Full Online Books
BOOK CATEGORIES
Authors Authors Short Stories Short Stories Long Stories Long Stories Funny Stories Funny Stories Love Stories Love Stories Stories For Kids Stories For Kids Poems Poems Essays Essays Nonfictions Nonfictions Plays Plays Folktales Folktales Fairy Tales Fairy Tales Fables Fables Learning Kitchen Learning Kitchen
LINKS
Valid XHTML 1.0 Transitional Free Classified Website Without Registration Free Classified Website Daniel Company
Twitter Twitter Add book
donate
Full Online Book HomePlaysWashington Crossing The Delaware
Famous Authors (View All Authors)
Washington Crossing The Delaware Post by :cyberagora Category :Plays Author :Henry Fisk Carlton Date :September 2010 Read :2441

Click below to download : Washington Crossing The Delaware (Format : PDF)

Washington Crossing The Delaware

HOW TO BE A GOOD RADIO ACTOR

The play in this book has actually been produced on the radio. Possibly you have listened to this one when you tuned in at home. The persons whose voices you heard as you listened, looked just as they did when they left their homes to go to the studio, although they were taking the parts of men and women who lived long ago and who wore costumes very different from the ones we wear today.

The persons whose voices you heard stood close together around the microphone, each one reading from a copy of the play in his hand. Since they could not be seen, they did not act parts as in other plays, but tried to make their voices show how they felt.

When you give these plays you will not need costumes and you will not need scenery, although you can easily arrange a broadcasting studio if you wish. You will not need to memorize your parts; in fact, it will not be like a real radio broadcast if you do so, and, furthermore, you will not want to, since you will each have a copy of the book in your hands. All you will need to do is to remember that you are taking the part of a radio actor, that you are to read your speeches very distinctly, and that by your voice you will make your audience understand how you feel. In this way you will have the fun of living through some of the great moments of history.

 

HOW TO FOLLOW DIRECTIONS IN THE PLAY

There are some directions in this play which may be new to you, but these are necessary, for you are now in a radio broadcasting studio, talking in front of a microphone. The word (in) means that the character is standing close to the microphone, while (off) indicates that he is farther away, so that his voice sounds faint. When the directions (off, coming in) are given, the person speaking is away from the microphone at first but gradually comes closer. The words (mob) or (crowd noise) you will understand mean the sound of many people talking in the distance.

Both the English and the dialect used help make the characters live, so the speeches have been written in the way in which these men and women would talk. This means that sometimes the character may use what seems to you unusual English. The punctuation helps, too, to make the speeches sound like real conversation; for example, you will find that a dash is often used to show that a character is talking very excitedly.

 


CAST

GENERAL WASHINGTON

COLONEL REED

JOHN HONEYMAN

COLONEL RALL

A CORPORAL

A SOLDIER

GENERAL KNOX

COLONEL GLOVER

MOB

VOICE

ORDERLY

 

ANNOUNCER
We take pleasure in presenting this story of Washington crossing the Delaware. The picture of that famous event is familiar to everyone, but the story of what led up to it, and of its importance in American history is not so well known.

The fall and early winter of the year 1776 saw the fortunes of Washington's army sink very low indeed. Beginning with the defeat on Long Island in late August, Washington and his army had met reverse after reverse. They had been forced to retire in succession from Manhattan to Fort Washington, then across the river to Fort Lee, then from Fort Lee to Hackensack. This succession of defeats and the enforced retirements had disorganized and depleted the army. But even worse than that, it had well-nigh ruined the morale of the civilian population, whose hearty support was absolutely necessary if the war was to be carried on. But now, discouraged and disheartened, the mass of the population gave Washington no help, no encouragement, no cooperation.

This is the situation on the morning of November 22, 1776, as we begin our story. Washington is in his headquarters at Hackensack, New Jersey, when Colonel Joseph Reed, his aide, enters--

REED
Good morning, General Washington!

WASHINGTON
Good morning, Colonel, what news?

REED
Not much, I'm afraid, sir.

WASHINGTON
Have we no information of the British movements yet?

REED
None!

WASHINGTON
What's the matter with our intelligence service?

REED
It's completely disrupted, sir; and we can get
no help from the civilian population.

WASHINGTON
I know--they've lost all faith in us, Colonel. Nothing
but a victory can bring us again the loyalty and help
of our own people! It's discouraging, Colonel, to think
that now when we need it more than ever before,
we can get no help!

REED
Sir, if we could only turn and strike a quick blow,
we might recapture Fort Lee.

WASHINGTON
Yes--if I only knew what force of the enemy is holding
the Fort, and when Lord Howe expects to bring the rest
of his army across the Hudson.

REED
Well, we don't know that!

WASHINGTON
And without an intelligence service we can't find out!
Of course if General Lee would join me--there wasn't
any word from Lee this morning, was there?

REED
None, sir.

WASHINGTON
Oh, why doesn't he answer? Why doesn't he come?
It's been more than a week now since I ordered him
to join me at once! Have you heard any rumor about him?
Has he left Peekskill yet? Has he crossed the Hudson?

REED
I haven't heard a word. He hasn't even acknowledged
the last half dozen orders I've forwarded to him.

WASHINGTON

That's the most discouraging thing of all! If the
second in command won't obey orders, is it any wonder
that the rest of the army is out of hand? Oh, well!
We can't hope to do anything without Lee's help,
so there's nothing for us to do but retreat--

REED
Again?

WASHINGTON
Yes, Colonel, our small force is uselessly exposed here.
We can't risk capture--that would be the end of everything!

REED
Yes, sir.

WASHINGTON
If Lord Howe crosses the Hudson in force, we'd be trapped
between the Hackensack and the Passaic Rivers.

REED
I'm afraid so, sir.

WASHINGTON
So--we've got to begin our retreat at once.

REED
The troops are ready to move, sir. It shouldn't take us
long to get out of danger with our small force.

WASHINGTON
Yes, yes, that's one advantage of a small army, isn't it, Colonel?
At least we can retreat rapidly! I suppose the force we have
is even smaller today than it was yesterday?

REED
I'm afraid so, sir. The morning report showed less than
five thousand present and fit for duty!

WASHINGTON
If we only had Lee's seven thousand! But we haven't.
You may order the retreat at once, Colonel.

REED
Yes sir, over what route?

WASHINGTON
We'll move across the Acquackonack bridge,
and thence to Newark.

REED
Yes, sir. I'll write the orders, sir.

(rattle of paper)

WASHINGTON
Colonel John Glover with his Marblehead regiment
will cover the retreat as usual.

REED
Yes, sir. And the advance?

WASHINGTON
Knox and his artillery will lead. We mustn't lose our guns--the few we have left.

REED
Yes, sir.

WASHINGTON
(half to himself)

Retreat--retreat--retreat! Is there nothing else in store for us?

REED
Will you sign these, sir?

WASHINGTON
Yes--the quill.

REED
Here you are, sir.

WASHINGTON
Thank you.

(rattle of paper)
You may send the orders at once, Colonel.

REED
Yes, General.

(calling)
Orderly!

VOICE
Yes, sir.

REED
Deliver these orders at once!

VOICE
Yes, sir.

WASHINGTON
I suppose it's useless to send another order to Lee.

REED
We can send one--I don't think it will have any effect.

WASHINGTON
He ought to be informed of where we're going--yes,
write him again, tell him we're retreating to Newark--

REED
Very well, sir--and after Newark?

WASHINGTON
Retreat again I suppose. New Brunswick--Trenton--across
the Delaware into Pennsylvania.

REED
Yes sir, if we have any army left by then.

WASHINGTON
We have some loyal souls who will stand with us to the end. We may have to retreat to the back country of Pennsylvania; but winter is coming, Lord Howe is not an energetic foe, and he will hardly press us after the snow falls. Then if we can fill up our depleted ranks we'll be ready for him in the spring.

REED
Oh, General, if we could only make one stand against
the enemy! Make one bold stroke to put new heart
into our discouraged countrymen!

WASHINGTON
I know--I know, Colonel! If Lee would only obey my orders!

REED
Very little hope of that!

WASHINGTON
I know--and I can't understand his motives!

REED
Why sir, they're perfectly plain to me
--and to the rest of the army.

WASHINGTON
Indeed?

REED
Certainly--he wants to discredit you--to bring about
your failure--so that he can succeed to your command!

WASHINGTON
So--?

(pause)
Well, if Lee can bring victory where I have failed,
I'll be only too glad to step down in his favor.

REED
Sir, I beg of you, you mustn't even entertain such
a thought, why General Lee could no more

--(knock)

WASHINGTON
Will you see who it is, Colonel.

REED
Yes, sir

--(mumble at a distance, then out loud)
General, there's a man here who wants to see you.

WASHINGTON
Who is it?

REED
He refuses to give his name,
and says his business is private.

WASHINGTON
Tell him to come in.

REED
Yes, sir

--(off)
Come on in, the General will see you.

HONEYMAN
Thankee--thankee, sir. I'm obleeged to ye, sir.

(in)
Be ye General Washington?

WASHINGTON
I am, and what can I do for you?

HONEYMAN
Wal'--General--if ye don't mind--er--er--

WASHINGTON
Yes?

HONEYMAN
I'd like to see ye alone--sir--it's important!

WASHINGTON
Alone? Oh, very well, Colonel--

REED

I'll go, sir.

WASHINGTON
Write that letter to Lee.

REED
(going)

Yes, sir.

(door closes)

WASHINGTON
Now, what is it?

HONEYMAN
Wal', here I be, General--

WASHINGTON
Yes?

HONEYMAN
An' I've had tarnation's own time gittin' here--I cal'ate half yer army stopped me an' wanted to know my name an' my business--an' they wasn't goin' to let me in when I wouldn't tell 'em. But it takes more'n that to stop John Honeyman when he gits sot on doin' something.

WASHINGTON
Your name is John Honeyman?

HONEYMAN
That's me, sir, an' I promised Marthy--that's
my wife, sir--that I'd come to see ye--and
I come, an' here I be!

WASHINGTON
And what can I do for you, Mr. Honeyman?

HONEYMAN
Nary a thing, General Washington.

WASHINGTON
Then what--?

HONEYMAN
I come to make ye an offer.

WASHINGTON
Well?

HONEYMAN
I'm in a way to find out a lot o' things
that's goin' on in the British Army.

WASHINGTON
So?

HONEYMAN
Aye, ye see, I'm a butcher.

WASHINGTON
Well?

HONEYMAN

An' I've got a contract to supply the
redcoats with beef. Now they think I'm
a good Tory! But General, I ain't!

WASHINGTON
I'm glad to hear that!

HONEYMAN
An' I figgered that mebbe I could find out things
an' tell ye about 'em--if we could fix things up.

WASHINGTON
How much do you want for your information?

HONEYMAN
No! No! General! I ain't tryin' to sell ye nothin'!

WASHINGTON
I beg your pardon, Mr. Honeyman.
But I have so many insincere offers.

HONEYMAN
I know--I know! I hear folks talk. They think I'm a
Tory! Wal', sir, I want they should keep on a-thinkin' it!
I cal'ate if I'm a-goin' to be any use to ye, nobody must
know I ain't a rip-roarin' all-fired Tory.

WASHINGTON
Certainly!

HONEYMAN
An' that's the why I wouldn't tell none
o' yer men what my name er my business was.

WASHINGTON
Mr. Honeyman, you've shown extraordinary good sense!
You're exactly the man I've been looking for! I'm in
desperate need of reliable information. And I believe
you're the man to get it for me.

HONEYMAN
I cal'ate I be.

WASHINGTON
Have you any information now?

HONEYMAN
A mite.

WASHINGTON
Well?

HONEYMAN
Lord Cornwallis is bringin' 15,000 men
across the Hudson tonight, to git ye.

WASHINGTON
We'll be gone.

HONEYMAN
That's fu'st-rate! Now I'll be goin'--an' I'll keep
ye informed when I know anything ye ought to know.

WASHINGTON
Just a moment, Honeyman. How are you going
to get your information to me?

HONEYMAN
Wal', I figger I might come to see ye--

WASHINGTON
No, you'd be sure to excite suspicion.

HONEYMAN
I'd be as keerful as could be.

WASHINGTON
No--I mustn't even let my own men
know you're working for me.

HONEYMAN
Wal'--ye might have me captured now an' agin--tell yer men I'm a notorious Tory--an' have 'em be on the lookout fer me particular! Then when I've got something fer ye, I'll put myself in the way o' gittin' captured.

WASHINGTON
Good! That's an excellent idea. I'll have to
give you a pretty bad name with my troops.

HONEYMAN
Pshaw--I don't mind that, sir.

WASHINGTON
And I don't know how I can reward you.

HONEYMAN
I don't need no reward to help ye, General Washington,
I got a duty to do that!--There's only jest one thing, sir--

WASHINGTON
Yes?

HONEYMAN
I'd sorta--er--kinda like my wife an' children
protected from the--wal'--the results o' my bein'
an active an' notorious Tory.

WASHINGTON
Of course.

HONEYMAN
Ye see, I don't mind what folks think o' me,
but Marthy--that's my wife, sir--she an' the
young un's might git--wal'--treated pretty shabby.

WASHINGTON
I understand. I'll give you an order for them
to use in case of necessity.

HONEYMAN
Would ye--er--sign it yerself, General?

WASHINGTON
Certainly! Here--I'll write it now.

(rattle of paper)

Let's see--
(slowly)
"To the Good People of New Jersey and all others
it may concern: It is ordered that the wife and
children of John Honeyman of--" Where's your home?

HONEYMAN
Grigstown, sir.

WASHINGTON
"--of Grigstown, the notorious Tory now within the
British lines and probably acting the part of a
British spy, should be protected from all harm and
annoyances. This is no protection to Honeyman himself."
Is that satisfactory?

HONEYMAN
I cal'ate that covers it, sir.

WASHINGTON
Very well, I'll sign it

--(signing)
There you are, sir.

HONEYMAN
I'm much obleeged to ye, sir.

WASHINGTON
No, Honeyman, I'm the one who is your debtor. Good day, sir.

HONEYMAN
Good day, General Washington.
Next time ye see me I'll be yer prisoner.


ANNOUNCER
And John Honeyman left Washington's camp to set about making his position secure with the British. He became one of the regular meat contractors for Cornwallis's army, which pursued Washington across the state of New Jersey during the next month.

Washington did not hurry his retreat, but he always got away. Finally about the first of December, he came to Trenton, where he halted for a week and sent men up and down the river to collect all the boats on the Delaware. He knew that he would be forced to retreat into Pennsylvania; and he proposed to leave no means for the enemy to follow him. On December 8, 1776, the British advance, which consisted of a brigade of Hessians under Colonel Rall, entered Trenton; but as usual, Washington was half a day ahead of his pursuers, and as the Hessians entered the village, the rear guard of the Americans was just entering the last of the boats, and safely pulled away to the Pennsylvania shore! Lord Howe, who had joined Cornwallis, sent out men to look for boats, but none could be found. The weather turned cold. Lord Howe was uncomfortable; so he decided to put his troops into winter quarters and let the pursuit go. He had done enough for one season!

He and Cornwallis arranged to scatter the troops about New Jersey to hold that territory, while they went back to New York to enjoy the winter.

Trenton was left in charge of Colonel Rall and his brigade of Hessians. On December 22, John Honeyman drove a small herd of cattle into Trenton, left them standing in front of headquarters, as he went up and knocked on the door.

(knocks)

RALL
(off)

Come in! Come in!

HONEYMAN
Mornin', Colonel Rall!

RALL
Oh, it's you, Honeyman!

HONEYMAN
Aye, it's me--an' I got some cattle out
front here fer yer Quartermaster.

RALL
Well, that's good news--my men will be glad to see
that beef! Now we can give 'em a Christmas dinner
that'll be a Christmas dinner!

HONEYMAN
All ye need now, Colonel, is a mite o' wine, eh?

RALL
Never fear, we've got the wine!

HONEYMAN
Wal', ye kin have a fu'st-rate Christmas then.

RALL
Yes sir! With roast beef and two hogsheads of fine
wine--we should do very well.

HONEYMAN
Two? Pshaw, is that all?

RALL
Why--what's the matter with that?

HONEYMAN
Two hogsheads won't go so far with a whole brigade.

RALL
Oh, I haven't got a whole brigade.

HONEYMAN
Ye ain't?

RALL
No, just a thousand men, that's all! Why sir, they
can all get roarin' drunk on the ration I'll issue 'em.

HONEYMAN
An' like as not they will, eh, Colonel?

RALL
(chuckling)

Well, Honeyman, what do you expect o' soldiers?
Christmas you know--and out here in this God-forsaken
place. Let 'em get drunk, I say. There's nothing else to do.

HONEYMAN
Wal', Colonel, I cal'ate 'tain't often ye find a
better officer than ye be! I'd like to serve under ye!

RALL
Well, if you want--

HONEYMAN
Yes, sir. I'd do it if I wasn't helpin' along things in my way by roundin' up food fer the king's men. Wal', mebbe ye better sign fer these critters out in front an' I'll be gittin' along. I got to hike over to the next post. Er--by the way--how fer is it to the next detachment o' troops?

RALL
Oh, about six miles south.

HONEYMAN
Six miles, huh? How fer to the next one north?

RALL
Nobody north of us.

HONEYMAN
Eh, nobody north?

RALL
No, I'm command of the flank. This is the last post.

HONEYMAN
I cal'ate that makes a lot o' hard work fer ye, Colonel?

RALL
Hard work?

HONEYMAN
Sure, don't ye have to patrol up an' down the
river, an' sich like things?

RALL
(laughing)

What for?

HONEYMAN
Wal', after all, there's some o' the
enemy left, ain't there?

RALL
(laughing)

A half-a-dozen starved ragamuffins.
What could they do to my trained Hessians?

HONEYMAN
(joining in the laugh)

Not much, I cal'ate!
Ye ain't in much danger, an' that's a fact!

RALL
If we had some boats we'd soon make short work of
them. But confound the rascals, they made away
with all the boats.

HONEYMAN
Ye ain't got no boats, eh?

RALL
Not a one!

HONEYMAN
Ye ain't built none, eh?

RALL
Why should we?

HONEYMAN
Wal'--if ye want to git across the river--

RALL
Oh, we'll get across as soon as the river freezes over.
We'll get the last o' the rebels then.

HONEYMAN
Wal', Colonel, good luck to ye. But I hope ye won't
be in too big a hurry to capture all the rebels!

RALL
Eh, what's that?

HONEYMAN
Er--I'll be out of a job; and so'll ye be, Colonel!

RALL
Yes, that's right too. Well, let's have a look
at your cattle and I'll sign for 'em.

HONEYMAN
Come on--you fu'st, sir.

RALL
Thanks--hm--how many did you say there were?

HONEYMAN
There's twenty-two critters there--er,
there was when I drove 'em up.

RALL
Hm--they look a little scrawny.

HONEYMAN
Best I could git, Colonel!

RALL
(counting)

Two--four--five--seven--ten

(etc.)
Hm--twenty-one's all I make, Honeyman.

HONEYMAN
Twenty-one? Pshaw now--did one o' them critters
go trapsin' off.

(he counts)
Yes sir, that's just what's happened. Wall--sign fer
the twenty-one, an' I'll go out lookin' fer that other critter.

RALL
Here you are--let me have that bill--

(rattle of paper)
Twenty-one in good condition, signed--Rall.
There you are. Hope you find the other one.

HONEYMAN
Thankee--where's that road off to the left go?

RALL
That--oh, that's the river road.

HONEYMAN
I cal'ate the critter musta gone that way.

RALL
Better keep a sharp lookout if you go down that way.

HONEYMAN
Eh? What fer?

RALL
Some o' those ragamuffin rebels might be
on this side of the river.

HONEYMAN
Pshaw now--ye don't say!
They come across the river, do they?

RALL
Yes, once in a while. But they don't dare bother us.
But they might pick up a civilian.

HONEYMAN
Oh, I cal'ate I kin take keer o' myself.
I got my whip and this halter.

RALL
(laughing)

That ought to be enough to scare 'em away from you!

HONEYMAN
(going)

They'll figger I'm the hangman come out to git
'em--fetchin' my halter along!

(he and RALL laugh)


ANNOUNCER
So Honeyman started down the river road, cracking his whip and swinging his halter. A couple of miles down the road, four Continental soldiers were in hiding. They had been sent out with instructions to pick up a prisoner, if possible, and bring him into Washington's headquarters for the purpose of securing information. As Honeyman drew near their place of hiding in the brush alongside the river road, the men heard the snapping of his whip. (crack of whip)

CORPORAL
(low)

What's that?

SOLDIER
Don't know, sounds funny. See anything, Corporal?

CORPORAL
There, I see him! Huh, it's just a farmer crackin' his driving whip.

SOLDIER
Yah, I see him. What's he got in his other hand?

CORPORAL
Looks like a piece o' rope.

SOLDIER
A halter! Look, Corporal!

CORPORAL
Yep. A halter. Well, no use stoppin' him. Lie low.
We want to get one o' them Hessians.
By George, though, I'd like to have that whip.

SOLDIER
What for?

CORPORAL
To use on the Hessians we're goin' to git!

SOLDIER
You bet. Them mercenaries ought to be whipped out
o' the country! Shootin's too good for 'em--we'd ought to--

CORPORAL
Sh! He's gettin' closer.

SOLDIER
Say! I know that fellow.

CORPORAL
Yah? What about it? Keep quiet, I said!

SOLDIER
No! Listen, Corporal, we got to capture him.

CORPORAL
Why?

SOLDIER
The General issued orders about him.

CORPORAL
Who is he?

SOLDIER
Honeyman!

CORPORAL
Honeyman the Tory?

SOLDIER
That's who it is. Let's grab him.

CORPORAL
Men!

(several voices respond)
We're going to take this fellow. All right now--lie
low--and when I give the signal, jump!

HONEYMAN
(off, coming in)

So-o-o, boss--where's that dang critter gone to?
I cal'ate mebbe--

CORPORAL
Halt! Get him boys!

HONEYMAN
Say! What's the matter--what ye doin'!

ALL
Come on! Grab him! Get hold of him there!
Down with him!

(etc.)

HONEYMAN
(at same time)

Hey, you scoundrels! Git off me! Leave me be!
I'm a peaceable man, ye ain't got no right to do
this to me--git off me--git off--I say--hey, leave
go my halter!

SOLDIERS
Well, ain't this nice, boys. He's brought along a
rope for us to tie him up with, now ain't that
thoughtful--here--leave go the rope.

HONEYMAN
Let me up--don't ye tie me up!
I'm jest a farmer--out huntin' a stray cow!

CORPORAL
Stray cow, eh? Well, we was huntin' a stray coward!

(laughter)
Here give me that whip!

SOLDIER
Here ye are, Corporal! Well boys, take a look at
him--this here's Honeyman the Tory.

(all comment)

CORPORAL
All right, throw him into the boat! General Washington'll
be right pleased to see ye, Mister Honeyman!
Come along--oh, ye won't go, eh--well, fetch him, boys.

HONEYMAN
Leave me be! Stop it! The King's men'll make ye pay fer this.

ALL
Hey shut up--grab him Tom--stop that kickin',
fetch him along.

(etc.)

ANNOUNCER
Protesting and struggling, Honeyman was thrown into the
boat and carried to the Pennsylvania shore of the
Delaware. In the meantime, on that very afternoon of
December 22, 1776, Washington was holding a council
of war with his staff.

WASHINGTON
Gentlemen, I regret to inform you that Congress
has fled from Philadelphia.

ALL
What? Fled? Left Philadelphia? Too bad!

(etc.)

WASHINGTON
I'm sorry! I asked them particularly to stay there,
as I feared the effect on the people of the country.
But it seems that even Congress has lost faith in the army.

KNOX
General Washington.

WASHINGTON
General Knox.

KNOX
We've got to do something to re-establish their faith!

(all agree)

WASHINGTON
Yes! But what? Charles Lee is captured--his army
gone--we can't look for any help from that quarter.

KNOX
Sir, can't we go back across the river, suddenly
--and strike a blow before the enemy knows what
we are up to?

WASHINGTON
We'll have to! It's our only hope. But how, when, and where? I had hoped that we might get information that would guide us in our plans. Well, we haven't got it! Now, much as I hate to make any move without full and complete information, I don't see what else we can do. The river will be frozen over in a week or ten days. That means that the enemy can cross over and chase us whither they please! If we are to do anything, we've got to do it now! I've called you here to lay this before you. Will you follow me on a blind chance?

ALL
Yes! We will! You can count on us, sir.

(etc.)

WASHINGTON
I want you all to realize that this is a desperate
chance. Failure means--well, we might as well face
it--it means the end of our cause; but success--well,
gentlemen, we can only hope and pray for success!

(knock)

Will you see who's at the door, Colonel Reed?

REED
Yes, sir.

WASHINGTON
Tell whoever it is to come back later--I'm in council.

REED
Yes, sir.

(a mumble at the door)

I beg pardon, sir, they've just brought in a prisoner.

WASHINGTON
Good, tell them to wait outside.

REED
They say, sir, it's Honeyman the Tory, and you left orders--

WASHINGTON
Honeyman? Excellent! Gentlemen, I must ask you to leave me.

ALL
Yes sir, General, of course.

(etc.)

WASHINGTON
You may hold yourselves in readiness for action.
I'll issue the orders shortly.

ALL
(going)

Yes, sir. Very good, sir.

(etc.)

WASHINGTON
Bring the prisoner in, Colonel Reed.

REED
(off)

Yes, sir. Bring him in, men.

VOICES
(coming in)

Here you are--come along.
(etc.)

CORPORAL
Here he is, General, that Tory you wanted, sir.

WASHINGTON
Very good, men. You may go.

CORPORAL
Can you handle him safe, sir?

WASHINGTON
He seems to be well bound. I think I'll have no trouble.

CORPORAL
Yes, sir. Very good, sir. Come on, men. We'll wait outside, sir.

WASHINGTON
(loud)

Well, Honeyman. We've got you at last, eh?

HONEYMAN
(loud)

I demand to be set free.
Ye'll all answer to yer King fer this.

(door shuts)

WASHINGTON
(low)

What news?

HONEYMAN
Across the river in Trenton there ain't but
a thousand Hessians.

WASHINGTON
Who's commanding?

HONEYMAN
Colonel Rall, and he ain't none too keerful--no patrols
up er down the river--nobody at all north of him, and
six miles to the nearest post on the south of him.

WASHINGTON
Excellent--excellent! We can do it! I'll order the
attack tomorrow night! We'll trap them! We'll fight
for once instead of retreat--we'll--

HONEYMAN
Beggin' yer pardon, sir.

WASHINGTON
Well?

HONEYMAN
If yer figgerin' on attackin', the time is Christmas night!

WASHINGTON
Why?

HONEYMAN
On Christmas the Hessians are goin' to git a big
issue o' heavy wine, an' wal'--General--ye know
soldiers--I don't have to say no more!

WASHINGTON
Good! Christmas night! Yes that's it! Has Colonel
Rall taken any precautions against surprise?

HONEYMAN
Nary a one that I could see. He ain't a mite o' use
fer you er yer soldiers. Ragamuffins he called 'em.

WASHINGTON
Ragamuffins? Yes, they are, poor fellows, but Honeyman,
we'll see--perhaps ragamuffins can fight when they're
given the chance--and with this information, you have
given us our chance!

HONEYMAN
Wal', sir, I thought ye'd like to know.

WASHINGTON
Now, shall I turn you lose, Honeyman?

HONEYMAN
No, General, I figger ye'd better treat me like a
prisoner er I can't be any more use to ye.

WASHINGTON
True, very well then. I'll have you put in the
guardhouse and contrive to have you escape.

HONEYMAN
Yes, sir.

WASHINGTON
(calling)

Oh, Orderly!

VOICE
(off)

Yes, sir.

WASHINGTON
Tell the Corporal who's waiting out there to
come in and take his prisoner to the guardhouse.

ORDERLY
Yes, sir--Corporal, come take charge of your prisoner.

CORPORAL
(off, coming in)

Come on, men! Fall in around the prisoner--and look
sharp that he doesn't try anything--forward march!

(sound of feet receding)

WASHINGTON
(to himself)

Christmas night! Trenton--God be with us!


ANNOUNCER
That night, by some unexplained accident, John Honeyman escaped from the guardhouse and returned to the British lines, where he continued his valuable service for the American cause.

Washington, with the information that Honeyman had brought him, was able to lay his plans intelligently and carefully.

Just after dusk has fallen on Christmas night, Washington orders his troops to the shore of the river. Snow is falling and the wind is howling, as Washington and Knox stand together near the boat landing

--(wind and murmur of crowd with occasional sharp
commands in background through this scene.
)

WASHINGTON
This weather ought to help us, Knox.

KNOX
Brrr--it's cold enough to keep the Hessians indoors--if that's what you mean, General.

WASHINGTON
The snow will cover our movements.

KNOX
Yes--in more ways than one, General.

VOICE
(off)

First brigade is formed, sir.

WASHINGTON
Very good.

(lower)
Order embarkation to begin, Knox.

KNOX
Artillery first, sir?

WASHINGTON
No, a company of foot soldiers first
to stand guard and protect the landing.

KNOX
Yes, sir.

(calling)
General Green!

VOICE
(off)

Yes, sir.

KNOX

Send one of your companies across first
to stand guard and protect the landing.

VOICE
Very good, sir. Company A, into the boats!

(orders and mob confusion)

KNOX
The river looks bad, sir. See all the ice? It looks wicked!

WASHINGTON
Ice! Hm--I hadn't foreseen this.

VOICE
(calling)

General Knox!

KNOX
What is it?

VOICE
The boatmen say they can't make it, sir.

WASHINGTON
Can't make it? But they've got to!

VOICE
Sorry sir, they say the floating ice--

WASHINGTON
Call Colonel Glover, Knox!

KNOX
(calling)

Glover! Colonel Glover!
Pass the word for Colonel Glover.

(order repeated several times at different distances)

WASHINGTON
We've got to get across, Knox, we've got to!
If this attempt fails, there's nothing left
for us! Nothing!

KNOX
We'll get across, sir, if we have to swim.

GLOVER
(coming in)

Colonel Glover reports, sir.

WASHINGTON
Colonel Glover, can your regiment of seafaring
men handle our boats in that river?

GLOVER
General Washington, my men can handle boats in any water!

WASHINGTON
The boatmen say they can't cross because of the floating ice.

GLOVER
Sir, my men are sea sailors, not river
boatmen--it takes more than ice to scare them off!

WASHINGTON
Good! Put some of them in every boat.

GLOVER
Yes, sir.

WASHINGTON
And you will take general charge of the entire fleet.

GLOVER

Very good, sir.

WASHINGTON
Tell them to listen to General Knox's commands.
He is the only one whose voice can be heard in this storm!

GLOVER
Very good, sir!

(going out)

This way, the Marblehead regiment! This way to the boats!

(mob)

ANNOUNCER
For the next nine hours the difficult work of crossing
the ice-filled river went forward. Colonel Glover and
his regiment of seafaring men from Marblehead,
Massachusetts, performed almost miraculous service
in landing every man, horse, and gun without losing anything!

It was five o'clock in the morning of December 26 when
Washington, now on the Jersey shore of the river,
turned to Knox--

(wind and crowd noise)

WASHINGTON
Has the last boatload landed, Knox?

KNOX
Yes, sir.

WASHINGTON
Call the men to attention.

KNOX
(calling)

Call your men to attention!

VOICES
Company--company!

(etc.)
Attention! First regiment is formed, sir, second

--(etc.)

KNOX
The men are formed, sir.

WASHINGTON
Men, we are about to start upon our most important offensive. Upon the results of our efforts this morning depends the outcome of our struggle for liberty and independence.

I shall take the first brigade and half the artillery with me down the Pennington road. The rest of the detachment under command of General Green will take the river road. It should take us about four hours to reach the outposts of Trenton. Now, it is necessary for us to attack simultaneously, so will the officers all set their watches with mine. It is now just five o'clock and ten minutes. At nine o'clock, attack!

Let every man march quietly, keep in good order in the ranks, give prompt obedience to his officers, and bear in mind the watchword--Victory or Death! March your men off!

VOICES
First Regiment--Second Regiment--Company--Company--

(etc.)


ANNOUNCER
Thus, on that cold and stormy December morning, the half frozen, desperate band of ragamuffin soldiers started its march toward Trenton--toward its last forlorn hope. Washington prayed that he might catch the garrison of Hessians unsuspecting and unprepared; but he feared that he had taken so long to effect the crossing of the ice-filled river that he could not surprise the enemy!

As a matter of fact, warning was sent to Colonel Rall,
but that officer, secure in his belief that no effective
force of Colonial soldiers could be sent against him,
paid no attention to the warning.

It was nearly nine o'clock when the Corporal of the
advance guard of Washington's detachment hurried back
to report to the General.

CORPORAL
General Washington, we've sighted the enemy outpost.

WASHINGTON
Good! Halt the brigade, Knox.

KNOX
Brigade!

VOICES
Company--company!
(etc.)

KNOX
Halt!

WASHINGTON
It lacks five minutes of the time set! Oh, Corporal--

CORPORAL
Yes, sir?

WASHINGTON
Did you see any sign of
General Green's command on the river road?

CORPORAL
We saw 'em a half hour ago,
sir, as we came over that hill back there.

WASHINGTON
Were they abreast of us?

CORPORAL
Yes, sir, a little ahead of us, sir.

WASHINGTON
Good. General Knox.

KNOX
Yes, sir.

WASHINGTON
This storm has likely ruined the flintlocks.

KNOX
No doubt of that, sir--we'll have to use bayonets.

WASHINGTON
Order bayonets fixed, and the troops
deployed ready to charge bayonets on command.

KNOX
Brigade, fix bayonets!

(voices repeat order, etc.)

Shall the artillery lead or follow, sir?

WASHINGTON
Follow and take position at the head of every street.

KNOX
Very good, sir.

WASHINGTON
Hm--two minutes--order the troops deployed.

KNOX
Deploy your troops--prepare to charge bayonets!

(command repeated--mob noise as order is obeyed)

WASHINGTON
Keep your ears open for firing--it's nearly time.

(musketry)

KNOX
There it is, sir!

WASHINGTON
Green has started! Order the charge, Knox! And God be with us!

KNOX
Forward! Charge bayonets! Ho!

(a great roar from the mob as the charge begins)


ANNOUNCER
So Washington and his men swept into the village of Trenton, catching the Hessians totally unprepared! In an hour and a half it was all over. The disposed army of ragamuffins put the Hessians to rout! It was the first great American victory of the Revolution, and its effect was enormous. The discouraged Colonists suddenly received new heart. Hope for the cause of independence had a rebirth, and Washington, instead of fighting a losing battle alone, found himself the leader of his countrymen in fact, as well as in name! In crossing the Delaware, Washington had saved the cause of American independence!


(The end)
Henry Fisk Carlton's Play: Washington Crossing the Delaware

If you like this book please share to your friends :
NEXT BOOKS

Swan Song Swan Song

Swan Song
CHARACTERSVASILI SVIETLOVIDOFF, a comedian, 68 years oldNIKITA IVANITCH, a prompter, an old manThe Swan SongThe scene is laid on the stage of a country theatre, at night, after the play. To the right a row of rough, unpainted doors leading into the dressing-rooms. To the left and in the background the stage is encumbered with all sorts of rubbish. In the middle of the stage is an overturned stool.SVIETLOVIDOFF. (With a candle in his hand, comes out of a dressing-room and laughs) Well, well, this is funny! Here's a good joke! I fell asleep in my dressing-room when the play was
PREVIOUS BOOKS

The Masque Of Christmas The Masque Of Christmas

The Masque Of Christmas
AS IT WAS PRESENTED AT COURT, 1616.The Court being seatedEnter_ CHRISTMAS, _with two or three of the guard, attired in round hose, long stockings, a close doublet, a high-crowned hat, with a brooch, a long, thin beard, a truncheon, little ruffs, white shoes, his scarfs and garters tied cross, and his drum beaten before him.Why, gentlemen, do you know what you do? ha! would you have kept me out? Christmas, old Christmas, Christmas of London, and Captain Christmas? Pray you, let me be brought before my lord chamberlain, I'll not be answered else: _'Tis merry in hall, when beards wag all:_
NEXT 10 BOOKS | PREVIOUS 10 BOOKS | RANDOM 10 BOOKS
LEAVE A COMMENT