Hampshire,
killing two hundred
and taking seven hundred prisoners.
How many Americans were lost?
Casualties were only about a hundred,
and the booty was considerable.
Announce the victory in general orders.
Every indication now is that the British fleet
is going up Chesapeake Bay toward Philadelphia.
After the enemy took Ticonderoga,
it seemed that their best strategy
was to attack in the North.
It was that or Philadelphia.
After following Howe all over Jersey,
apparently he has chosen the latter
but by a roundabout way.
We must march south to protect that city.
Sir, some of the officers have suggested
that we march our troops through Philadelphia.
Yes, that could be good for morale.
See that clothes are washed, arms burnished,
and that every soldier's hat is dressed
with a green sprig as an emblem of hope.
Very good, sir.
Oh yes, the Marquis de Lafayette
has arrived from Philadelphia fully equipped.
Send him in; I like that young man.
Congress has made him a major general.
Hamilton goes out and returns with LAFAYETTE, who is dressed in a splendid uniform.
Bon jour, General.
Good morning, sir.
It is somewhat embarrassing
to show ourselves to an officer
who has just come from the French Army.
C'est pour apprendre et non pour enseigner
que je suis ici.
He says that he is here not to instruct
but to learn.
That is a good attitude.
I cannot give you command of a division,
but I would be honored
for you to be in my family.
Je suis content etre ici avec vous.
I happy to be with you.
You are very welcome here.
EXT. CHESTNUT STREET IN PHILADELPHIA - NOON
Washington, with Lafayette next to him on horseback, leads the motley-dressed American troops down the main street in a parade that is greeted by some cheering people and others who seem apprehensive. Behind Washington and Lafayette ride Hamilton and the other Aides, followed by General Greene and his division. Washington speaks to Lafayette as they parade. All the American soldiers have green leaves attached to their hats. Washington speaks to Lafayette as they ride.
It is our responsibility to guard this city.
For the first time
I think we shall have to stand
and fight a traditional battle,
for 'tis the only way
we can keep the British out.
INT. WASHINGTON'S HEADQUARTERS NEAR BRANDYWINE - EVENING
Washington has convened a council of war with Generals Greene, MAXWELL, WAYNE, WEEDON, MUHLENBERG, Sullivan, Stirling, Stephen, Lincoln, Lafayette, and ARMSTRONG.
For two years we have maintained the war
and struggled with difficulties innumerable,
but the prospect has brightened.
Now is the time to reap the fruit
of all our toils and dangers;
if we behave like men,
this third campaign will be our last.
We will cut off General Howe from Philadelphia
by placing our forces along Brandywine Creek.
Prepare to march there tonight.
The most practicable crossing is at Chad's Ford.
There I want the Brigades of General Wayne
and General Maxwell's light infantry.
General Greene, post the Brigades
of Generals Weedon and Muhlenberg
in the rear of the heights as a reserve.
Very good, sir.
General Sullivan, you will command the right wing,
supported by the Divisions of Stirling and Stephen.
On the left protecting the lower fords
will be General Armstrong's Pennsylvania militia.
EXT. CHAD'S FORD BATTLELINES - DAY
Washington is walking behind the lines observing the firing of cannon and encouraging the men. Often when he is newly seen by the troops, they greet him with cheers or huzzahs. After an effective artillery shot, he comments.
That is showing them your skill, gentlemen.
COLONEL HARRISON, an older man who acts as Washington's secretary approaches him.
I sent off the note to Congress in Philadelphia
saying that we expect to repulse the enemy.
Thank you, Colonel Harrison.
Lafayette approaches Washington and hands him a report.
report from Colonel Hazen at Jones Ford.
Washington looks at the report.
The British are moving to the forks of the creek.
Colonel Harrison, write an order for Colonel Bland
to reconnoiter on the right with his Light Horse.
direct Generals Stirling and Stephen to move
their Divisions to Birmingham Meeting House.
Right away, sir.
An express rides up and hands Washington a report, which he quickly reads.
The Eighth Pennsylvanian
has seen five thousand British
marching to Taylor's Ferry and Jeffrey's Ferry.
That means enemy forces here must be very weak.
Colonel Tilghman, tell General Greene to prepare
his Division to cross the creek and attack.
MAJOR SPEAR rides up and hands Washington a message from General Sullivan.
Sir, General Sullivan has heard nothing
of the enemy above the forks
and says that Colonel Hazen must be wrong.
Our intelligence reports are in conflict.
To be safe we must cancel the attack.
General Lafayette, tell General Greene
that his orders to attack are revoked.
Oui, mon General.
EXT. RING FARMHOUSE NEAR CHAD'S FORD - DAY
A FARMER rides up to Washington's headquarters which is surrounded by a guard headed by CAPTAIN CALEB GIBBS.
Please, I must speak to General Washington!
The General is busy now.
The Army must move immediately!
Washington comes out of the house.
What do you know?
The enemy is coming down this side of the creek
and will be here any time now.
All my information indicates
that they are on the other side of the Brandywine.
You are mistaken, General.
My life for it, you are mistaken.
By hell, it is so;
put me under guard till you find my story true.
Captain, I am going to the right to see.
He mounts his horse, while his Guards, Aides and Lafayette scramble to keep up with him. After riding a short way, Washington is met by a MESSENGER.
General Washington, I have dispatches
from Colonel Bland and General Sullivan.
Let me see them.
The enemy is on the heights and coming down
behind the rear of our right wing.
They have outflanked us.
Sullivan must direct Stirling's and Stephen's forces
that are on their way there now.
I will remain at Chad's Ford with Greene
to direct the center.
Sir, permission to engage with Sullivan's Division.
Lafayette rides off in that direction.
EXT. CHAD'S FORD BATTLELINES - AFTERNOON
Washington is giving orders through Hamilton.
Greene must move his Division to the right.
Let General Lincoln hold off the enemy here.
I am also going to join them on the right.
EXT. RING HOUSE - AFTERNOON
Washington and his staff mounted on horses have found an old man named BROWN to guide them to the Birmingham Meeting House.
Sir, Brown knows the way
to Birmingham Meeting House.
I am not going.
Find someone else.
I stay away from bullets.
Tilghman dismounts and approaches Brown with a drawn sword.
Mr. Brown, you get on this horse now
and guide General Washington to that place,
or I swear I will run you through this minute.
Brown promptly mounts the horse and takes off, followed by Washington and the others. Washington stays right on his flank, as they race across fields and leap over fences.
Push along, old man; push along.
EXT. BATTLEFIELD NEAR BIRMINGHAM MEETINGHOUSE - AFTERNOON
Brown, Washington and his staff reach a road where bullets are flying all around. Washington sees the American forces and heads in their direction, while Brown dismounts and runs off. Washington passes by the skulkers and many wounded men, riding up to General Sullivan.
Hello, General Washington.
I have just ordered Weedon's Brigade
to push forward on the right
through that plowed field on the hill.
The officers are rallying the men.
Good; my aides will help rally them too.
Form your lines here, men!
Washington's staff disperses somewhat to check the retreat. Washington also encourages the men to stand and fight. Lafayette has already been rallying men closer to the front, and he receives a shot in the left thigh. General Weedon's Brigade opens its ranks to let the Americans retreating from the front come through. Then they close up and march forward slowly. A confused American company fires some shots at Weedon's Brigade.
tell that officer over there
not to fire at Weedon's men.
EXT. BATTLEFIELD NEAR BIRMINGHAM COURTHOUSE - NIGHT
Washington has been riding around organizing the troops and is now returning to his tent exhausted. He meets Colonel Harrison and ADJUTANT GENERAL PICKERING outside the tent.
Congress must be written to, gentlemen,
and one of you must do it, for I am too sleepy.
Washington goes into the tent to lie down.
Do you think you could write this time,
I am awfully tired, too.
Certainly, Colonel Harrison.
Take some rest.
INT. WASHINGTON'S TENT NEAR BIRMINGHAM COURTHOUSE - NIGHT
General Pickering gently wakes Washington on his cot.
Sir, General Washington, here is the letter.
Washington sits up a little and reads the letter.
This is fine, General Pickering, but do you think
you could put in a word of hope
that another day may yield a better result.
Yes, sir, I will do that and send it off.
Please, sleep now.
INT. WASHINGTON'S TENT AT SCHUYLKILL FALLS - RAINY DAY
General Pickering enters the tent to report to Washington. The sound of pouring rain is rather loud.
Sir, most of the men's cartridges are soaked.
So we must call off the attack.
I am afraid so, sir.
We are short of food,
and about a thousand men are barefoot.
As an example to the officers,
for the time being I will carry no baggage
except my blankets.
Is that wise, sir?
Yes, I think it is, General Pickering.
This war will not be won without some sacrifices.
When the weather clears,
order Smallwood's Brigade
and Anthony Wayne's Division
to attack their rear;
maybe we can cut off the enemy's baggage.
INT. WASHINGTON'S HEADQUARTERS AT READING - DAY
Washington is visiting Lafayette who is recovering in bed.
How is General Lafayette today?
Hamilton comes in with a report.
Sir, the British have reversed their march,
are crossing the river at Fatland,
and will soon be entering Philadelphia.
So their march toward Reading was only a feint;
nevertheless we had to protect our supplies.
Congress will be reconvening in Lancaster.
At least there is not much left in Philadelphia
for the enemy to take advantage of.
By continuing to hold the water approaches,
we block supplies coming from the Delaware.
When we get some more troops, we can attack.
McDougall's Brigade should be arriving
from old Put's Division in New York any day now.
What about the militia from Virginia?
No word yet, sir.
INT. WASHINGTON'S HEADQUARTERS AT WORCESTER - DAY
Washington has convened Generals Pickering, Greene, Sullivan, Stirling, Stephen, Wayne, Armstrong, Stephen, Conway, Lafayette, MCDOUGALL, Maxwell, KNOX, and NASH.
We have intercepted two letters telling us
that the British plan to attack Billingsport
to help their Navy open the Delaware River.
Howe is encamped at Germantown near Philadelphia.
We could attack them simultaneously on four roads.
The plan is to get within two miles of their pickets
by two a.m. and then halt till four o'clock.
Exactly at five we assail their pickets.
Prepare to start marching tonight at seven.
General Washington, I am afraid that
some of the men got very little sleep last night.
The best we can do is have intervals of rest.
General Greene, you will manage the left wing.
I will be on the right with General Sullivan.
EXT. ROAD TO GERMANTOWN - FOGGY DAWN
The sounds of firing can be heard, as Washington rides forward with the troops amid thick fog. Washington turns to Pickering.
We cannot see in this fog.
I am afraid General Sullivan
is throwing away his ammunition;
ride forward and tell him to preserve it.
Tilghman rides up to Washington.
Sullivan says the enemy is giving way
and that Wayne should push on.
Yes, I agree,
and order Generals Maxwell and Nash
to put their troops on the flanks.
Henry Knox, General of the artillery, approaches Washington on foot.
there is a stone house over there
putting up a stiff resistance.
Most of our cannonballs are bouncing off.
Shall we demand the occupants lay down their arms?
You know the military maxim is:
Never leave a garrisoned castle in the rear.
Sir, our troops could easily skirt around it.
I agree with the Chief of Artillery.
Transmit a call for surrender under flag.
LIEUTENANT COLONEL SMITH, Deputy Adjutant General, volunteers.
Sir, I will take the summons.
Go to it, Colonel Smith.
I am afraid he is going to be killed, sir.
EXT. BATTLEFIELD AROUND CHEW'S HOUSE - FOGGY MORNING
Smith is walking toward Chew's House carrying a white flag, but he is mortally wounded by a shot from the house. One of Washington's aides, COLONEL LAURENS, tries to set fire to the house with straw from the stables, but he is wounded in the shoulder.
Look, General, your Aide, Colonel Laurens,
is trying to fire the house from the stable.
See that he gets immediate medical care.
Since the artillery is ineffective,
send a detachment to surround the house
so that the rest of the rearguard can advance.
We have lost enough time on that house.
Greene's Division should be engaged by now.
EXT. GERMANTOWN BATTLEFIELD - FOGGY MORNING
Washington has joined Sullivan in the midst of the fighting.
Sir, please retire;
it is too dangerous here.
Do you expect me to stay in the rear
when the banners of our republic
are sweeping forward?
Please, sir, we cannot afford to lose you.
All right, I will move back a little.
By the sound of that cannon on the left,
Greene must be driving the British back.
Victory is declaring herself in our favor.
Colonel Hamilton, summon General Armstrong
so that I can instruct him how to
deploy and advance on the far right.
What is happening over there on the left
with General Wayne's men?
Confused firing is heard, and out of the fog men are seen running frantically back. Some of the AMERICAN SOLDIERS are shouting.
AMERICAN SOLDIER #1
The enemy is in the rear!
AMERICAN SOLDIER #2
Our flank has been turned!
AMERICAN SOLDIER #3
American forces are firing at each other!
AMERICAN SOLDIER #4
Retreat! The order is to retreat!
Washington and many officers attempt to stop the headlong retreat but to no avail. Even the artillery gallops past on the road toward the rear.
Stop! Do not panic!
Men, recover your senses!
We shall retreat, but slow down.
Eventually the panic ends, and the retreat becomes more orderly.
WASHINGTON'S HEADQUARTERS AT PENNYPACKER'S MILL - DAY
Washington is speaking to MRS. FERGUSON.
Mrs. Ferguson, I have read the long letter
you brought me from the Reverend Duche.
I am surprised to discover that such a patriot
could make this sharp turnaround.
He has the country's best interest at heart.
I am not so sure.
To think that the man who stirred the Delegates
back in 1774 would urge me to call on Congress
to rescind the Declaration of Independence
and ask me to negotiate peace with Britain
at the head of this Army, is astonishing!
If I had known what this letter contained,
I would have returned it unopened.
However, now I must transmit it to Congress,
lest it be found among my papers
were I to be killed or made a prisoner.
Then Congress will decide what to do with it.
Yes, but I want you to know that I do not approve
of your participation in this affair,
and I would expect that as the fine lady you are,
you would make no such mistake in the future.
Washington leads her to the door and bows.
Goodby, General Washington.
INT. WASHINGTON'S HEADQUARTERS AT PENNYPACKER'S MILL - MORNING
Hamilton reports to Washington.
Sir, last night the British evacuated Germantown.
Howe has drawn his army back into Philadelphia.
We shall move our camp to White Marsh
in order to hover around them.
Has any word come from General Gates
confirming his victory over Burgoyne at Saratoga?
Only the letters from Old Put and General Clinton.
Why do I only hear of this major stroke indirectly?
Does not Gates believe he needs to report
to the Commander-in-Chief of the Army?
Already I have heard people talking
that Gates should be put in command.
I rejoice in his victory,
but I did send him the forces to make it possible.
Burgoyne had very difficult supply lines,
while Howe has easy access to the sea
where the British Navy has supremacy.
The copy Put sent us of the surrender terms
indicates that all of Burgoyne's men
are free to return to England
but may not fight in America
anymore during the present contest;
General Gates must have failed to realize
that those men could replace other troops at home
which could then be sent here to fight.
Write to Congress to warn them that the terms
stating that Burgoyne's men are to leave from Boston
must be strictly adhered to and their ships delayed
so that we can prevent them from sending
reinforcements for next year's campaign.
Colonel Hamilton, you and I will work on a letter
to General Gates congratulating him on his victory
and asking him to send us the forces we need.
I am afraid that the British will soon attack
Fort Mifflin and Fort Mercer
to open up the Delaware.
I have heard that General Conway
has a campaign going
for Congress to make him a Major General.
That would put him over all the American Brigadiers
who have served longer than he has.
Yes, several of them are considering resigning.
What am I to do?
I have been a slave to this service
and must harmonize so many discordant parts.
It will be impossible for me to serve
if such insuperable obstacles are thrown in my way.
General Mifflin is doing little as Quartermaster.
The Commissary is poor since Trumbull left
and Congress reorganized its procedures.
Hundreds of men lack shoes;
food and clothing is scarce already.
What is going to happen when winter comes?
I don't know, sir.
INT. WASHINGTON'S HEADQUARTERS AT WHITE MARSH - DAY
Lafayette is talking with Washington.
Mon General, what is the report
from Fort Mifflin and Fort Mercer?
They fought off the Hessian attack led by Count Donop.
The Count is killed, and two British ships destroyed.
Marquis, your French engineers made the difference.
How many losses did we sustain?
Eight Americans killed, twenty-nine wounded.
And the enemy?
About four hundred men killed and wounded.
It is a great victory then.
Sir, since I have no command of my own,
I volunteer to accompany General Greene
on his campaign in New Jersey.
I would give you command of a division,
but only Congress can make that appointment.
I will write and ask them
to give you the division of General Stephen
who was removed for drunkenness.
INT. WASHINGTON'S HEADQUARTERS AT WHITE MARSH - DAY
Washington hands written instructions to Hamilton.
the council of war decided to send you
as my personal representative to General Gates.
This letter congratulates him again on his victory
and states which regiments
he is to send down to me.
If he has specific plans to recapture Ticonderoga,
they may be adjusted somewhat,
but you are to be the judge of that.
Yes, you are also to go to General Putnam
who is commanding on the Hudson highlands.
We need some of his troops also,
and I do not want him attacking New York,
as he seems to be infatuated with that idea.
If Gates has already sent Morgan's Riflemen,
and you meet them on the road,
hurry them on.
Very good, sir.
EXT. WASHINGTON'S HEADQUARTERS IN GERMANTOWN - DAY
A Guard is posted around the Chew House, which is the house that refused to surrender during the Germantown battle.
INT. WASHINGTON'S HEADQUARTERS AT GERMANTOWN - DAY
Washington is on the top floor of the Chew House talking with his secretary Colonel Harrison and the Adjutant General Pickering.
Richard Henry Lee has written me
that Congress is considering
appointing both of you and Joseph Reed
to replace the Congressmen on the Board of War.
Naturally I am proud and glad for you,
but I would certainly miss your personal services.
Who would replace me as Adjutant General?
Of all people they are talking about General Conway.
I am afraid there is no one I dislike more.
That would be unpleasant.
I think I prefer to remain with you, sir.
Last night I got this letter from General Stirling
reporting that his Aide
heard from Colonel Wilkinson
while he was drunk that General Conway
in a letter to General Gates wrote the following:
"Heaven has been determined to save your country;
or a weak General and bad Counselors
would have ruined it."
Conway wrote that to Gates?!
That is wicked.
I have copied out the quote from the enclosure
for you to send it to General Conway.
Washington hands his letter to Colonel Harrison.
I will take care of it, sir.
Washington looks out the window at the river where he can see smoke and masts of tall ships.
I am afraid that this time we cannot stop
the British from taking Forts Mifflin and Mercer.
Order General Wayne and Morgan's Riflemen
to attack Province Island and spike their guns.
The forts must be prepared to evacuate
before Cornwallis can deliver his assault.
Yes, sir, but I am not sure that Morgan's men
have adequate footgear to walk on the icy roads.
Nothing could be more frustrating than this.
I have written Congress
that two-thirds of our Army
is unable to operate because they lack shoes.
EXT. VALLEY FORGE - DAY
Washington marching at the head of his troops has arrived at a place called Valley Forge, where there are a few scattered dwellings and farm buildings. GENERAL JOHANN DE KALB is riding next to Washington when he halts the column by stopping and holding up his hand.
This is it: Valley Forge.
I still think it is a mistake.
Look how desolate and uncultivated it is.
The farther away we go from Howe's Army
the more area they have for forage,
and for security we cannot be too close to them.
This is the best our scouts could find.
If the Pennsylvanians want an Army in the field,
then why don't they supply it?
That is a good question.
This Army could starve, dissolve or disperse
if we do not get the help we need.
Have the officers start organizing the work
of chopping down the trees and building cabins.
I will share the hardships with the men.
I want my headquarters here rather than in town.
For now we will use that house there.
INT. WASHINGTON'S HEADQUARTERS AT VALLEY FORGE - DAY
Hamilton reports to Washington.
Sir, I am sorry to say that your orders
for the men to march to meet the British at Derby
are being disregarded by every company.
Not enough men have adequate clothing or shoes,
and even if they were equipped for winter ice,
there are not provisions for a field operation.
What does the Commissary report?
The one commissary officer in the camp
says he has no animals for slaughter
and can count only twenty-five barrels of flour.
Is any food expected soon?
The men have been chanting, sir.
If you come outside, you can hear it for yourself.
Hamilton and Washington go out the door.
EXT. VALLEY FORGE CAMP - DAY
Hamilton and Washington come out of headquarters to see a camp with torn tents and only a few cabins so far. As they walk around the camp, they can hear the chant, "No meat, no meat." This is punctuated by the simulated hoot of the owl and the "Caw, caw" of the crow. They walk over to where General Anthony Wayne is supervising the building of huts.
why are not more men working here?
Only men with sufficient clothing can work outside.
The rest are practically naked, sir.
They are worse off than Falstaff's recruits,
for they have not one whole shirt to a Brigade.
The sick are dying of the cold, sir.
The first huts are supposed to be for hospitals.
Yes, but they are very overcrowded,
and there is no medicine, not even for the itch.
Many of the horses have died already.
The dead horses and offal are to buried or removed.
INT. GATES' HEADQUARTERS AT YORKTOWN - DAY
GENERAL HORATIO GATES is presiding over a luxurious dinner attended by Generals Lafayette, Conway, Wilkinson, Mifflin, and others. They are drinking toasts after which they all shout "Hoorah" except for Lafayette who drinks the toast but does not shout.
Here is to General Horatio Gates,
President of the new Board of War!
May he lead us on to victory!
To Major General Conway,
our new Inspector General of the Army!
To Major General Mifflin,
also a member of the new Board of War.
To General Wilkinson,
recently made a Brigadier General for bringing
the glorious news of General Gates' triumph
over Burgoyne at Saratoga to the Congress.
And here is to Major General Lafayette
and his command of our irruption into Canada
where he will lead two thousand five hundred men
to victory at Montreal.
You are optimistic, sir.
General Stark will assist you, Marquis.
Indeed, General Stark will have burnt the fleet
before your arrival.
My dear Lafayette,
would you care to offer a toast?
Yes, I believe that one toast has been omitted.
To General George Washington,
the Commander-in-Chief of the American Armies.
Instead of shouting "Hoorah!" the others coldly look at each other and drink somberly.
EXT. VALLEY FORGE CAMP - RAINY DAY
The camp huts have been built, but everything is very wet from the rain. Two American soldiers greet each other in the usual way.
VALLEY FORGE SOLDIER #1
Good morning, brother soldier, how are you?
VALLEY FORGE SOLDIER #2
All wet, thank'e; hope you are so.
Are you surviving on the half rations?
VALLEY FORGE SOLDIER #1
Surviving? Perhaps I may survive.
INT. WASHINGTON'S VALLEY FORGE HEADQUARTERS - RAINY DAY
Washington is talking with his Adjutant General Scammell.
Sir, some officers are arranging a dinner,
but they will admit no one
who has a whole pair of breeches.
At least they are able to jest about it.
Fortunately, or should I say unfortunately,
that probably will not exclude anyone.
Is the steady flow of resignations diminishing then?
The horses are in such bad shape,
it is getting harder for them to depart,
even if they steal them;
for they can go only a short distance
before the horse collapses and dies.
Will this miserable rain ever stop?
We could make a wager whether it will stop
before all this quarreling of Conway and Gates.
That galls me more than my bad teeth.
Nine Brigadiers sent a memorial to Congress
complaining that Conway was promoted before them.
I warned Congress about that.
They have a good point,
and they are matched by the Colonels
objecting that Wilkinson was advanced over them.
All he did was carry news
of Gates' victory to Congress.
Yes, but it took him so long to get there
that when Congress awarded him a sword,
one wag suggested that it should have been spurs.
I got another letter from General Gates.
Now he denies the Conway statement was ever made.
He insinuates that my aide, Alexander Hamilton,
spied on him when he was visiting Albany for me.
But he never encloses any copies of the letters
to show they do not contain such remarks.
If Conway's letter was so harmless,
why has he not made it public?
He regrets that I wrote to Congress that
General Conway would prove to be an incendiary.
Tell me, am I not correct?
Yes, sir, you have been more than patient.
EXT. VALLEY FORGE CAMP - COLD DAY
Washington and Hamilton are walking through the camp. They can hear the men chanting from the cabins, "No pay, no clothes, no provisions, no rum" over and over again.
A week without meat.
I cannot blame them.
No teams could reach the camp during the last storm.
Do you think the men are near mutiny?
Actually the number of desertions is going down.
Those who have stayed are the loyal ones.
Out of a cabin comes a soldier wrapped only in a blanket. He quickly dashes into another cabin.
Did you see that man go by there?
He appeared to be naked under that blanket.
If only the other states would send clothing
as Connecticut did for their soldiers.
What is the matter with the people?
The prices of goods have gone very high.
Yes, the war profiteering is unconscionable.
We are re-issuing the clothing of the dead,
and they cut up the canvas from the tents.
These men, we owe them so much.
How did your colleague John Laurens phrase it?
He wrote about "those dear, ragged Continentals
whose patience will be the admiration of future ages."
General Greene reports some respectful petitioners
came before their superior officers
as if they were asking for special favors
and said they could not stay in camp
any longer without support.
Some of the detachments I sent out for cattle
should be returning to camp soon.
I think I will suggest that Nathanael Greene
be appointed as Quartermaster General.
Certainly General Mifflin has been too busy
with the Conway cabal to attend to his duties.
I have written General Gates another letter.
I believe he has been a tool of dangerous men,
but I hope this factionalism will soon end.
I cannot stand it much longer.
INT. WASHINGTON'S HEADQUARTERS AT VALLEY FORGE - DAY
Washington is talking with Hamilton and Lafayette.
So your Canadian irruption never came off.
No, mon General.
Invading Canada in winter was not a wise plan.
It was brilliant of you to put
General Conway under General De Kalb at Albany
so that he could experience what it is like
to be under an officer prematurely promoted.
It was right in character for Conway
to write a letter to Congress threatening to resign.
Yes, and Congress has accepted his resignation.
Now he is saying he did not intend to resign,
and has demanded that I give him a division.
That impertinent letter I shall ignore.
I hope that is the last we hear of General Conway.
How is Baron von Steuben doing training the troops?
Excellent, now that he has a translator
to explain his cursing in three languages.
I like that officer; he knows discipline,
and that is what we need now that spring is here
and enough shoes are starting to arrive.
Yes, the bartering of hides for shoes is going well.
The British are passing reconciliation bills.
Yes, but they are a long way from recognizing us,
and nothing short of independence can possibly do.
Colonel Hamilton, I want you to invite
Generals Gates and Mifflin to a war council
now that Sir Henry Clinton
has replaced General Howe.
I suspect that remaining on the defensive
is probably our best strategy,
but I want written reports from the Major Generals
giving their best suggestions.
What do you think of our plan
to capture General Clinton in New York?
He seems vulnerable there to whale-boats,
and I think it is practicable and most desirable
and honorable to take him prisoner,
as they took Charles Lee, who we finally got back.
I do not doubt that the plan would succeed,
but sir, have you examined the consequences of it?
In what respect?
Why, we shall rather lose than gain by removing
Sir Henry from the command of the British Army,
because we perfectly understand his character;
and by taking him off
we only make way for some other,
perhaps an abler officer,
whose character and dispositions we have to learn.
I had not thought of that.
I think you may be right.
Clinton has offered
to exchange 790 American prisoners
at present in the city of Philadelphia.
How are the negotiations you are heading going?
Colonel Scammell barges into the room with a message.
Sir, General Washington!
What is it, Colonel Scammell, that is so important?
France has recognized the United States of America
as an independent nation.
By God, we are saved!
That means France will be at war with England,
and we have an ally at last.
Lafayette shakes Washington's hand, and they all hug and pat each other on the back in celebration.
Congratulations, mon General!
Thank you and thank France!
--end of the sixth episode in a series on GEORGE WASHINGTON--
This screenplay has been published in the book GEORGE WASHINGTON: A Dramatic Series. For ordering information, please click here.
A War Breaks Out
General Braddock's Defeat
Fight for Independence
Maintaining an Army
On to Victory