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21 December 2020


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Alba Etie

And by accounts I have read the Hessians not only were all sober but, fully armed , well supplied , and well led . If the Continental Army troopers were leaving bloody prints in the snow that must mean that they were fighting on with severe frost bite yes ?


If I recall the painting was made in Germany and shown as part of a fundraiser for Civil War casualties and their families in NYC. I think it is now in the Museum of Fine Art in NY.


An Army that was not risk averse, an Army that was not pretty nor their troopers perfect, but by God when you put them in the field they got the job done and overcame obstacles. I still remember a Wire Dog who was in my Headquarters Company--he was a lousy garrison soldier--he liked loose weapons and booze but in the field there was no job he did not accomplish. One night he laid five miles of WD1 wire across a swamp at Fort Stewart Georgia, without a break, and comms were up and ready when the Commander moved to the location the wire was run to.

Today I am not sure you could do that without at least an Officer and a Platoon Sergeant to supervise. Of course the soldier would have to wear a reflective belt so he could be seen at night etc etc. Unfortunately for the Army Soldiers like that are not longer welcomed.


Not so sure of the origin but the painting is (or was the last time I was in New Hope) on display at the museum at Washington's Crossing, PA. It's huge, like a tapestry.

I appreciate the 'FIDO' reference. Been years since I heard that.

Andy Mink

The painting was done by Emanuel Leutze in 1849-51, in 2 versions, one went to the US, one got burned in his studio in Düsseldorf and staid in Germany, where it was later burned for good by Britsh bombs in Bremen in 1943 or so. Leutze emigrated with his parents to Philadelphia as a kid, returned to study in Düsseldorf. He was a ardent Democrat and believer in the failed revolution of 1848 in Europe and came back to the US around 1859.

The painting is an expression of his idealized admiration of the US as the land of liberty (see the black man in the boat). The Delaware here is actually modeled on the Rhine at Düsseldorf, ie the actual crossing is much narrower (I went to look at it). I love the painting, it´s now again at the Met after a long restoration and is just stunning and huge (we know the people who did it, they found some interesting "new" details after cleaning it up). The Met did a small publication on the painting that is definitely worth finding out. They describe who the people in GW´s boat are and point out the "historic mistakes" (they actually used flat bottomed boats, etc).

But weren´t the bloody footprints in the snow part of Valley Forge??

At the crossing on the Jersey side one can still see the beginning of the wooded path the Continental Army took to Trenton.

Andy Mink


I think the quote at the end came from George Orwell, not Churchill.

The Twisted Genius

Orwell was probably the originator of the sentiment if not the exact words. Churchill was, no doubt, paraphrasing Orwell's writings. A lot of people have used the quote since then.

The Twisted Genius

The full story of this painting is quite interesting. As for the bloody footprints, I'm sure they were at Forge as well... and probably many other places. Once hypothermia sets in, you start feeling warm and become oblivious to pain. I know that from experience.

The Twisted Genius

A historically more accurate depiction of the crossing was done by Mort Kunstler. It's impressive in its own right.


David Habakkuk

The origins of the quote seem unclear.

Apparently Orwell never said it. However, in ‘Notes on Nationalism’, written in 1945, he lists five types of nationalist, appending in each case ‘a fact which it is impossible for that type of nationalist to accept, even in his secret thoughts.’ In the case of the ‘pacifist’, the fact is that: ‘Those who “abjure” violence can only do so because others are committing violence on their behalf.’

(See http://www.george-orwell.org/Notes_on_Nationalism/0.html )

And he wrote of Kipling, in his essay on that writer, that he ‘sees clearly that men can only be high civilized while other men, inevitably less civilized, are there to feed and guard them.’

(http://www.george-orwell.org/Notes_on_Nationalism/0.html )

It was Kipling himself who wrote the famous line about ‘making mock o’ uniforms that guard you while you sleep.’ And it was also Kipling who remarked that ‘speaking roughly, you must employ either blackguards or gentlemen, or, best of all, blackguards commanded by gentlemen, to do butcher's work with efficiency and despatch.’ The line comes from the story The Drums of the Fore and Aft, which draws on events from the Second Afghan War of 1878-80.


"This is the Army that Churchill aptly described when he said..."

It has been several decades since it did this. Mostly it spreads ruin in foreign lands.

Alba Etie

'...and its our Thin Red Line of Heroes when the guns begin to shoot .."

Bill H

I too have seen Washington's Crossing. On the same trip we spent a day at Valley Forge and I was moved to speak in whispers. No historical place has ever before or since moved me as that place did.

Charles I

I first learned it in rehab, along with other lifesavers like calm blue ocean, its not about me, but F*** It, Drive On covers it all.

Charles I

Totally O/T, here's a bit of reporting on my repatriation planning questions:


"It is a January sale with a difference. . . .

We’ve got a long way to go, a lot of troops to move out yet

Buyers will need deep pockets to bid for lots that originally cost up to $25 million, (although the tender document says that all major credit cards are accepted). The sales even include “non-tactical vehicles”. Unfortunately, for Taliban commanders with an eye on a bargain, the documents make clear that term excludes “launchers and tanks”.

Weapons and other reusable kit are being shipped back home in a huge operation that logisticians call a “retrograde”. It includes bringing back as many as 40,000 shipping containers of equipment, worth an estimated $34 billion.

At a recent press briefing, Chuck Hagel, the US defence secretary, said the drawdown was ahead of schedule. “We’ve got a long way to go, a lot of troops to move out yet, a lot of equipment to move out yet,” he said. “But this is an issue that is as high on the priority list as any that we all have.”

At least 400 bases have already been closed or handed to local troops as foreign forces leave. Earlier this year, Afghan troops took over responsibility for security across the whole country. However, some 45,000 American troops are still in Afghanistan – along with more than 25,000 from other coalition countries – 12 years after the Taliban was ousted from power."


I lived in New Hope, PA, just a few miles from the site of crossing. There is a restaurant there, Bowman's Tavern, that dates back to thoses times. Given the state of the river, that crossing would be quite a piece of work.

William R. Cumming

Charles I! Thanks for this summary!


If I'm not mistaken, the first shelter at Valley Forge was completed on this day in 1777.



My 3rd great grandfather, Sergeant Amos Hall of the 7th Connecticut Line, was one of the people building the huts at VF. he participated in the Trenton operation. He served from 1765 until the Continental Army was disbanded after the Treaty of Paris. He had been at Yorktown and witnessed Cornwallis's surrender. pl


Was any country more fortunate than ours? George Washington. General. Founder. President. The only historical figure to my mind for whom familiarity breeds more respect....


Throw George Marshall in there as well.


BabelFish: Amen.

dilbert dogbert

The history of a more modern set of tough men is fading. Here is a link:http://ww2today.com/22-december-1944-us-commander-in-bastogne-nuts-to-surrender


Off topic, but an industry insider says that the whole oil price bubble of the last decade was a manipulation of the markets by the US and Saudis. It would also explain the strenuous efforts to keep cheap Iranian crude off the market.

"In my view, a geopolitical agreement was reached by the US with the Saudis ... that the US would consent to oil prices at a minimum level satisfactory to the Saudis budgeted expenditure (perhaps $80/barrel) while in return the Saudis would act to ensure that US gasoline prices did not exceed a maximum level at which President Obama's chances of re-election were threatened - about $3.50 per US gallon."


JohnH; Okay, John, then what changed?

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