thumbnail of Listen to the land; Barracks, battlefields, & birthrights, part 1
Hide -
If this transcript has significant errors that should be corrected, let us know, so we can add it to FIX IT+
Listen to the land the profile of a nation in terms of its living language. This week. Barracks battlefield and birthright. The writings of America at war. Listen to the land it produced by station w which y y Philadelphia under a grant from the National Educational Television and Radio Center in cooperation with the National Association of educational broadcasters. Now here is your host and the writer Richard as critic. December 16 1773. All day long the people of Boston and surrounding towns emergency gentleman to the number of 7000 and swarming down to the wharves. Look at the three ships standing in the harbor. The holes were filled with tea and history although the latter was not then in the minds of the people who milled around the crooked streets of the Old Town or gazed into the windows of the Green Dragon tavern meeting place of the radicals or who thronged in the Old South Meeting
House to listen to their leaders discuss what was to be done if Governor Hutchinson and Captain Rotch proved obdurate. And later when the captain did indeed give his final answer that if called upon by the Adept for zones of the D. It was a been a prodigious shouting the meeting broke up and the crowd poured down to Griffin's wharf and three bands of Mohawk Indians. Or were they never against it. Went quietly on board the three ships and threw overboard three hundred and forty two chests of tea. And thus began the American Revolution. The Boston Tea Party was the first decisive act leading to open rebellion earlier issues and conflicts had agitated and even exacerbated relations between the colonies and the mother country. The Stamp Act the Townshend Acts the seizure of the sloop liberty the Boston Massacre the burning of the gas by. But none of these precipitated an open break. Actually contrary to popular opinion
it was not the tax on the tea itself that aroused the resentment of the colonists but the danger of monopoly by the East India Company resulting from a permissive Act of Parliament of May 10 1773. The attitude of the colonists as characterized in the lyrics of the rallying song of the Tea Party rally Mohawks bring out your axes and tell King George will pay no taxes on his foreign t his threats are vain and vain to think to force our girls and wives to drink as vile both he and rally boys and hasten on to meet our Jeeps at the Green Dragon our Warrens they're unbowed revere with the hands to do one word to cheer about liberty and laws our country's Braves and firm defenders shall never be loved by True North Enders fighting freedom's cause than rally boys and hasten on to meet our chiefs at the Green Dragon. Probably the most famous song of the revolution didn't come along until five years
later three years after the first shots at Lexington and Concord early in January 1778. David Busch now the inventor of the American torpedo and other submarine machinery prepared a number of infernos as the British term them and set them afloat in the Delaware River a few miles above Philadelphia in order to annoy the royal shipping which at that time lay off that place. These machines were constructed of kegs charged with powder and so arranged as to explode on coming into contact with anything while floating along with the tide on their appearance the British seamen and troops became alarmed and manning the shipping and wharves discharged their small arms and cannon and everything they could see floating in the river during They had died upon this incident the following song was composed by Francis Hopkins and one of the happiest writers of his time. It soon became popular with Washington's army and as mentioned by a surgeon that year as follows. Our drums and fifes afforded
us a favorite music till evening when we were delighted with the song composed by Mr. Hopkins and the Battle of the kegs song in the best style by a number of gentlemen. And I'm going to spare you. Hearing me sing this song I'm going to read instead the lyrics of the battle of the kegs gallants attend and hear a friend drill for a harmonious ditty. Strange things I tell which late bee fell in Philadelphia City. It was early days as poets say just when the sun was rising. A soldier stood on a log of wood and saw things surprising as in a maze. He stood to gaze the truth can't be denied sir. He spied a score of more come floating down the tides. A sailor too and Jurgen blew this strange appearance viewing first damn desires and great surprise and said some mischief brewing. These kegs I'm told are rebels hold up like pickled herring and they're coming down docked down in this new way of ferrying
the soldier flew in a sailor too and scared almost to death or wore out their shoes to spread the news and ran to lot of breaths are now up and down throughout the town most frantic scenes were acted and some ran here and others there like men almost distracted some fire cried with some denied. But said the earthquake and girls and boys with hideous noise running through the streets half naked. SIR WILLIAM. He is a fleet lay all this time a snoring nor dreamed of harm as he lay warm in bed with Mrs. Loring now in a fright he starts up right awake with such a clatter. He rubs his eyes and boldly cries for God's sake what's the matter. As a society then a spider is going to come answer upon one foot the head one boot in t'other in his hands or our eyes so risk and cries the rebels more's the pity without a boat or on the frozen rings before the city and the motley crew and vessels know with what our guides and packed up in bags all would come driving down the tides of the pauper by a bloody war these gangs would all be rugged
and we surely will despise should be you and the British doubted. The royal band already stand all ranged and grab a racer with stomachs stout to see it out and make a bloody day sir. The cannons roar from shore to shore. The small arms make a rattle. Since wars began I'm sure no man ever saw so strange a battle the rebel Dale the rebel veils with rubble trees surrounded the distant woods the hills and floods with rebel echoes sounded the fish below swam to and fro attacked from every quarter. Why shore thought they the devil's to pay month folks above the water. The cage has said oh strongly made of rebel staves and hoops or cannot oppose their powerful foes the conquering British troops are from morning till night. These men of might displayed amazing courage and when the sun was fairly down but tired to stop their partridge and hundred
man live each a pan or more upon my word sir it is most true would be to fuel their valor to records or such feats did they perform that day against those wicked kegs there. That year was to come. They get home. They'll make their boasts and brags that. We think of war as a masculine activity and most women would prefer to leave it that way. But history is replete with acts of heroism and devotion of women and times and even in places of battle and the American Revolution is no exception. I came across a rather remarkable little volume and titled Women camp followers of the American Revolution by Walter Hart Blumenthal and published by George S. McManus Company of Philadelphia which I commend their attention if your library has it. Don't be misled by the common connotation of the term camp follower Mr. Blumenthal uses it in a double sense
in a section and titled American kept women under Washington. You're out on a sweltering Sunday August 23rd with Washington at their had some eight or nine thousand man march through Philadelphia down Front Street as Alexander the Great tells us but beforehand Washington issued rigorous orders as to the Koran and appearance of the troops from headquarters at Stanton near Germantown. He that day ordered in part quote if any soldiers shall dare to quit his ranks he'll receive 39 lashes at the first halting place afterwards. Not a woman belonging to the army used to be seen with the troops on their march through the city. All the rest of the wagons baggage and spare horses are to file off to the right avoid the city entirely and move on to the bridge at the middle ferry and their halt. So meticulous was this order that it further required the drums and fifes of each brigade are to be collected in the center of it and a tomb for the quickstep played. But with such
moderation that the men may step to it with ease and without dancing along or totally disregarding the music as too often has been the case while the men did as they were told but not the women. In what may be reasonably authentic description one limb there of the revolution thus conjures the scene. They were spirited off into the quaint dirty little alleyways and side streets but they hated it. The Army had barely passed through the main thoroughfares before these camp followers poured after their soldiers again their hair flying their brows beady from the heap their belongings slung over one shoulder chattering and yellowish and the yelling and sluggish thrills as they went and spitting in the gutters. Now this was doubtless the picture at its worst. Next day the army was at Darby across the new floating bridge over the scoop kill river at middle ferry and soon to plod its way toward Chester and Wilmington and that day Washington issued this order. At Darby the commander in chief
positively forbids the straggling of soldiers and the general officers commanding these divisions will take every precaution in their power effectually to prevent it. Will truth be told the American Patriots are too busy fighting and striving to survive to hamper their projected struggle with overmuch feminine ministration. Perhaps they were too near home. Be that as it may those who are less a feet days and the spirit that animated the ragged Continentals was shared by other health maids even to the point of taking up musket and Cannon rammer. Indeed many women of early generations adjoined in the fights against the Indians during colonial times and many and later westward days on the frontier had to take up arms on occasion in the defense of their cabin hones mettlesome where the two Colonial soldiers wives Sergeant Greer's wife and Mrs. Warner who in the first winter of the Revolutionary War endured the terrible hardships of Arnold's march to Quebec. One surviving her
husband who perished on the way as depicted in the novel Rundle by Kenneth Roberts. Indeed Aaron Burr took along his Indian mistress from Swan Island in the going to back River School Book annals still acclaim. Molly Pitcher really Mary lewdly who followed her Barbara husband John Hayes h a y as whore h a y e s. She fired the last gun shot at Fort Clinton before it was captured by the fall and when her husband was killed at Monmouth she manned the field piece where he lay and fired rounds shot at the redcoats. She was 24 and an expectant mother. Washington next day made her a sergeant and had her put on the half pay list for life another version has a maid or a sergeant who gave her a gold piece. It was also Mrs. Margaret carbon who when her husband fell at Fort Washington at the upper end of Manhattan Island a lumber 16 1776 took his place serving a
piece of artillery and who by resolution of Congress July 6 1779 received half pay for life. But most unusual was the exploit of Deborah Samson who having taught school for two years in May 17 81 at the age of 21 joined the fourth Massachusetts Regiment as Robert church laugh and served until October 17 83. By the most artful concealment of her sex she was wounded at Tarrytown and stricken with brain fever during the Yorktown campaign when her sex was discovered. General Washington gave her a discharge from service and a purse. Massachusetts in 1792 granted her a small sum and Congress an eighteen hundred five voted or a four dollar monthly pension which was later doubled. On her father's side she was descended from both the Miles Standish and John Alden
lines and on her mother's from Governor William Bradford of the Plymouth colony. As the wife of Benjamin Gannett she mothered three children and was probably the first American woman to give platform lectures. Her initial appearance at the Boston Theatre netting or $7 such female combatants whether or not in the guise of man stand apart from the mere camp following wives female relatives and sweethearts countenanced by the colonial authorities in conformity with overseas precedents. No program on the writings of America at war could be considered representative without the inclusion of something from the remarkable book by Stephen Crane The Red Badge of Courage. I say remarkable not because of its immediate Vogue or because crane wrote the novel in 10 days and nights the aged twenty
nine but because he had known nothing of the war up to that time in 1895 outside of books old magazines and old illustrations and the campaigns catches of Winslow Homer its handling of one of the greatest themes the novelty of its treatment of war as the private sees it in the person of Henry Fleming and a kind of actuality that readers had seldom found in a book before. Here from one of our most famous war novels is a striking scene of battle called wounded. His wound pained him but little he was afraid to move rapidly however for a dread of disturbing it. He held his head very still and took many precautions against stumbling. He was filled with anxiety and his face was pinched and drawn in anticipation of the pain of any sudden the stake of his feet in the gloom. His thoughts as he walked. Fixed intently upon his hurt. There was a cool liquid feeling about it and he imagined blood
moving slowly down under his hair. His head seemed swollen to a size that made him think his neck to be inadequate. The new silence of his wound made much worry him and a little blustering voices in pain had called out from a scalp where he thought definite in their expression of danger. By them he believed that he could measure his plight. But when they remained ominously silent he became frightened and imagined terrible fingers that clutched into his brain. A minute he began to reflect upon various incidents and conditions of the past to be thought him of certain meals his mother had cooked at home in which those dishes of which he was particularly fond and occupied prominent positions. He sought a spread table. The pine walls of the kitchen were glowing in the warm light from the stove too. He remembered how he and his companions used to go from the schoolhouse to the bank of a shaded pool. He saw as cloves and disorderly array upon the grass of the bank. He felt the swash of the fragrant
water upon his body the leaves of the overhanging maple rustled within the lee of youthful summer. He was overcome presently by a dragging weariness his head down forward and his shoulders were stooped as if he were bearing a great bundle. His feet shuffle along the ground. He held continuous arguments as to whether he should lie down and sleep but some near spot a foursome self on until he reached a certain haven. He often tried to dismiss the question but his body persisted in rebellion and his senses nagged at him like pampered babies. At last he heard a cheery voice near a shoulder. Same debate a burning bad way barring you did not look up but it scented with that. Young The owner of the voice took him firmly by the arm.
Oh how I am going you know why the whole God thing is going your way. Yes I can give you a lift. He began to walk like a drunken man and his friend as they went along the man questioned the youth and assisted him with the replies like one manipulating the mind of a child. Sometimes he interjected anecdotes. What regiment you belong to I don't attack them for if they aren't why what guards out in out is why I thought they were the gays today they're way over in the center and I was I'm on route pretty nearly everybody got their share of fight today by a data give us up for dead and a number of times there was shooting here and there and holler and hear an R in there and damn doctor still I couldn't tell to save my soul what side I was on. Sometimes I thought I was just another more higher Other times like I swore I was in a better under Florida or the most mixed up dern thing I ever see and these here whole woods is a regular mass from the America we find our regiments tonight. Pretty
soon I will meet plenty of guards and provost guards one thing other very good officer I guess with his hand a dragon. He got all the war you want to get under I wish we was sure a fine in our regiment and I'd come a long one but I guess we can do an act here. In the search which followed the man in the cheery voice seemed of the youth to possess a wand of a magic kind he threaded the mazes of the tangled forest with a strange fortune. An encounter with guards and patrols he displayed the keenness of a detective in the valor of a gammon. Obstacles fell before him and became of assistance. The youth with his chins Dawn's breast stood woodenly by while his companion beat ways and means out of solemn things. The forest seemed a vast high eve of men buzzing about in frantic circles but the cheering man conducted the youth without mistakes until at last he began to chuckle with glee and self-satisfaction.
If they had fired the youth nodded stupidly. Yeah but that's where your regiment is and now good bye old boy. Good luck to you. Bruce Catton and his slim volume America goes to war published by the Wesley and University Press. It states that the Civil War was the first of the world's really modern wars and that's what gives it its terrible significance for the great fact about modern war greater even than its frightful destructiveness and its calculated carefully applied inhumanity. Is that it never goes quite where the men who started intended to go men do not control modern war it controls them. If it says nothing else it says this to all men involved in it at the moment of its beginning. Nothing is ever going to be the same again. Captain
in his definitive book of that war from the union side this how would ground published by double day graphically describes what he considers to have been the turning point of the War Between the States. The leading figure in that incident was General George Brenton McClellan who had been summoned to Washington with such high hopes soon to become the general in chief of all U.S. land forces. A graduate of West Point and engineer experienced in the Mexican War under General Winfield Scott McClellan was the north's great hope as the leader to victory. But his constant postponements of attack has in decisiveness and caution cost not only battles but his own popularity and command. The latter when he was reduced from General in Chief to command of only the army of the Potomac at the point in this hallowed ground from which I was to read Captain writes as follows. McClellan had been quietly but effectively shelved when his army came
north it was fed down to Pope by bits and pieces until the final day of the Bull Run fight. All of it was gone. And McClellan was left isolated in Alexandria across the river from Washington a general without an army. He had not formally been removed from command but his command had been most definitely slipped out from under him. The thing had been done deliberately. Secretary Stanton disliked and distrusted him. Such men as treasury secretary salmon Pete chase considered him no better than outright traitor and the Republican Party leadership was almost muteness against Lincoln for having supported him so long. And anyway it appeared that victory just was not in the man he had been set aside and the war would go on without him. But the trouble was that at this particular moment McClellan was indispensable. He had warned Lincoln that union soldiers would not fight in an avowed war against slavery and there would be time enough later on to find out whether that was so. But what mattered most right now
was that this could never be turned into a war against slavery or anything else unless the Army of the Potomac very speedily won a victory over Robert E. Lee. And there was not a remote chance that I could do that now without General McClellan. Its elements have been thrown in with popes and had been beaten pope was wholly discredited and this disparate troops who were treating into the Washington lines were not at the moment any army at all in any real sense of the word. They had never been an army is the word is properly understood. They were a young man who heard bugles and drums and had seen flags waving and felt something outside of themselves come in and move them. And now they were tired dirty unhappy conscious that they had been beaten because they had been poorly led. The flame gone out of them. They were ready to quit and they could not conceivably be turned into a useful army again in time to do any good by anyone but the one man who would train them. The man in whom they had unwavering confidence to whom they
had given a mystic and explicable devotion and that man of course was McClellan needed the War Department and the cabinet could see that as Lincoln could and he acted on what he saw risking that which he dared not lose in order to win that which he had to have he put McClellan back in command and in effect told him to pull the army together and go out and whip the Army of Northern Virginia. It became a legend and a true thing to be remembered in the long years of peace how McClellan does one time rose to a great challenge and met it fully. He was a small man and he missed many chances and he probably was afraid of something not of death. There was much testimony about his courage under fire and he had picked up the hard West Point Training. But of life and the things that can go wrong with it. But for one evening of his life he was great and the Confederate tide began to add but the sun went down over the Virginia hills to the sound
of men who cheered as if they had touched the shores of dream come true. McClellan rode out from Alexandria on his great black War Horse a jaunty little man with a yellow sash around his waist a repose and gesture perfect. He cantered down the dusty roads and he met the heads of the retreating columns and he cried words of encouragement and swung his little cap and he gave the beaten man what no other man alive could have given him and fizzy as a confidence and exultant an unreasoning feeling that a time of troubles was over and that everything would be all right now. And it went into the legend. Truthfully for many men have testified to it that down mile after mile of Virginia roads the stumbling columns came alive and threw caps and knapsack into the air and yelled until they could yell no more and went on doing it until the sun went down and after dark exhausted man who lay in the dust sprang to their feet and cried aloud because they saw this
dapper little rider outlined against the purple starlight. And this in a way was the turning point of the war. It was odd that it should happen this way because this war was one of the great hinges of history a closing and an opening of mighty doors. And McClellan believed it was something very different. A bit of a disagreement among gentlemen which would presently be settled in the way of gentlemen so that everyone could go back to what they had had before the disagreement began and no one would go back to anything after this. McClellan wrote down the road to the sound of a mighty cheering the great crying. And because he did the war would go on and on to its dust and and with McClellan himself fading out of it in an extended anti-climax and with most of the men who called out to him dying or drifting off into the limbo of old soldiers who have had it. No one could ever quite explain it. The man who threw their caps and yell themselves hoarse in of their own will became a solid army again but
never quite on the list and the best McClellan himself could say finally was we are wedded and should not be separated which after all perhaps was the opposite directions on it. But whatever it was that really happened it would finally give Abraham Lincoln what he was looking for and American history would be different for ever after. We pause at this point for one week and our profile of war right. Next week we'll pick up with part two of Barak's battlefield and birthrights with a program devoted to writings that were concerned with the battlefront than with the home front during World Wars 1 and 2. I hope that you will plan to be with me again at that time and until then as a Dec. Burdick sang along.
Listen to the lander produced and recorded at station W.H. y y Philadelphia under a grant from the National Educational Television and Radio Center and being distributed by the National Association of educational broadcasters. This is James are inviting you to be with us next week for part 2. There are battlefields and birth rights with your host Richard S.. This is the end of the Radio Network.
Please note: This content is only available at GBH and the Library of Congress, either due to copyright restrictions or because this content has not yet been reviewed for copyright or privacy issues. For information about on location research, click here.
Listen to the land
Barracks, battlefields, & birthrights, part 1
Producing Organization
WHYY (Radio station : Philadelphia, Pa.)
Contributing Organization
University of Maryland (College Park, Maryland)
If you have more information about this item than what is given here, or if you have concerns about this record, we want to know! Contact us, indicating the AAPB ID (cpb-aacip/500-1c1tjn7k).
Episode Description
This program, the first of two parts, focuses on American literature related to war, particularly the American Revolution.
Series Description
A profile of a nation in terms of its living language. By sharing aloud the writings of the United States, past and present, a fuller appreciation of what it means to be American can be found.
War and Conflict
United States--History--Revolution, 1775-1783.
Media type
Announcer: Keeler, James
Host: Burdick, Richard S.
Producing Organization: WHYY (Radio station : Philadelphia, Pa.)
Writer: Hopkinson, Francis, 1737-1791
Writer: Blumenthal, Walter Hart, 1883-1969
Writer: Catton, Bruce, 1899-1978
AAPB Contributor Holdings
University of Maryland
Identifier: 4980 (University of Maryland)
Format: 1/4 inch audio tape
Duration: 00:30:00?
If you have a copy of this asset and would like us to add it to our catalog, please contact us.
Chicago: “Listen to the land; Barracks, battlefields, & birthrights, part 1,” University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed April 21, 2024,
MLA: “Listen to the land; Barracks, battlefields, & birthrights, part 1.” University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. April 21, 2024. <>.
APA: Listen to the land; Barracks, battlefields, & birthrights, part 1. Boston, MA: University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from