tv Maryland Soldiers in the Revolutionary War CSPAN May 14, 2016 2:55pm-4:01pm EDT
changed the course of the revolution. freedsoldiers, including african-americans, played a key role in several of the war fell most important battles, fighting through an eight-year priod in conditionsn harsh and often without being paid. the heritage foundation hosted this hour-long event. >> fewer bus and have experienced mortal combat. the few of us who have have novels, andy notes, for the greatest generation, stephen ambrose brought to life easy company ring world war ii and his book "band of brothers." our guest today, patrick o'donnell, reflects on another band of brothers, no less tried by battle, and certainly one for
the survival of our nation's freedom. his book "washington's in -- "immortals the first regiment of the american revolutionary war, immortalized as the maryland 400. we relive their actions, not only at the battle of brooklyn, but subsequent battles for independence, key to the ultimate establishment of the united states of america. a best selling military historian, mr. o'donnell has authored 10 books, including "beyond valor," "dog company," and "first fields." he speaks often on espionage,
special operations, and counterinsurgency. it is a pleasure to welcome in as we look at this historic perspective on the founding of our nation. patrick? patrick: thank you. thank you. it is a pleasure and an honor to be here today. for me, the journey to mmortals"on's i began years ago when the commander of the first battalion was in new york as a liaison officer for the council of foreign relations, and he asked me what i wanted to do that day, if i wanted to go to the mat. i said, no, sir, i said i would like to take you on a battleground tour of brooklyn. i maintained my friendships with all of the marines i was within the battle of falluja in 2004. it provided a lasting memory for me.
it's your to my mind. i went house to house. i recorded their story. iraq, i pulled a marine who had half of his face taken off by ebola out of a firefight -- these are lasting memories that allowed me to write this book. it also created a bond of friendship that has lasted a lifetime for me. when he asked me what i wanted to do, to take him to the battle of brooklyn -- the battle of brooklyn is the largest battle and the american revolution, and interestingly enough, it begins in a watermelon patch. greenwoodside cemetery. something called the redline and in. lion inn. it had a watermelon patch in the backyard.
people would, in -- it was a britishattraction -- pickets found the watermelons firefight, which began the largest battle of the american revolution, which was unfolding. the colonel and i went to the gates of greenwood cemetery, where the red lion inn once stood, and we started to walk the hills there. it's an amazing cemetery. it is one of the great cemeteries in america where there's not only saw the most famous people in new york city buried, but also the place of an american revolution battle -- nation hung in the balance there. we went through the alleys of oakland and we found an old stone house. -- we went through the alleys of brooklyn and we found an old stone house. that house is on the cover of "washington's immortals."
the united states was saved at that point. what i mean by that, there were about 400 ameren drillers -- marylanders who held off the british army commanded by general lord cornwallis. they made a series of bayonet charges that allowed a large portion of the army that had been on greenwood cemetery and around it to escape back to the forts in brooklyn heights. and, i was struck by the significance of this place in the fact that not much had been written about it. then we walked a little bit further down the alleys of brooklyn, and i found a rusted old sign that said, here life 256 continental soldiers, maryland heroes. they are buried somewhere in brooklyn under a street or empty lots. i was struck, how is it possible that americans that saved the united states are buried in an mt lot?
-- an empty lot. i looked at that sign and i wanted to know the story behind the story. i spent six years re-creating that story and washington's immortals. it begins on a wintry day in 1774 in baltimore city, where men of honor, family, and fortune came together, they risked their lives to form the first independent company, called the baltimore independent cadets. these are men of wealth. they were prominent merchants. the main person in this group was a sea captain and extremely wealthy man. they signed a contract that put their lives in danger. they put their fortunes in danger, and they also took their careers, their livelihood, and basically put them on hold to fight the war. they were tired of being told by the crown that was 3000 miles away how to run their
businesses. they were afraid of tyranny. they were tired of being told what to do. they loved liberty and freedom. it was this spirit that formed in this small tavern that creates some of the greatest fighting regiments of the american revolution. the men of honor, family, and fortune were a unique group. they put not only their money on the line, but they decided to invest in the best weapons and equipment that money could buy. they trained themselves. they caught the attention of the city of baltimore, which i spent many years going through thousands of pages of documents, original documents, that in most cases had never been published. i remember a letter that really resonated with me. it was signed by an anonymous
source. it was an anonymous source. the men had captured the attention of the city in 1775. they said -- the letter said that they would undergo an amazing test, that they would be part of an american -- that they would be spartans that would have to face down tens of thousands of troops. this is a prophetic letter that occurs one year before the battle of brooklyn, which is an amazing thing. somebody had predicted that this was what they would face. moving forward, the small company of men who were called initially the baltimore cadets, becomes a cadre of the greatest fighting regiments of the american revolution. it first become something called smallwood's battalion and
eventually becomes a first maryland regiment and it splits up into multiple other regiments. this book is not a dry reciting of the american revolution. it's a live history of what these men went through. much of it is in their own words. it puts you there. as smallwood's battalion trains, they undergo some of their first tests. they defend baltimore against a potential raid from british forces, and ultimately they are called to arms to rally around new york city. the british launch one of the largest invasions in the history at that time, where they invade first staten island and they attempt to invade new york city by landing first in long island.
the british invade first, staten island, and then attempt to invade new york city by lending first in long island. these men are sent as reinforcements. their initial headquarters is near this stonehouse. on the night of august 27, their first real combat begins. the most desperate days of many of the lives of these men. they are called to arms. they wake up in the dead of night. they marched towards greenwood certainly, in and around the cemetery. they set up an order of battle. they face down the british, who have a demonstration force. a massive flanking maneuver goes around their position. these men held off the british for several hours. they come to the realization that they are surrounded. these men are sent as reinforcements. their initial headquarters is near this stonehouse. on the night of august 27, their first real combat begins. they have to fight their way back to the stone house. that is an epic story in and of itself. as they make their way to the
stonehouse, they early only thing that is allowing potentially hundreds, if not over thousands of american troops from being captured and killed. they launched a series of desperate charges on this position that cornwallis has in the stonehouse. there are several canon in the house. -- cannon. they have to withstand as they march and charge towards that house. many of their numbers are lost. they close ranks of the dead bodies of their fellow countrymen and continue to charge. they allow an opening in the british lines, which allows fellow americans to escape across. many of these men, up to 256 potential he, the numbers are not exactly certain, were captured or perished that date. many survived also to fight another day.
it is the marylanders that make this epic stand, we see the inflection points of the american revolution. the most important battles. they are then, even with depleted numbers, washington relies upon them to be the rearguard. one of the greatest escapes in military history occurs a couple days later. john glover and the marblehead men evacuate the british army back into manhattan. the marylanders are blessed men to stand in the -- are the last men to stand in the in. they are nearly left behind. about 2 weeks later, the british land in manhattan. it is the marylanders that are standing while many other americans are fleeing the battlefield. it's a please near central park that the marylanders make another epic stand.
they allow the army to escape to harlem heights. they are involved in the first victory against british troops in 1776 at the bottom of harlem heights. they continue to fight through the campaign in new york city. there's a group of marylanders in fort washington. that is one of the great forgotten stories of the american revolution. we had about 3000 americans bottled up in a fort about a mile and a half long. if you know where the base of the george washington bridge is, on the manhattan side, this is a massive fort.
it was a mostly lord of the rings in a sense. it was written, sharpened --birthday -- earthen, sharpened logs. something that occurs over and over in the american revolution. this book is also about the first civil war. the never wonders in this book -- the marylanders in this book had divided loyalties. many had to betray their own fathers to fight for the cause. in for washington, the adjective --adjutant fled the fort with the plans in the order of battle and gave it to the british. the men inside the fort were in serious jeopardy. when they attacked, the marylanders helped hold off many assaults. a kernel that we meet in trenton reaches the defenses at fort washington. it is an incredible tragedy that occurs. thousands of americans are captured, many executed by the unit -- by bayonet. they are unrestrained for a while until british officers come in.
it is here that i see the stories of washington's immortals come to life. i use thousands of pension files to write this book. what i mean by that, if you were lucky enough to survive the american revolution, you could go to the local courthouse and swear under what you did. it's here that the humanity of this book -- i wanted to capture the hidden war of the american revolution. the feelings and emotions. one of my favorite pension applications is from maryland or lawrence everhart, probably the luckiest man in the revolution in some ways. he was able to escort -- to escape fort washington by rowboat. he was able to escape the hudson
river while many of his men perished. after he makes his way across the hudson to fort lee, he finds general washington. it is an amazing scene. washington is witnessing the fall of fort washington through a spyglass. pcs that many of his men -- he sees that many of his men are bayonetted. hundreds of hessians, being german allies that fought for great britain, and british soldiers lined up and made their men run through a gauntlet as they were beaten and kicked and robbed. he sees this through his spyglass. everhart remarks that he saw tears in washington's eyes. this is the book that i wanted to convey. washington's immortals captures that hidden war of feelings and emotions.
is not just old men in the amber of oil paintings. it's a life, boots on the ground stories. the first band of brothers history of the american revolution. from fort washington, the marylanders are in the rearguard as it retreats through the jerseys. the marylanders and delaware blues. the delaware blues are sort of the brother regiment that fights side-by-side with the marylanders through his most epic campaigns. they are constantly in the rear. they are hoping obstruct, holding key bridges, obstructing the passage of british troops. washington is heading towards the delaware, where there is the safety of the river, but also a friendly population. within the maryland line, you have divided loyalties. within america, you have a civil war within their many loyalists. many parts of new jersey were loyal to the crown. washington has to move his
supply base a friendly area. it is here that the stories and letters come out. the book has many notable figures, including james feel, an ensign. that is a low ranking officer, but he often carried the flag. james is the brother of charles wilson peel. i will never forget the story i him across -- the men are fleeing towards the delaware. the sight that charles sees of the men in the army. the army at this time is reduced to rags. these men are barefoot. in eight years of work, many of these men were never properly clothed.
they never had shoes. most of these men were never paid. he sees a figure that has sores delivered his face. he has rags on his person. he sees this man part of a long line of patriots is given towards the delaware, which is lit up with massive bonfires. sort of this scene from hell. he notices it's his brother. he doesn't even realize it at the time until he sees his face so close up. this is the state of easement -- all of these men, which starts 1000 strong. they are reduced to about hundred 50 marylanders at this point. for they stay together. through this entire eight years
of war, the men of the maryland line always stuck together. they were the bedrock that washington would rely upon. when the army was destroyed, they would rebuild it around the marylanders. they would make it across the river, then it is desperate times. some of the darkest days of america. the winter of 1776, the enlistments of these men are running out. many marylanders stay behind, even though they don't have to be there. the army is falling apart. washington has to use his greatest oratory skills to basically tell men, if you give me another month, it will be a time of service to your country that you can do in no other time. men stay. and he launches an audacious counterattack. the post at trenton, manned by the hero of white plains and fort washington, keys manning -- is manning an outpost. the hessians were drunk on christmas. it was not the case.
these were reversible soldiers that were highly trained. they were on constant alert. these men slept in their clothes. they had their bayonets and muskets by their side. they had been raided multiple times by the local militia, as well as the continental army. they were on high alert. it's during a nor'easter on christmas day that washington crosses the delaware along with the marylanders. they are part of the 10 crucial days in american history where these battles are so precious to our country's liberty that what i found amazing -- i traced the root of the battles of trenton.
i'm struck by the crossing of the delaware. they make their way to a high grant in delaware. it's there that henry knox, this rotund bookseller from boston, they start the fire upon johan's men. what is striking is that that spot is an empty junk. there are no markers, nothing. they fire upon them. it's one of the great epic victories in american history. they are able to defeat johan, who's killed and buried in trenton. it is an incredible victory. they rode crossed the delaware. it is a bit of a drunken crews in many ways. they find barrels of rum. washington tried to stop it. they hardly drank. some men fell off the boats as they crossed the delaware.
there were casualties from that. it looks like a complete and utter victory. a local militiamen from the philadelphia -- they cross a day after christmas. they were part of the initial assault. the river was so ice-chunked, they could not make it. washington has a dilemma. do i leave john cap water with -- washington decides to reinforce. that sets up the most forgotten battle. it is called the second battle of trenton.
here washington does not set up inside the city. he sets up on the eastern side of assateague creek, in a line of battles that stretches nearly 2 miles long. cornwallis, who is a brilliant general, very much a hero with general. in this book i capture not only the marylanders stories but also the british officers, many enlisted men, many hessians also in their accounts. he launches a counterattack immediately on washington. washington is prepared. he is set up behind the creek. there is one main crossing point, stonebridge built in 1774. that has to be held at all
costs. it is an epic story of 3 bayonet charges that were launched against that bridge. and we held. we held at all costs. had we not held, the center of washington's line would have been potentially cracked open. it could have meant the loss of a significant portion of the american army that day. the delaware blues and marylanders and virginians and others held that bridge against all odds. bodies stacked up as the british continued to charge. blood was literally on the stones of that bridge. when i found fascinating is that the fabric -- there are potentially original stones from that bridge still to this day. tragically, there is nothing marking it. something i hope to accomplish with "washington's immortals" his to bring awareness to these sites and to our heritage. this book is about the founding
of america. this is about who we are as americans in the darkest days of the american revolution. the book continues, where washington has to decide, does he retreat against the delaware? this is peerless at this point. --perilous at this point. or does he do something novel? he attacks princeton. it is an incredible story of our commander-in-chief in battle. this is 18th-century warfare. the principal general of regiments fought in the front. washington rallies the troops as they are initially starting to break. it is an epic story. washington is on his horse, and he says, parade with me, there are only a few of them.
he leads the counter attack. they break the british regiment at princeton. initially the plan was to go to new brunswick, where there's a massive war chest of 70,000 pounds. which, at the time, was an enormous fortune. the men were so tired from any days of being up and marching that it was impossible. washington marches off into high ground and fortifies for the winter. it's just the beginning of this epic saga. this book also covers not only the for the computer of operations, -- the northern theater of operations, but also the southern. the marylanders and delaware blues were one of the few minutes in the army that fought in both areas. the marylanders were crucial. they -- as the war goes on, there is a great deal of trauma.
there is hyperinflation. economically, the american economy is devastated. the continental is worthless. the men captured in the book, there is a needs that occurs =-- a mutiny that occurs that needs to be brought down. america is wavering once again in 1780. the war is stalemated in the north. the british decide to go south, where there are many loyalists in the carolinas. they first have great success at charleston, where the capture thousands of americans.
the marylanders are set down to reinforce the american army and charleston. they are led by a small unit of baltimore cadets. it blossoms into a full division with several regiments. it is commanded by the great hero, a foreigner. he is remarkable, kind of the schwarzenegger of his day. he is in his late 50's, but he marches alongside men. most of the time he refuses to ride. he only eats some coffee, and for lunch, he has a bit of a sandwich. very little to eat. and he is spartan. he commands respect of his fellow marylanders. they are involved with general ratio dates --general horatio gates, who had been given way more credit than he deserved at the battle of saratoga.
gates decides he will confront cornwallis at camden. it's the summer of 1780 that the two armies face-off, with the marylanders and delaware blues being the linchpin that holds the southern army together. this is the backbone. these are the men there overtime. the militia comes and goes. at camden, cornwallis, who is outnumbered, practically destroys the american army. is an amazing story. it is a story that has been underreported in many ways. one reason is because it is an american defeat.
it's after the destruction at camden that we see the heroics of men like john howard. it is a most a region of what happens at brooklyn. -- redo of what happens at brooklyn. to flea the british army. they are fleeing for their lives. is the kernel -- the colonel of the american army. one of the great epic stories occurs in february, where he-- the flying army, under the command of daniel morgan. one of the most powerful figures. incredible heroes like daniel morgan, has to come up with a way to defeat banister charleston.
earlier in the war, he captures an american general along with his commanding officer. he commends an element of cornwallis' army. daniel morgan is up against a lot of challenges. he has to organize what he has at his disposal. he has this incredibly tough marylanders. he has been delaware blues. as well as other continentals. most of the men come and go.
dale morgan --daniel morgan at calkins -- at cowpens. one of the true innovations of the american revolution. instead of putting his men in a standard life of battle, he organizes defense and death. he puts his most inexperienced men up front. there are a few sharpshooters before that. then the marylanders are hidding behind a hill. the plan is for the men in the front to fire a couple shots, fire at the officers, then retreat through a hole in the marylanders' line.
everything starts to go perfectly well. the british come full on. they see the militia, the militia does their job. they fire their shots. they pull through the front lien. it looks like a classic route with the british. this is a repeat of camden. as they move back, they see the marylanders. they drop many british soldiers. the british, john howard, this heroic figure.
he is a psion in baltimore. he raises the company of men in 24 hours. that's how much charisma he has. he is a brilliant and that under stands the smallest tax in the smallest details. he orders is misunderstood by a virginia to retreat. the men show their backs towards the british. it becomes another camden. the british then attack with full force. but what happens next is the militia rally. and they encircle the men, along with the horse of william washington. it is a great american victory. the book, i can go through each one of these southern battles. it is a band of brothers on the american revolution.
what i mean by that is it focuses on the key officers in the maryland line. the first person i'd like to talk about is nathaniel nick ramsay, who is a lawyer from cecil county, maryland. ramsay is also a politician. he is one of the older men in the maryland line. ramsay is an ardent patriot. he volunteers. he is there from the beginning. he barely escapes with his life at the battle of brooklyn. he is over six feet tall. in the water in the mill pond, many cannot swim. but he is tall enough that he can walk through and help other men escape. ramsay fights through the key battles in the north.
what is fascinating about ramsay is this is replete. -- mrs. ramsay. jenny ramsay, they are extremely wealthy individuals. she accompanies her husband as she marches with the army. the book covers cap followers. mrs. ramsay followed her husband out of love and devotion. mrs. ramsey was the epicenter for social life for the maryland line. whenever she set up camp, the officers in the maryland line would coalesce around your campfire. -- around her campfire. they would discuss what happened. in many ways she plays an for
important role in that aspect. nathaniel ramsay continues to fight through the key battles of the american revolution with the marylanders. monmouth is fear freehold new jersey -- is near freehold, new jersey. the british army at this point is evacuating philadelphia. they don't have enough troops. the book gets into the global war that the american revolution becomes part of. there are not enough troops to hold new york and philadelphia. the british decide to abandon philadelphia. washington has a decision to make. to z attack, or does he let -- does he attack, or does he let the british go? he decides on a bit of both.
he creates a core to strike at the british army as they make their way towards ships. they have to march through new jersey to accomplish that. he decides to put charles lee, who has captured by banister charleston. the british troops are put in the rear of this long winding train of british soldiers. the best british troops are put in the back because they anticipate something like this. lee a tax and is nearly -- lee
attacks as nearly routed by these troops. it is here that washington confronts lee. it's an amazing story of washington, who is a stoic figure that is unflappable. lafayette reports that the leaves on the trees actually shook because washington swore so much. [laughter] it is here that nathaniel ramsay has his finest hour. he is nearby washington and requests that ramsay and his regiment hold back the british one of so that washington can
bring up the main army. it's an epic stand again. the marylanders charge into the vortex of battle. in a microcosm of the battle, ramsay is confronted by his counterpart, a british officer. they cross swords. the british officer on horses ram -- officer unhorses ramsay and is about to execute him. and ramsey shows his masonic ring, according to legend, and to that grandson qua ---- and that grants him quarter. i am not a freemason historian. is not something i will necessarily cover. but when you go through the multiple records and find there are summons to attend large meetings. many in the maryland line or some of the most powerful freemasons in america. mrs. ramsay follows her husband.
they are captured. mr. ramsay is paroled. this is not treatment that average pows received. if you were an enlisted man that had no money, you would typically be put on a prison ship in new york harbor. the number of casualties were enormous. our men were starved to death on floating concentration camps. the number is anywhere between 10 and 18,000 americans died on
these rotting hulks. the ramsays were lucky. they were able to purchase a home in new york city and lived out the war. it's sort of this band of brothers. many men in the maryland line that are deep friends because of battle, and they are also tied by family. another person linked in with this deep friendship to the ramsays was samuel smith. samuel smith was one of the great regimental commanders of the work. smith was one of the original baltimore cadets in 1774. he was the original surgeon of arms. --sergeant of arms.
smith was close friends with many of the men, the court cadre of -- the core cadre of officers. smith is a merchant. his father did a lot of trade in europe. it's interesting the relationships he formed. as he traveled back and forth to europe before the war, he met ace british -- he met a bridge spymaster. -- a british spymaster. it is smith that survives long island. he is heroic in that he finds a log and transports men across the mill pond. before the battle of planes -- of white plains, a river separated the two armies. smith attempted to contact andre across the river.
he was unsuccessful just to say hello. it is fascinating how these men on both sides interact. smith's finest hour is at a place called mount island. it's near present-day philadelphia. mud island was the most important for of america in 1778. our stand on that fort prevented the british from resupplying philadelphia by river. the fort had held out for weeks. smith was in charge of the garrison at this fort. it's an incredible story of dueling artillery. one of my favored accounts is from a cannon within the fort
that shot a 12 pound ball 500 yards that landed into a british 24 pound cannon, directly into the barrel. [laughter] the luckiest shot of the american revolution. interestingly enough, two british ships were destroyed attacking the fort. and smith was a man of action. the fort was being surrounded by ernest artillery. -- british artillery. smith, in the dead of night, organized an amphibious landing to take out the guns. smith led his men in battle. quite an interesting story. they surround the men with guns. many of the gunners eventually surrender, but the officers don't. smith then put a gun to the head of some of these officers and said, you will surrender, and
they did. this is a man of action. he wasn't waiting for somebody else to do it. the british artillery finally got the best of samuel smith. he was gravely wounded during the assault on the fort. eventually the patriots realized that the fort can no longer be held in the evacuated. smith is greeted before he is wounded by one of his best friends, who essentially one of his mortal enemies. jack stuart was initially -- he initially dueled samuel smith. they were mortal enemies, but after, they obviously did not fire upon each other. they survived and begin closest of friends. samuel smith is greeted by jack stuart. stuart is an incredible figure. he is a very tall individual, muscular, sort of fiery.
stuart's motto is you only live once. he's extremely reckless and daring. he tries to support the battle of long island. stuart is also involved in a court-martial in manhattan. he has reprimanded for striking an american soldier that was fleeing. eventually both men were slapped on the wrist. stuart continues to fight. he's involved in the key panels up until the forgotten raid on staten island.
th marylanderse are involved. stuart is captured. unfortunately he does not have money on him. he's not going to imagine being new york city -- going to a mansion in new york city, but is put on one of these hell ships. he somehow escapes and get back to american lines. it is suspected that smith may have provided money for his escape. jack fights through the war in all the key battles. guilford courthouse in the south. the marylanders, their story comes full circle. there are several regiments that eventually face cornwallis.
the man that nearly annihilated them at brooklyn and yorktown. stuart fights through the south and is close friends with william washington. he is paroled and meets his wife in charleston. the war is over, and it stuart and washington are tending william washington's wedding. it's here that jack is riding towards the wedding and falls off his horse and breaks his
the man that only lives once is killed in a tragic accident. hte last person i will briefly talk about -- the book is not only about rich men that are white, it is an integrated unit. 7-9% were free african-americans. one of my great characters is private thomas carty, a forgotten hero of the revolution. he was a free black man that believed in liberty and fought for over 7 years of war. he first joins the marylanders at brandywine, then fights through the epic battle. the battle of guilford courthouse, where it changes the course of the revolution, kearny is noted to have bayoneted 7 british soldiers. an incredibly heroic figure. his finest hour is at a place called 96.
this book covers all the major battles. 96 is a british outpost on the south carolina and georgia border. here is one of the great sieges of the revolution. nathanael greene, who has the marylanders, surrounds a star shaped fort meade of birth. -- fort made of earth. to try to start out the loyalists inside. they find out they will be resupplied and reinforced. greene and the marylanders have to make a decision. do they let 96 go, or make one last attack?
they built a tunnel underneath the fort they were going to blow up. they had something called a mayhem tower. an incredible bit of american ingenuity. they built a massive log tower that would overlook the fort. american riflemen could fire down into the fort itself. the loyalists were smart enough to put sandbags to prevent the american fire from reaching them. nothing was working. so they launched something known as a forlorn hope. the marylanders are in so many during the horror. it's called that because the chance of survival of the assault troops leading it is very small. the men have to cut through, effectively sharpened logs that surround the fort. this is 18th-century razor wire. you could be impaled by those logs. the front rows of the forlorn hope included thomas carney, who
is armed with only an ax. things don't go well during the assault. carney and his men are pinned down by the fire from the loyalists. it is going incredibly poorly. perry benson is shot in the head. thomas carney takes his commanding officer up and carries him off the battlefield. and what it does is creates a lasting friendship. a bond of friendship that lasts a lifetime. these men after the war come together and stay together. it's suspected that they met lafayette when he returns to america. this is a book about brotherhood
and friendship. i wrote "washington's immortals" to find out the mystery. to understand who these men are. it is about who we are as americans. that is why i believe it is time to find the men of honor, family, and fortune. thank you. [applause] >> we have time for a few questions. wait for the mic and be kindly enough to say your name. >> first, i commend you writing this book. it is refreshing to hear a book about valor, not the demolishing. -- not victimology. the question i've always wondered, why did the americans fight?
1/3 are loyalists, 1/3rd could care less. government from britain wasn't nearly as oppressive as governments today. these women that had a great deal to lose. of what is your take on why they fought? mr. o'donnell: it is a mixed answer. in this group alone, these men sacrificed their entire fortunes for the cause. many of these men went bankrupt after the war. after the american revolution, there were bankruptcy prisons. these men went into it. strikingly, they supplied and weapons for their own men. they were not reimbursed. they believed ardently, against all odds, in what they were doing.
they believed in liberty. many of them were schooled in the classics. they believed in fighting tyranny. there were others. as you mentioned, this is a nuanced war. it was not a situation where everyone believed in the same thing. it covers the civil war. many americans were not only fighting the most adaptable army in the world, but also fighting fellow americans. it's the core group that believed in what they were doing. much because they did not want to be told what to do. they do not want beer cuts dictate --want bureaucrats dictate who they could trade with. they wanted freedom in commerce and freedom in their lives. mordecai tamed his -- named his sons "state's rights" and "independence." [laughter]
>> what caused cornwallis to surrender? mr. o'donnell: a lot of factors. the biggest is that -- they did an inventory of how many cannonballs cornwallis' army had after the siege. he was nearly out. he was not reinforced. they were pressing in. the american army, along with our french allies, conducted the siege at yorktown. the heavy artillery moved with the siege lines and they were selling cornwallis' army. it was basically, without ships, there was the escape. -- there was no escape.
>> you spoke earlier about the lack of memorials to this unit. are there any memorials in the state of maryland for this unit? mr. o'donnell: there are. there is a beautiful statue of john howard in baltimore city. in my opinion, no there are not enough. what i hope to do with "washington's immortals" is get average americans interested in the american revolution. this is who we are, our most important conflict. our most important founders. this book is resonating. it's already in its fourth
reprint. it's my hope that it continues to resonate. americans look back into their own family histories as to who they are. >> which your website allowed itself to cementing donations? --submitting donations? mr. o'donnell: i will point you in the right direction. it will be through the website, through the civil war trust fund. the civil war trust fund has something called campaign 1776. they are dedicating resources and manpower to preserving the outfields of the american revolution. in particular, the great outfields of the south. that is a noble effort. they have the resources, the lawyers, they know how to do this right. i encourage anyone to look up campaign 1776.
>> one more down front. >> what more is known about the soldiers religiously? were many roman catholic? is there anything more known about their masonic influence? when they were summoned to these meetings, that is a secretive group -- but do you know more about that influence? mr. o'donnell: it was an underpinning. many are roman catholics because they are from maryland. maryland is divided geographically. the eastern shore was largely protestant. you would have mixed religious elements within the maryland line. the freemasonry influence is extremely heavy in the top leadership.
it grows after the war, where the men are very much there. these men follow the role of their commander-in-chief. they hang up their swords after the war. they return to normal life. the example here that is so powerful, washington could have been a dictator. but he recognized that power corrupts. he went back to farming and ultimately becomes president. these men found the society of cincinnati. the oldest future -- oldest patriotic organization in america. i will speak there in may. king george sees this, and finds out that washington is resigning. the book ends in the maryland statehouse, where most of the congress assembled. washington gives his resignation
speech. he resigns and becomes a planter again. king george, the brutal ever three goes, that is most powerful man in the world. [applause] >> thank you. we have copies of "washington's immortals." patrick will be happy to sign them and talk further. it is interesting to know why maryland is the old line state. thank you for your kind attention. we hope you'll join us in the future.
>> you're watching american history tv only condone c-span3. on facebook at c-span history. >> madam secretary, rape only gift of a data of our delegates to the next president of the -- we proudly give our delegates to the next president of the united states. >> next on history bookshelf, the author david frisk talks