BECK index

GEORGE WASHINGTON
On to Victory

by Sanderson Beck

This screenplay has been published in the book GEORGE WASHINGTON: A Dramatic Series. For ordering information, please click here.

EXTERIOR VALLEY FORGE PARADE GROUND - DAY

Super:

VALLEY FORGE, MAY 1778

Troops still dressed rather poorly are marching in good spirits and fine discipline, as they are led through their maneuvers by GENERALS LAFAYETTE and KALB, while GENERALS WASHINGTON, GATES, GREENE, STIRLING, MIFFLIN, ARMSTRONG, and BARON VON STEUBEN observe them from in front on horseback. A salute of thirteen guns is delivered. COLONEL ALEXANDER HAMILTON interprets for Steuben.

HAMILTON
The guns salute the thirteen states.

WASHINGTON
Have the two treaties with France
been read to the men?

GREENE
Yes, sir, an hour ago.

HAMILTON
Baron von Steuben indicates that now
they will demonstrate a running fire of musketry.

The first line commanded by Lafayette fires in sequence from right to left, followed by the second line led by Kalb firing from left to right. The troops shout, punctuated by the salutes of cannon.

AMERICAN TROOPS
Long live the King of France!
And long live the friendly European powers!
Huzzah to the American States!

The troops march from the field to receive a gill of rum each. Washington and his staff ride off toward a banquet of cold cuts.

GREENE
Congratulations, sir.

STIRLING
This is a great day for America.

WASHINGTON
I have decided to pardon the two deserters
who were sentenced to death.

WASHINGTON (Continued)
Colonel Hamilton, see to it also that
all military prisoners of the Army are released.

HAMILTON
Yes, sir.

INT. WASHINGTON'S HEADQUARTERS AT VALLEY FORGE - DAY

Lafayette reports to Washington who greets him with a hug.

WASHINGTON
My dear Lafayette,
I saw from a hill with a spyglass
how you extricated your men
from the British attack.
A fine piece of generalship.

LAFAYETTE
Thank you, mon General.
We were very nearly caught in a snare,
because I depended on the militia
to patrol the roads on the left.

WASHINGTON
Yet you were able to cross the river in great order
and got the artillery across as the enemy arrived.

LAFAYETTE
Yes, they gave up and went back to Philadelphia.

WASHINGTON
They probably will be leaving for New York any day.

INT. BAPTIST MEETING HOUSE AT HOPEWELL - MORNING

Washington has convened a council of war at this temporary headquarters attended by Generals CHARLES LEE, Greene, WAYNE, Lafayette, Stirling, Steuben, DUPORTAIL, and KNOX. Hamilton takes the minutes.

WASHINGTON
According to our best estimates
the British number nine to ten thousand.
Our Army on this ground is 10,684;
plus twenty-four hundred Continentals and militia
are hovering around their rear.
General Benedict Arnold not yet fully recovered
from his wounds has been assigned to Philadelphia.

CHARLES LEE
Where are the British forces now?

WASHINGTON
Joseph Reed reported
their van has reached Allentown.
Considering the current situation
with our probable alliance with France,
I pose these questions to the council:
Should the Army hazard at choice a general action?
Should we initiate or invite a partial action?
Or what other measures can be taken,
with safety to this Army,
to annoy the enemy as they march?

CHARLES LEE
The British Army has never been better trained.
A general engagement at this time,
particularly since aid from the French is coming,
would not only be foolish but, in my opinion, mad.
Let the British have a bridge of gold to New York.

LAFAYETTE
With due respect to your experience, General Lee,
I think that honor requires an attack.

STEUBEN
Attack! Ya.

Both Steuben and Duportail speak rapidly in French to Hamilton who conveys their meaning.

HAMILTON
Both the Baron and General Duportail believe
that we can attack them as they move.

STIRLING
I agree with General Lee.
Why take a risk now?

KNOX
We never do well in open battle against them.

The morning light is fading fast as the room grows darker.

GREENE
Why is it getting so dark?

WASHINGTON
It is an eclipse of the sun.
I knew it was to occur
but decided to proceed
with the council of war anyway.
General Greene, light a lamp.

GREENE
Yes, sir.

LAFAYETTE
I still say we should detach a strong force
to assail their baggage train or their rear.

Greene is lighting the lamp as he speaks.

GREENE
I have two brigades to support an attack
on the English flank and rear.

WASHINGTON
We shall avoid a general engagement
but send fifteen hundred more men
to act as occasion may serve
on the enemy's left flank and rear,
where our troops are already hanging about them.
If more forces are desired for an attack,
perhaps General Lee would yield the honor
of commanding them to General Lafayette.

CHARLES LEE
Given the circumstances, I suppose so.

EXT. ROAD TO MONMOUTH COURT HOUSE - DAWN

Washington, accompanied by his aides Hamilton, RICHARD MEADE, JOHN LAURENS, and JAMES MCHENRY, is leading some troops when they are met by a MESSENGER.

MESSENGER
General Washington,
a dispatch from General Dickinson.

Washington opens and reads it quickly.

WASHINGTON
The British began to move at four o'clock.
Colonel Meade, go to General Lee and tell him
to have his five thousand men
leave their packs in the camp,
take the road, follow the enemy,
and bring on an attack.

MEADE
What if circumstances make an offensive improper?

WASHINGTON
I repeat:
he is to deliver a blow
and force the fighting.

MEADE
Yes, sir.

WASHINGTON
Colonel Hamilton,
reconnoiter the immediate country
between here and the advanced corps.

HAMILTON
Gladly, sir.

WASHINGTON
Dickinson has a thousand Jersey militia
near the advanced column.

MCHENRY
Daniel Morgan is on the enemy's eastern flank
with six hundred marksmen.

WASHINGTON
As usual, General Stirling leads the left wing,
and regardless of his staff position
I have put Nathanael Green in command of the right.

LAURENS
Sir, may I have permission to reconnoiter
in the direction of Monmouth Court House?

WASHINGTON
Yes, Colonel Laurens,.

EXT. ROAD TO MONMOUTH COURT HOUSE - NOON

On a very hot day Washington is leading his troops forward when the booming sound of artillery is heard from ahead of them four or five times.

WASHINGTON
Colonel Meade,
go forward and see what is occurring.

MEADE
Yes, sir.

MAJOR JOHN CLARK rides up to Washington.

CLARK
General Washington,
I am on my way to General Lee.
Is there any message you wish to convey to him?

WASHINGTON
Tell him to annoy the enemy
as much as in his power,
but at the same time proceed with caution
and take care the enemy
doesn't draw him into a scrape.

CLARK
Yes, sir, I will tell him.

Alexander Hamilton coming from the front rides up to Washington.

HAMILTON
Sir, from observing our van and the enemy's rear,
I imagine they will soon engage.
I have sensed British troops on our right
and so urged General Lafayette to counteract.
Would it not be well to turn Greene's regiments
to the South also to cover our right flank?

While Washington is considering this, General Knox rides up to him from the front.

KNOX
General, there is confusion among Lee's troops.
We must take precautions
against a possible reverse.

HAMILTON
Sir, we need to do more
than support Lee from the rear.
I suggest a detachment
take that wood road to the right.

WASHINGTON
Yes, you are right.
Colonel McHenry, tell General Greene
that when his leading Regiment
comes to Tennent's Church,
they are to file off to the South
on the Monmouth road.

MCHENRY
Yes, sir.

WASHINGTON
It is still quiet;
the battle must not have begun.

An AMERICAN CIVILIAN joins the group of officers, including aides TILGHMAN, HARRISON, and FITZGERALD.

HARRISON
What news?

AMERICAN CIVILIAN
I heard our people are retreating.

TILGHMAN
Who told you that?

The civilian points to a fifer who is limping down the road toward them.

AMERICAN CIVILIAN
That man there.

Having heard this last part, Washington orders his aides, who bring the FIFER to him.

WASHINGTON
Bring that fellow here.
Are you in the Army?

FIFER
Yes, sir, a fifer.

WASHINGTON
Why are you coming this way?

FIFER
The Continentals are retreating.

WASHINGTON (Angrily)
That's impossible.
If you tell anyone that again,
I'll have you whipped.
Colonel Tilghman,
guard this man with a light horseman
to see that he does not spread
this false and dangerous report.

TILGHMAN
Yes, sir.

Washington rides forward and is met by several soldiers from the East.

WASHINGTON
Who are these men?
Where are you coming from?
Are you soldiers?

CORPORAL
Yes, sir, the whole force in front is retreating.

HARRISON
Shall I go reconnoiter, sir?

WASHINGTON
Yes, by all means,
and take Colonel Fitzgerald.

As Washington continues forward, more and more retreating soldiers appear on the road ahead of him. Washington questions COLONEL SHREVE.

WASHINGTON (Cont'd.)
What is the meaning of this retreat?

SHREVE (smiling)
I don't know, sir; I am retiring by order.
There has been little fighting
except for a small skirmish with their cavalry.

WASHINGTON
How did that go?

SHREVE
The enemy was repulsed.

WASHINGTON
March your men over that morass to the hill
where they can refresh themselves.

SHREVE
Yes, sir.

Washington gallops forward past this retreating regiment. At its rear he meets MAJOR HOWARD.

WASHINGTON
Major, what is the reason for this retreat?

HOWARD
No good reason that I know.
I never saw the like of it.

NEW JERSEY CAPTAIN
By God, we are flying from a shadow.

Washington continues riding forward until he sees General Charles Lee.

WASHINGTON (Sternly)
General Lee, what is the meaning of all this?

CHARLES LEE (Disconcerted)
Sir?

WASHINGTON (Vehemently)
I desire to know the meaning
of this disorder and confusion.

CHARLES LEE (Angrily)
It's not confusion.

WASHINGTON (Angrily)
Not confusion! Are you blind?!
Explain yourself, sir.

CHARLES LEE
We had contradictory intelligence.
Orders were disobeyed by meddlers and blunderers.
I am not disposed to beard the entire British Army
with our troops in this situation.

WASHINGTON
I have certain information that
it was merely a strong covering party.

CHARLES LEE
That may be, but it was stronger than mine,
and I did not think it proper to run such a risk.

WASHINGTON
I am very sorry that you undertook the command,
unless you meant to fight the enemy.

CHARLES LEE
Sir, I did not think it prudent
to bring on a general engagement.
These troops are not able
to meet British Grenadiers.

WASHINGTON
Sir, they are able, and by God they shall do it.
Whatever your opinion may have been,
I expected my orders to be obeyed.

Washington rides off to the front where all is in confusion, but he finds his aide Harrison.

HARRISON
The enemy is pressing hard
and will be here in fifteen minutes.

Washington looks around as he wonders what to do.

WASHINGTON
Is it possible to defend this position?

TILGHMAN
Sir, Colonel David Rhea of the Fourth New Jersey
passed by here a few minutes ago,
and I heard him say that he knew this district
and that it is good military ground.
If you want him, he will help.

WASHINGTON
Yes, send for him.

TILGHMAN
Yes, sir.

Colonel Tilghman rides off, as Washington looks around the area. Seeing a nearby hedge that is impassable, he gestures toward it as he gives orders.

WASHINGTON
Men, post yourselves behind that barrier.

The troops are rallying in this area, when Tilghman returns with LT. COLONEL RHEA.

TILGHMAN
Sir, this is David Rhea.

WASHINGTON
Tell me, is this land defensible?

RHEA
Yes, sir, I think so.
Where we stand is part of a long elevation,
and in front is a protective swamp.
On the left you will find an eminence of strength,
and the woods in the rear will cover supports.

WASHINGTON
Good.
Then we shall form up on this ground.

WAYNE
General Washington, my Brigade is fresh
and could hold off the approaching enemy.

WASHINGTON
Thank you, General Wayne, that should give us
the time we need to set up artillery on this hill.

General Wayne rides off, while Washington gives orders to his aides.

WASHINGTON (Cont'd.)
Order Colonels Stewart and Ramsey
to set up batteries in the woods on the left.
Post Colonel Oswald's fieldpieces on the heights.
Let Stirling and Greene take their positions
as best they can on the left and right.

Washington rides back to Charles Lee where he is joined by Hamilton riding up in great heat, as the artillery begins to fire and stop the British advance.

WASHINGTON
Will you retain the command on this height, or not?
If you will, I will return to the main body,
and have it formed on the next height.

CHARLES LEE
It is equal to me where I command.

WASHINGTON
I expect you will take proper means
for checking the enemy.

CHARLES LEE
Your orders shall be obeyed.
I will do everything in my power,
and your Excellency may rely upon it that
I will myself be one of the last men off the field.

As Washington rides off, Hamilton shouts to Lee.

HAMILTON
I will stay here with you, my dear General,
and die with you!
Let us all die rather than retreat!

EXT. BATTLEFIELD NEAR MONMOUTH ROAD - FIVE P.M.

Harrison reports to Washington.

HARRISON
Sir, General Lee brought his men off in good order
and was the last to retire from the advanced position.

WASHINGTON
They must be tired from this heat.
Have them repair to the rear at Englishtown.
Assemble there all the scattered fugitives.

HARRISON
Stirling and Greene are holding the wings,
and Wayne drove the British back across the swamp.

WASHINGTON
Send a message to Baron von Steuben to bring up
reinforcements to pursue the retreating enemy.
Let Woodford take his Regiments on the right
and Poor his North Carolina Brigade on the left.

HARRISON
Yes, sir.

EXT. BATTLEFIELD NEAR MONMOUTH ROAD - NIGHT

Washington and Lafayette lay down on their cloaks under a tree.

LAFAYETTE
The men are ordered to lie on their arms.

WASHINGTON
We might as well sleep here.
That great veteran Lee almost ruined us today.

LAFAYETTE
But you saved the day, sir, rallying the men.

WASHINGTON
Steuben's training has made a big difference.
These Americans will fight if they are led properly.
Tomorrow we will see what we can do.

EXT. BATTLEFIELD NEAR MONMOUTH ROAD - DAWN

Hamilton reports to Washington.

HAMILTON
General Washington, the enemy is gone.
The British left last night so silently
that we didn't even know it.
We are counting the dead they left behind;
there must be more than two hundred.
What are the orders for today, sir?

WASHINGTON
I would like to press on after them,
but I am afraid that with this heat
the men are too tired for such a pursuit.
I don't want men dying again today of heat
in a pursuit that is impracticable and fruitless.
Today we will find a good camp and rest.

HAMILTON
Very good, sir.

INT. WASHINGTON'S HEADQUARTERS AT ENGLISHTOWN - DAY

Harrison is writing at a desk, as Washington has been dictating.

WASHINGTON
General Lee writes that he wants a court martial.
He shall have his wish.
Read those charges back to me.

HARRISON (Reading from his paper)
"First: For disobedience of orders,
in not attacking the enemy on the 28th of June,
agreeable to repeated instructions.
Secondly: For misbehavior before the enemy
on the same day, by making unnecessary,
disorderly and shameful retreat.
Thirdly: For disrespect to the Commander-in-Chief,
in two letters dated the 1st of July
and the 28th of June.

WASHINGTON
Neither one of his letters had the correct date.

ADJUTANT GENERAL COLONEL SCAMMELL comes in wearing a sword and sash.

SCAMMELL
General, you wanted me here with a sword and sash.

WASHINGTON
Yes, Colonel Scammell, as Adjutant General,
you are to take these charges to General Lee
and place him under arrest.

SCAMMELL
Yes, sir.

Washington hands him the paper, and Scammell goes out.

INT. WASHINGTON'S HEADQUARTERS AT WALLACE HOUSE - DAY

Washington has been headquartered in Middlebrook for several months; it is now April. Hamilton introduces French Minister GERARD and unofficial Spanish agent DON JUAN MIRALLES to Washington.

HAMILTON
Sir, this is the French Minister, Monsieur Gerard,
and this is a gentleman from Spain, Don Juan Miralles.

WASHINGTON
Your Excellencies.

GERARD
It is an honor to meet the famous George Washington.
I have a confidential message from Admiral d'Estaing.

WASHINGTON
I am most eager to hear from our ally.

GERARD
After winter operations in the West Indies are ended,
his ships are coming to the mouth of the Delaware,
and they may go to conquer Halifax and Newfoundland.
The Admiral wishes to know whether these posts,
if seized, could be garrisoned by your troops,
and what aid Congress and you could give for this.

WASHINGTON
I cannot use militia to hold northern posts,
because they are temporary and cannot be trusted.
I would be forced to use the Continentals,
and to detach them from our feeble Army
would risk the British overrunning the middle States.
Nevertheless I do want to cooperate with your Navy
as much as is in my power to do so.
I regret the remarks made by General Sullivan
during the attempt on Rhode Island last summer.
It still might be better to concentrate our forces
on defeating the British there and in New York,
if the French fleet is superior to the British.

GERARD
Are you then against helping us in Canada?

WASHINGTON
Not entirely, but I have my doubts.
I must have a guarantee of French Naval superiority
before I could make such a heavy outlay of troops.

GERARD
I am afraid I cannot make such a guarantee.

WASHINGTON
We also need troops to attack the Indians,
which the British have aroused against us.
I would suggest that Admiral d'Estaing's forces
be used in the liberation of Georgia,
which could be accomplished quickly;
then he could sail to the Delaware.

GERARD
I will convey your thoughts to the Admiral.

WASHINGTON
Thank you, minister.

The two foreign diplomats go out.

HAMILTON
What do you think our prospects are, sir?

WASHINGTON
The Army is in much better shape this year,
since food and clothing are better supplied
than they were the previous winter at Valley Forge.
But somehow our improved situation
has caused Congress to become complacent.

HAMILTON
Yes, the lack of money has caused great trouble.

WASHINGTON
I barely was able to stop that mutiny in New Jersey.
Yet I think we could have ended the war last autumn
if the enemy had not been encouraged by
all the speculation and depreciation of the currency
along with the constant divisions of our people.

HAMILTON
There are bound to be divisions in a democracy.

WASHINGTON
At least the Articles of Confederation
are being ratified by most of the States.

HAMILTON
What about Canada, sir?

WASHINGTON
I opposed General Lafayette's plan to invade it.
Canada would give France extensive territory
with boundless supplies, independent ports,
commerce with the Indians, perhaps a monopoly,
trade with Newfoundland, and training for seamen,
which would make them
a formidable maritime power.
We are grateful to France for their aid,
but I would like to limit our national obligations.
The United States should ask for no assistance
that is not indispensable.
We must think of the future.

INT. WASHINGTON'S HEADQUARTERS AT NEW WINDSOR - DAY

Washington is talking with General Anthony Wayne.

WASHINGTON
As I'm sure you know, General Wayne,
the British have fortified
Stony Point on the Hudson.

WAYNE
Yes, sir, I heard.

WASHINGTON
I think we could use a victory right now,
since Sir Clinton's ravages in Connecticut.
What if I were to propose to you
that you storm Stony Point?

WAYNE
General, I'll storm hell, if you will only plan it.

WASHINGTON
I do have a plan, but it requires the utmost secrecy.
Naturally the attack will be in the dark.

WAYNE
Just before dawn, sir, as usual?

WASHINGTON
No, that is when they will be most alert.
For complete surprise I suggest midnight.
Take one or two hundred chosen men and officers.
Every sentry and guard must be secured quietly.
Use only bayonets with muskets unloaded.
Let the main body follow the forlorn hope parties
but at a distance for support and reinforcements
and to bring them off in case of failure.

WAYNE
We will not fail, sir.

WASHINGTON
Have them all wear white cockades or feathers
so that they can identify each other
and use a watchword to distinguish from the enemy.
As soon as you have possessed Stony Point,
turn its guns on the ships and Fort Lafayette.
I will send a detachment down from West Point
by Peerskill to join in attacking that fort
as soon as your cannonade begins.

WAYNE
Very good. Anything else, sir?

WASHINGTON
Remind the men to take prisoners
rather than kill those who surrender.

WAYNE
Yes, sir.

INT. WASHINGTON'S HEADQUARTERS AT NEW WINDSOR - MORNING

Washington is talking with aides Hamilton and Harrison when CAPTAIN BENJAMIN FISHBOURNE comes in with a dispatch.

FISHBOURNE
General Washington,
this dispatch was handed to me
personally by General Wayne.

WASHINGTON (Reading it)
This is great!

HAMILTON
What does it say, for God's sake?

WASHINGTON (Reading)
"Dear General:
This fort & Garrison with Colonel Johnston are ours.
Our Officers & Men behaved like men
who are determined to be free.
Yours most Sincerely, Anthony Wayne."
Were the casualties heavy?

FISHBOURNE
No, very inconsiderable.
General Wayne was wounded
in the face by a musketball,
but he continued into the works with the troops.
Most of the twenty-two men in the forlorn hope
attacking party were killed or wounded,
but almost no others were killed on our side.

WASHINGTON
What about the British garrison?

FISHBOURNE
Some of them were killed, but most,
about five hundred I'd say, were taken prisoner.
When the redcoats put up their hands,
their lives were spared.

WASHINGTON
This is great news.
Did we take over the cannon intact?

FISHBOURNE
Yes, sir, when I was leaving there
I saw them firing at the fort across the river.

WASHINGTON
Colonel Harrison, draft a dispatch to Congress.

HARRISON
Yes, sir.

WASHINGTON
Colonel Hamilton, direct General Robert Howe
to hasten to the left bank of the Hudson
to take command of the attack on Fort Lafayette.

HAMILTON
Right away, sir.

INT. WASHINGTON'S HEADQUARTERS AT NEW WINDSOR - DAY

Washington is meeting with MAJOR HENRY LEE.

HENRY LEE
I have reconnoitered Powles Hook, sir;
Major Sutherland has shown a want of vigilance.
We could surprise the fort at night
and strike a blow within cannonshot of New York.

WASHINGTON
The idea appeals to me,
but what are the dangers?

HENRY LEE
The approaches are difficult across a salt marsh,
and it is strongly fortified,
but we could bring off many cannon
as was done at Stony Point.

WASHINGTON
Yes, but we had to evacuate Stony Point;
in this case you must retreat immediately,
because of the British forces in New York.
Boats must be there to get you across the Hackensack.
How many men do you think you need?

HENRY LEE
We can carry it off with four hundred, sir.

WASHINGTON
I will approve the project with this stipulation:
that if the surprise is lost,
the effort must be abandoned.
Also you must get the approval of General Stirling.

HENRY LEE
Yes, sir.

INT. WASHINGTON'S HEADQUARTERS AT WEST POINT - DAY

Washington is talking with Hamilton.

WASHINGTON
I have been compelled to act as Clothier General.

HAMILTON
If we do not pay more attention
to blankets, shirts and shoes,
next winter could be like Valley Forge again.

WASHINGTON
Many of our poor fellows
have been two years in service
and never had a blanket to this day.

HAMILTON
The currency has depreciated to forty on one,
and it is getting worse every day.
Continental dollars will soon be worthless.

WASHINGTON
At least General Sullivan defeated a force
of Indians, British and Loyalists at Newton.

Harrison comes in.

HARRISON
General, Major Henry Lee is here.

WASHINGTON
Good. Send him in.

Harrison goes out, and Henry Lee comes in.

HENRY LEE
You called for me, sir.

WASHINGTON
Yes. Congratulations on your vindication
by the court martial on the Powles Hook expedition.
Though Gist resented
your commanding senior officers,
it did not seem to bother Jonathan Clark.
When the boats were not at Secaucus,
you led a long heroic march in retreat.
Best of all you captured one hundred fifty-nine,
while losing only two dead and three wounded.
The increase of confidence which the Army derives
from this affair and that of Stony Point,
though great, is not among the least
of the advantages resulting from these events.

HENRY LEE
I am grateful for the opportunity to serve.

WASHINGTON
I want you to take this dispatch to the Jersey coast
so that you can hand it to Admiral d'Estaing
as soon as the French fleet arrives.
Tell General Stirling to make ready on the Hudson
but enjoin him to maintain complete secrecy,
because if reports of Clinton's move are not true
we should appear ridiculous
to make preparations without reason.
Tell d'Estaing that if the French could remain
until ice closes the harbor of New York,
I could put twenty-five thousand men in the field;
but I must have the assurance of French aid
to justify the expense and hazard of the enterprise.

HENRY LEE
Very good, sir.

INT. WASHINGTON'S HEADQUARTERS AT MORRISTOWN - DAY

Washington, COMMISSARY BLAINE, and Quartermaster Greene are meeting with the Congressional Committee of PHILIP SCHUYLER, JOHN MATHEWS, and NATHANIEL PEABODY.

SCHUYLER
Congress has sent us to find out
if things are as miserable
as your letters indicate.

MATHEWS
From what we have seen of the winter camp,
conditions are even worse than that.

PEABODY
I never would have believed it was possible.

WASHINGTON
I am glad my old friend, General Schuyler,
is in charge of this investigation.
Maybe at last Congress will get us what we need.

SCHUYLER
We will certainly do what we can, General.

GREENE
The Army has not been paid for five months.
Every department is destitute of money and credit.

BLAINE
We rarely have provisions for more than six days,
and many days the men have had to go without meat;
on some other days they go without bread.
Half rations are the usual fare.

SCHUYLER
Have there been desertions or mutinies?

WASHINGTON
So far the men have borne their distress
with a firmness and patience never exceeded,
and every commendation is due to the officers
for encouraging them by exhortation and example.
The have suffered equally with the men,
and relative to their situations, rather more.

BLAINE
Many officers have lived on bread and cheese
rather than take any of the scanty allowance of meat.

GREENE
It was a very cold winter, worse than Valley Forge.

MATHEWS
From those we talked to, their patience is exhausted.

GREENE
The hardships they have been driven to sustain,
have soured their tempers
and produced a spirit of discontent
which begins to display itself
under a complexion of the most alarming hue.

WASHINGTON
Voluntary enlistment is failing,
and states are delayed in filling their quotas.
We don't have the shoes or clothing
to be able to march to South Carolina,
even if we had the troops.

SCHUYLER
Do you think that Charleston will fall
now that Clinton has sent troops there?

WASHINGTON
I expect to hear of it any day,
although General Lincoln is trying to hold on.
General Sullivan had to resign from ill health.
McDougall suffers from a stone in the bladder
and needs a quiet post, as does Benedict Arnold.
Putnam is on leave and old.
General Gates declined the post
I offered him on the Hudson River
and went home to his wife
in Virginia for the winter.
To top it off a clergyman spread a story
that Hamilton wants Congress overthrown
and supreme power vested in me.
That is the most ridiculous thing I ever heard.

SCHUYLER
Congress is debating how much power to give you,
because we value your experience so much.

WASHINGTON
I don't want power; I want support!
Believe me, if our cause wasn't so important,
I would gladly retire to my plantation.

GREENE
I want Congress to investigate my department,
or I will resign as Quartermaster General.

SCHUYLER
We will convey all your concerns to Congress.

INT. WASHINGTON'S HEADQUARTERS AT MORRISTOWN - DAY

Lafayette comes in and is greeted by Washington with an embrace.

WASHINGTON
My dear Marquis, welcome back to America!

LAFAYETTE
Thank you, mon General.
The news I bring is very good.
Six French ships with six thousand troops
have left France and will be at Rhode Island in June.

WASHINGTON
And what is to be their disposition?

LAFAYETTE
They are to participate in joint operations with you
for the capture of New York and its defenders.

WASHINGTON
My dear Lafayette, this is great news!
We have much work to do.
Now if we can only find the provisions we need.

EXT. MORRISTOWN CAMP PARADE GROUND - DUSK

Connecticut soldiers are leaving the parade grounds, when a PRIVATE shouts a complaint.

PRIVATE
Ten days without meat,
parading around all day.
When will all this end?!

ADJUTANT
Soldier, keep your mouth shut!

PRIVATE
Who will parade with me?

The Eighth Regiment falls in and forms, followed by the Fourth Connecticut. While they are marching around aimlessly, a CONNECTICUT MAJOR speaks quietly to his LIEUTENANT.

CONNECTICUT MAJOR
Hurry over to the camp
of the Third and Sixth Regiments
and tell their officers
to parade the men without arms,
lest they be aroused to mutiny also.

LIEUTENANT
Yes, sir.

The Lieutenant crosses a brook and speaks to COLONEL MEIGS, who orders the men to parade. Then a guard is formed between the unarmed men parading and their muskets. When the men realize why they are parading, some of them challenge Colonel Meigs.

CONNECTICUT SOLDIER #1
The officers are afraid of a mutiny.

CONNECTICUT SOLDIER #2
The British are offering rewards to deserters.

A struggle over the arms develops, and Col. Meigs is stabbed with a bayonet. This is observed by the parading Fourth and Eighth Regiments who are armed. The Major speaks to the Fourth and Eighth Regiments.

CONNECTICUT MAJOR
Soldiers, remember yourselves.
Mutiny will not solve our problems.
Now march back to camp.

Reluctantly they start back to their camp.

REBELLIOUS SOLDIER
Halt in front!

Some of the officers seize the rebellious soldier, but they are quickly challenged by so many bayonets that they have to let him go.

CONNECTICUT CAPTAIN
Please, lay down your arms
and go back to camp.
We will not arrest this man.

ADJUTANT
This is not how soldiers behave.
You must obey orders and return to camp.

Meanwhile a Pennsylvania Regiment has surrounded the Connecticut troops and their camp. Pennsylvania COLONEL WALTER STEWART addresses the mutineers.

STEWART
We know how you are suffering for our cause,
and we will do everything we can to help you;
but present your complaints in a disciplined way.

Many of the mutineers return to camp, but some wander around in the increasing darkness.

INT. WASHINGTON'S HEADQUARTERS AT MORRISTOWN - NIGHT

Tilghman is talking with Washington.

TILGHMAN
The Connecticut mutineers have returned to camp.
A few of them came out again later,
and they have been put under arrest.

WASHINGTON
A British handbill inviting desertion
was found in some of the camps.
A general release of prisoners is set for May 30th.
I want all of these offenders pardoned
except those known to have used violence.
I cannot blame men who are hungry.

TILGHMAN
Yes, sir.

INT. SMITH HOME AT KING'S FERRY - AFTERNOON

Washington, Hamilton, Lafayette, McHenry, Knox, CAPTAIN SAMUEL SHAW, and Tilghman are dining with BENEDICT ARNOLD, and Arnold's aides MAJOR DAVID FRANKS and LT. COLONEL VARICK.

WASHINGTON
I was surprised
you rejected the cavalry command
and chose the rather inactive post at West Point.
The name Benedict Arnold
is known for daring exploits.

ARNOLD
The wound in my leg still is bothering me, sir.
Besides, the Army does not have the supplies
to engage the British anywhere,
let alone New York.

WASHINGTON
Yes, but I have great hopes for the meeting
I'm going to in Hartford
with Rochambeau and Ternay.

ARNOLD
Did you read the letter
I got from Beverly Robinson?

WASHINGTON
Yes, actually he is an old friend of mine,
but now he is the most prominent loyalist in New York.
By no means should you agree to meet with him;
any conference between you could be misunderstood.

ARNOLD
Then I will drop the matter.
I heard that General Gates was totally defeated
by Cornwallis in the Carolinas.

WASHINGTON
Yes, they fled one hundred eighty miles
before he was even able to file a report.

ARNOLD
General Gates never was very good at reporting.

WASHINGTON
That's true.
On my return I would like to
inspect your fortifications at West Point.
I have heard that you are doing good things there.

ARNOLD
I am always at your service, sir.
My wife should be here when you return.

WASHINGTON
Then that will be charming,
and I'm sure these young officers will be pleased.

EXT. ROAD NEAR WEST POINT - MORNING

Washington, Knox, Lafayette, McHenry, Hamilton, Shaw, and Tilghman are riding down the road, when Washington turns down a road leading to the banks of the Hudson River. When Lafayette speaks, they all stop for a brief conference.

LAFAYETTE
Sir, that is not the road to General Arnold's house.
You know Mrs. Arnold will have breakfast waiting.

WASHINGTON
Ah, Marquis, you young men
are all in love with Mrs. Arnold.
I see you are eager
to be with her as soon as possible.
Go you and breakfast with her
and tell her not to wait for me.
I must ride down and examine
the redoubts on this side of the river,
but will be with her shortly.

Lafayette and Knox ride over to Washington's road.

LAFAYETTE
Sir, I will accompany you on the inspection.
Let my aide Major McHenry
carry your apology to Mrs. Arnold.

WASHINGTON
Good, and Colonel Hamilton, you go that way too.

HAMILTON
Gladly, sir.

KNOX
Captain Shaw, you may also go with them.

SHAW
Thank you, General Knox.

McHenry, Shaw, and Hamilton take that road, while the others go with Washington.

INT. SMITH HOME AT KING'S FERRY - MORNING

Hamilton, McHenry, and Shaw are having breakfast with Arnold, the attractive MRS. ARNOLD, Franks, and Varick. A knock on the door is heard. Varick gets up to answer it and brings back a letter to Arnold.

VARICK
General Arnold,
it is an urgent message for you.

Arnold opens the letter and reads bitter news but contains his emotions. He orders his aide and then beckons to his wife.

ARNOLD
Major Franks, saddle a horse for me.

FRANKS
Yes, sir.

ARNOLD
Dear, may I speak to you upstairs?

MRS. ARNOLD
Certainly.

Mrs. Arnold gets up from the table and follows her husband up the stairs.

INT. SMITH HOME UPSTAIRS BEDROOM - DAY

Arnold speaks confidentially to his wife.

ARNOLD
Major Andre has been captured as a spy;
they found several incriminating documents on him.
I am lost and must flee this moment for my life.

Mrs. Arnold faints, falling on the floor. Arnold sees her fall, but rushes out of the room.

INT. SMITH HOME AT KING'S FERRY - DAY

Arnold rushes down the stairs and out the door.

ARNOLD
Colonel Hamilton, I must go to the garrison.

VARICK
I am feeling sick myself and must retire.

He gets up and leaves the room.

HAMILTON
Is Mrs. Arnold coming back?
What is going on here?

EXT. FORTIFICATION AT WEST POINT - AFTERNOON

Washington and others are inspecting the fort, escorted by COLONEL JOHN LAMB.

LAMB
It is most unaccountable, sir.
I have not seen General Arnold for two days.

WASHINGTON
I don't understand why he has not met me
either at his house or here at the fort.

MCHENRY
He seemed rather upset by a message
he received at his house this morning, sir.

WASHINGTON
He should have been here to inform me
as to the exact condition of the defenses.
I have noticed many irregularities;
the places where the enemy is most likely to assail
seem to be in the most feeble condition.
Let us go back to the house again.
Perhaps we'll find him there.

INT. SMITH HOME AT KING'S FERRY - AFTERNOON

Washington has just come in.

WASHINGTON
Is General Arnold here?

FRANK
No, sir, not yet.

WASHINGTON
Where is Mrs. Arnold?

FRANK
She is still upstairs.

WASHINGTON
I am sorry to hear that.

Washington goes into his bedroom on the main floor, followed by Hamilton. There Hamilton hands him a package of documents.

HAMILTON
Sir, these arrived while you were gone.

Washington opens the package and looks at the first paper in astonishment.

WASHINGTON
Call in the Marquis.

Hamilton goes out, while Washington looks at the papers. When Hamilton returns with Lafayette, Washington is trembling and has tears in his eyes.

LAFAYETTE
What is it, mon General?

WASHINGTON
Arnold has betrayed us.

LAFAYETTE
Is that possible?
How?

WASHINGTON
He was plotting to give West Point up to the enemy.

LAFAYETTE
Mon Dieu!

HAMILTON
West Point is the most key installation we have.

Hamilton and Lafayette begin to pour through the papers.

WASHINGTON
Whom can we trust now?

HAMILTON
He was working with Major Andre,
the Adjutant General of the British Army.
This paper here says that the man captured
is not John Anderson but Major Andre himself.

WASHINGTON
Then we have been saved by an act of providence.
Colonel Hamilton, you must go at once with orders
that Arnold's barge is not to be allowed to escape.

HAMILTON
Yes, sir.

He goes out.

WASHINGTON (To Lafayette)
West Point must be put immediately on full alert.
Tell Greene to bring in his nearest division.

LAFAYETTE
Oui, mon General.

WASHINGTON
Meanwhile I will go into dinner
as though nothing had happened.
We must keep our knowledge of this plot
secret from those in this house.

INT. SMITH HOME UPSTAIRS BEDROOM - EVENING

Varick leads Washington into the bedroom where Mrs. Arnold is in a very disheveled condition while holding her baby in her arms.

VARICK
She has urgently asked to see you, sir.
Here is General Washington.

Mrs. Arnold looks at him in fright and hysteria.

MRS. ARNOLD
No, that is not General Washington.
He has come here to help you kill my baby.
My husband is gone and will never come back.
The evil ones put hot irons on his head.

WASHINGTON
Peggy?
What is the matter?

MRS. ARNOLD
I don't know you.
Go away!

Washington and Varick leave the room.

EXT. SMITH HOME AT KING'S FERRY - NIGHT

Washington is standing on the porch when some officers bring in JOSHUA HETT SMITH under arrest.

TILGHMAN
This man Smith knows the story.

WASHINGTON
He should; this is his house.

Washington gives Smith a stern look as they go in.

INT. SMITH HOME AT KING'S FERRY - NIGHT

Washington, Lafayette, Knox, and Hamilton are interrogating Smith.

HAMILTON
We know that Arnold has gone aboard the Vulture.
How did he meet with Andre?

SMITH
I took a letter to Beverly Robinson on the Vulture.
Anderson came back with me to this house.
I didn't know he was Major Andre.
I took him back across the ferry at Stony Point
and was to escort him by land to White Plains.
I thought I was helping to get information
that General Arnold could use.

HAMILTON
Why didn't you row him back to the Vulture?

SMITH
I had a terrible fever and couldn't arrange a boat.

HAMILTON
But if you were so sick,
how could you escort him to White Plains?

Smith is only able to shake his head.

INT. SMITH HOME UPSTAIRS BEDROOM - MORNING

Mrs. Arnold is in bed attempting to cajole and persuade Lafayette and Hamilton.

MRS. ARNOLD
I am afraid of what the public will do to me,
because of my husband's treason.
Please sirs,
you must allow me to go to Philadelphia.

DISSOLVE TO:

INT. SMITH HOME AT KING'S FERRY - DAY

Washington is consulting with Lafayette and Hamilton.

HAMILTON
She clearly has recovered her senses, sir.

WASHINGTON
I see no reason why Mrs. Arnold must be held here.

LAFAYETTE
Do you wish to question Major Andre
now that we have him here?

WASHINGTON
No, I have no interest in meeting such a scoundrel,
but I do want to know
how he answers our questions.
A Board of Officers will try his case.

INT. WASHINGTON'S HEADQUARTERS AT WEST POINT - DAY

Tilghman is consulting with Washington.

TILGHMAN
General Clinton pleads that you spare the life
of Major Andre as a personal favor to him, sir.

WASHINGTON
Yes, I know, and Major Andre has written to me
asking only that he not die on a gibbet;
but the sentence of the board stands,
and he is to be hanged today at one o'clock,
even as Nathan Hale was hanged as a spy
after the battle of Long Island.

TILGHMAN
General Arnold must be undergoing
the torments of a mental hell.

WASHINGTON
I don't think so.
He wants feeling.
He seems to have been so hackneyed in villainy
and so lost to all sense of honor and shame
that while his faculties will enable him
to continue his sordid pursuits,
there will be no time for remorse.

TILGHMAN
The British sent another 3,000 men to Carolina.
Some southern Delegates in Congress have asked
that Greene be assigned the southern command.

WASHINGTON
Yes, I will nominate Greene to the Congress;
and I'll give him Steuben
and Harry Lee for support.
If Congress does not do better at providing money,
this is going to be a very tough winter.

EXT. WASHINGTON'S HEADQUARTERS AT WINDSOR - WINTER DAY

Major Fishbourne rides up to the house that is carefully guarded, shows a pass, and goes in.

INT. WASHINGTON'S HEADQUARTERS AT WINDSOR - DAY

Washington is talking with Fishbourne.

WASHINGTON
How many of the Pennsylvania line
are in this mutiny?

FISHBOURNE
About half, sir, except the officers of course,
who are attempting to divide them
in their determination to revolt.

WASHINGTON
When did it start?

FISHBOURNE
Last night at nine o'clock,
and they have taken officers' horses
to haul cannon and pillage the stores.
They say they are marching to Philadelphia.
General Wayne has sent a warning
for Congress to leave the city.

WASHINGTON
Colonel Hamilton,
call in the commanding officers.
I want to know the temper of the troops.

HAMILTON
Yes, sir.

DISSOLVE TO:

Washington is giving some letters to General Knox.

WASHINGTON
General Knox, you are to deliver these letters
in person to the Governors of the eastern states.
Emphasize to them that unless three months' pay
is forthcoming in money that is of some value,
and ways and means are found of clothing the men
and feeding them more regularly,
the worst that can befall us may be expected.

KNOX
I will tell them, sir.

Knox goes out.

HAMILTON
The letter from General Wayne indicates that
the sergeants in charge of the mutiny
are negotiating with the Governor and his council.

WASHINGTON
With the civilian authorities involved,
it seems my presence is not needed there.
Organize a council of war at West Point.

HAMILTON
Yes, sir.

WASHINGTON
Discipline must be firm,
or these mutinies may spread down the line.

DISSOLVE TO:

Colonel Shreve is reporting to Washington.

SHREVE
The Jersey troops have mutinied at Pompton
and are marching toward Trenton.
They lately received a part of their pay,
and most of them are much disguised with liquor.

WASHINGTON
This comes from being too lenient with the others.
Do not let them negotiate with the civil authority.
Collect all those of your Regiments
who have enough virtue to resist
the pernicious example of their associates,
and compel the revolting soldiers to return to duty.

SHREVE
Yes, sir.

WASHINGTON
Colonel Hamilton, tell General Heath at West Point
to pick five hundred of the most robust
and best clothed men in the garrison
and place them under proper officers at once.
I will be there to inspect them tomorrow morning.
Also assemble the Jersey militia.

HAMILTON
Yes, sir.

INT. WEST POINT HEADQUARTERS - MORNING

Washington is instructing General Robert Howe.

WASHINGTON
General Howe, the object of this detachment is
to compel the mutineers to unconditional submission.
I desire that you grant no terms
while they have arms in their hands in resistance.
I leave it to your discretion how to bring about
the surrender of the revolting troops;
but when you do so, you are to instantly execute
a few of the most active and incendiary leaders.
Is that understood?

ROBERT HOWE
Yes, sir.

EXT. JERSEY CAMP NEAR RINGWOOD - SNOWY DAY

LT. COL. FRANCIS BARBER reports to General Robert Howe.

BARBER
General, some men are refusing
to parade without arms
until they know what conditions are being offered.

Howe speaks to LT. COL. EBENEZER SPROUT.

ROBERT HOWE
Colonel Sprout, advance your troops and cannon.

SPROUT
Yes, sir.

ROBERT HOWE
Colonel Barber, send word to the mutineers
that they have five minutes
to comply with your orders.

BARBER
Yes, sir.

DISSOLVE TO:

Barber has given Robert Howe a list of names.

ROBERT HOWE
The three leaders convicted by the court martial
are to be shot
by the twelve conspirators on this list.

BARBER
Yes, sir.

INT. WASHINGTON'S HEADQUARTERS AT NEW WINDSOR - DAY

Washington is talking with Hamilton, Harrison, and Tilghman.

HAMILTON
The first two were executed by the mutineers,
but it seems that the third leader had been trying
to persuade the mutineers to give up.

WASHINGTON
Then I agree he is to be pardoned.
The important thing is discipline has been maintained,
and there have been no more mutinies since then.
I want you to convey in the General Orders that
we are sensible of the Army's sufferings
and have left no expedient unessayed to relieve them.
We began a contest for liberty and independence
ill provided with the means for war,
relying on our patriotism to supply the deficiency.
We expected to encounter many wants and distresses,
and we should not shrink from them when they happen
nor fly in the face of law to procure redress.
No doubt the public will do ample justice
to the men fighting and suffering in its defense;
but it is our duty to bear present evils.

INT. WASHINGTON'S HEADQUARTERS AT NEW WINDSOR - DAY

Hamilton is going down the stairs when he meets Washington climbing them.

WASHINGTON
I need you in my office.

HAMILTON
Yes, sir, I will be there immediately.

Hamilton continues down the stairs and goes to deliver a letter to Tilghman.

HAMILTON
Tench, this letter is for Commissary Blaine.

TILGHMAN
Thank you, Alex.

Hamilton heads back toward the stairs, but is stopped by Lafayette.

LAFAYETTE
Oh Hamilton,
have you heard anything from Laurens
in his attempt to borrow money for us in Europe?

HAMILTON
No, not yet, Marquis.

LAFAYETTE
Destouches has sailed, hasn't he?
Do you think he can block up Arnold in the Bay?

HAMILTON
He has sailed with three vessels,
but I don't know if he can defeat Arnold.

Hamilton pulls himself away and goes up the stairs at the top of which Washington has been pacing around impatiently.

WASHINGTON
Colonel Hamilton, you have kept me waiting
at the head of the stairs these ten minutes.
I must tell you, sir, you treat me with disrespect.

HAMILTON
I am not conscious of it, sir;
but since you have thought it
necessary to tell me so,
we must part.

WASHINGTON
Very well, sir, if it be your choice.

Hamilton goes back down the stairs to talk with Lafayette.

HAMILTON
Marquis,
the General has loosed his anger on me again.
I can take it no more, and I am leaving.

LAFAYETTE
No, no, my dear friend.

DISSOLVE TO:

Washington is talking with Tilghman in his office.

TILGHMAN
I told him you have confidence in his abilities
and wish a candid conversation
to heal the difference;
but he is determined to leave,
though he will continue until you can replace him.

WASHINGTON
Then I will conduct myself
as though the incident had not occurred
and not mention it further.

EXT. ROAD SOUTH OF CHESTER - DAY

Washington and his aides DAVID HUMPHREYS and JONATHAN TRUMBULL are leading a column of troops.

HUMPHREYS
Now that it's clear we are marching to Virginia
do you think we can catch Cornwallis' army there?

WASHINGTON
By making it appear as though
we were going to attack Staten Island,
General Clinton had to keep his troops up north.
Now if the French Admirals de Barras and de Grasse
gain naval superiority around the Chesapeake Bay,
with the help of the Count de Rochambeau's army,
we could win the decisive victory we need.

An EXPRESS RIDER approaches them on a galloping horse from the opposite direction.

TRUMBULL
It looks like an express messenger;
I thought we couldn't afford them anymore.

WASHINGTON
That's why the British have intercepted my letters.

EXPRESS MESSENGER
General Washington,
I was instructed by General Gist
to give this dispatch directly to you, sir.

While Washington opens the package and looks at the letters, he questions the messenger.

WASHINGTON
Do you come from the Chesapeake Bay?

EXPRESS MESSENGER
Yes, sir, from Baltimore.

WASHINGTON
Ah! Admiral de Grasse has arrived
with twenty-eight ships and three thousand troops.
With the help of France and its Navy
we are going to catch Lord Cornwallis in a trap,
for I am sure that General Lafayette
will not let him escape from Yorktown.

HUMPHREYS
What now, sir?

WASHINGTON
We can go back to Chester for today.
I want to tell the glorious tidings
to General Rochambeau when he disembarks.

HUMPHREYS
I have never seen you so happy, sir.

WASHINGTON
This could be it, Colonel Humphreys!
This could do it!

EXT. BATTLE LINES FACING YORKTOWN - DAY

Washington is inspecting the placing of cannon with General Knox and his aides.

WASHINGTON
General Knox,
are the gun carriages you invented working?

KNOX
Yes, sir,
the extreme right is looking very elegant.
So far we have not returned one shot,
but when we do, they will feel it, believe me.

TRUMBULL
General, we are in an exposed situation here.

WASHINGTON
If you think so, you are at liberty to step back.

Washington looks through a spyglass, as a cannon shot lands near them and throws dirt on the hat of CHAPLAIN EVANS, who starts to brush the sand off.

EVANS
See here, General.

WASHINGTON
Mr. Evans, you had better carry that home
and show it to your wife and children.

INT. WASHINGTON'S HEADQUARTERS TENT NEAR YORKTOWN - DAY

Humphreys reports to Washington.

HUMPHREYS
Sir, the engineers believe that the British positions
have been damaged heavily enough now
that a successful assault is practicable.

WASHINGTON
Good, that is what I have been waiting to hear.
Order Lafayette with four hundred Light Infantry
to attack the redoubt next to the river,
and Rochambeau the other detached position.

HUMPHREYS
Very good, sir.

EXT. YORKTOWN BATTLELINES - DAY

Washington is observing the firing against the British fortifications with Knox.

KNOX
Now that we are firing from the redoubts
which Lafayette and the French were able to take,
I don't think they can hold out much longer.

WASHINGTON
Yes, and their attempt to escape by boats
also proved to be unavailing.
It is only a matter of a few days now.

A musket ball strikes the cannon in the embrasure, rolls along it and falls at their feet. Knox takes Washington's arm.

KNOX
My dear General, we can't spare you yet.

WASHINGTON
It is a spent ball; no harm is done.
They don't seem to be firing back much any more.
The work is done, and well done.
William, bring me my horse.

Washington's NEGRO SERVANT WILLIAM brings his horse to him. Washington mounts and rides off.

EXT. BATTLELINES AT YORKTOWN - MORNING

A BRITISH DRUMMER appears on the parapet, but the drumming cannot be heard because of the American cannons. Finally he is brought to the attention of General Knox.

KNOX
Cease firing!

When the cannons stop, a BRITISH OFFICER comes out in front of the defenses with a white handkerchief. An AMERICAN LIEUTENANT runs forward and bandages the eyes of the British Officer with the white flag; then he leads him toward the American lines.

INT. WASHINGTON'S HEADQUARTERS TENT NEAR YORKTOWN - DAY

Washington receives the letter from the blindfolded British officer who is led out as Washington breaks the seal and reads the letter.

WASHINGTON
Cornwallis proposes a cessation of hostilities
so that two officers from each side
may meet at Mr. Moore's house
to settle the terms
for the surrender of the posts
at York and Gloucester.

The aides Laurens, Humphreys, Trumbull and Tilghman cheer, as they all congratulate each other.

LAURENS
Congratulations, sir!

WASHINGTON
Colonel Trumbull draft a reply expressing
our desire to spare the further effusion of blood
and asking for his lordship's proposals in writing.
We shall grant them two hours to respond.

TRUMBULL
Yes, sir.

WASHINGTON
Colonel Tilghman,
you write to Admiral de Grasse
inviting him to participate in this treaty
which by present appearances will shortly take place.

TILGHMAN
Very good, sir.

INT. CORNWALLIS'S HEADQUARTERS AT YORKTOWN - DAY

GENERAL CORNWALLIS is reading Washington's letter with his staff.

CORNWALLIS
I need more than two hours for this.
Send a reply indicating that
they will have my terms some time tonight.

INT. WASHINGTON'S HEADQUARTERS TENT NEAR YORKTOWN - MORNING

Washington is meeting with his aides and speaks to Trumbull.

WASHINGTON
Let me see your draft now.
Yes, this is the important point:
"The Condition annexed
of sending the British and German troops
to the parts of Europe
to which they respectively belong,
is inadmissible."

LAURENS
We are granting them the same honors, sir,
that were granted to our garrison at Charleston.

WASHINGTON
Yes, that is good.
We will treat them well,
but they are to be prisoners of war.
Give them two hours to accept these conditions,
or the bombardment will be renewed.

INT. CORNWALLIS'S HEADQUARTERS AT YORKTOWN - DAY

Cornwallis has just read the terms.

CORNWALLIS
These are generally acceptable.
Tell them we will send two commissioners
to meet their commissioners
to make the final draft.

INT. WASHINGTON'S HEADQUARTERS TENT NEAR YORKTOWN - MORNING

Washington is meeting with Laurens and DE NOAILLES.

WASHINGTON
I have made only minor changes in the terms
you have negotiated for us.
Tell General Cornwallis that
I expect to have them signed at eleven o'clock,
and the garrison will march out at two o'clock.

LAURENS
Very good, sir.

EXT. BATTLEFIELD OUTSIDE YORKTOWN - 2 P.M.

Washington, Lincoln, and ROCHAMBEAU ride between the lines of American and French troops which are on either side of the road. They stop at the end of each column respectively with Lincoln just behind Washington. The British officers coming from the opposite direction are led by BRIGADIER CHARLES O'HARA who approaches Rochambeau. Rochambeau points to Washington, and O'Hara rides up to Washington.

O'HARA
General Washington,
I am Brigadier Charles O'Hara
of the Guards representing Lord Cornwallis,
who is indisposed and unable to be here.

WASHINGTON
As you are only his deputy, sir,
you may consult General Benjamin Lincoln
who is at hand here for your instructions.

O'HARA
As you wish.

LINCOLN
Sir, over there you will find an open field
where French Hussars have formed a circle.
Each Regiment is to march into that circle
and lay down their arms;
then await instructions
to march back between the lines of our troops.

O'Hara bows and withdraws to carry out the instructions. As the British carry out the orders, Lincoln and Washington converse.

LINCOLN
How many prisoners do you think there will be?

WASHINGTON
Exclusive of seamen I would say five or six thousand,
but there may be even more than that.
This makes up for the surrender of Fort Washington.

LINCOLN
And also for my surrender of Charleston.

WASHINGTON
Yes, I am glad that you are the one to be here now.

LINCOLN
Sir, have you decided who is to have the honor
of taking the victory dispatch to Congress?

WASHINGTON
I think for length of loyal service in my family
I owe it to Colonel Tench Tilghman.

INT. THE TEMPLE MEETING HALL AT NEWBURGH - DAY

Washington enters the hall where the officers have gathered for a meeting to discuss their grievances. As he was not expected at the meeting, Washington is observed with surprise, caution, and awe. He walks to the front where General Gates is presiding and speaks to the assembled officers.

WASHINGTON
General Gates and officers
of the Continental Army,
I beg your forgiveness
for appearing at your meeting
to discuss the important grievances
you are attempting to get redressed
by a slow-moving Congress.
Now that rumors abound that
a peace treaty has been signed in Europe
which will end this war,
some anonymous addresses have been circulated
making it necessary for me to give my sentiments
which I would like to read to you on this occasion.

GATES
Certainly we desire to know your thoughts, General.

Washington begins to read from his paper.

WASHINGTON
"Gentlemen:
By an anonymous summons,
an attempt has been made to convene you together;
how inconsistent with the rules of propriety!
how unmilitary!
and how subversive
of all order and discipline that is,
let the good sense of the Army decide."

Having difficulty reading, Washington pauses to get out and put on his spectacles.

WASHINGTON (Cont'd.)
Gentlemen,
you will permit me to put on my spectacles,
for I not only have grown gray
but almost blind in the service of my country.

Somehow this simple statement moves most of the officers, and their eyes well up with tears as Washington continues to read his statement.

WASHINGTON (Cont'd.)
"As Men see through different Optics,
and are induced by the reflecting faculties of the Mind,
to use different means to attain the same end,
the Author of the Summons
should have had more clarity
than to mark with suspicion the Man of moderation;
but in his plan, candor and liberality of Sentiment,
regard to justice, and love of Country have no part.

"Everything consistent with your honor
and the dignity of the Army
I have done to make known your grievances.
How best may your interests be promoted?
The anonymous Addresser says if War continues,
remove into the unsettled Country
and leave an ungrateful Country to defend itself.
If Peace takes place,
never sheath your Swords
says he, until you have obtained full justice.
This dreadful alternative
of either deserting our Country
in the extremest hour of her distress,
or turning our Arms against it
has something so shocking in it,
that humanity revolts at the idea.
My God!
Can this writer be a friend to this Country?
Rather, is he not an insidious Foe?

"It is my decided opinion that Congress entertains
exalted sentiments of the Services of the Army
and will do it complete justice in time;
but like all large Bodies,
where a variety of different interests
are to be reconciled,
their deliberations are slow.
Why then should we distrust them
and adopt measures
which may tarnish the reputation of an Army
which is celebrated through all Europe
for its fortitude and patriotism?

"I pledge myself to exert whatever ability I have
in your favor so that Congress may repay you
according to the resolutions published two days ago.
In the name of our common Country,
as you value your own sacred honor,
as you respect the rights of humanity,
and as you regard the National character of America,
turn away in horror and detestation from one
who would overturn the liberties of our Country
and who wickedly attempts
to open the floodgates of Civil discord
and deluge our rising Empire in Blood.
By thus determining you will attain your wishes,
defeat the insidious designs of our Enemies,
and give one more distinguished proof
of unexampled patriotism and patient virtue,
rising superior to the most complicated sufferings;
and you will by the dignity of your Conduct
afford occasion for Posterity to say,
'Had this day been wanting,
the World would never have seen
the last stage of human perfection.'"

Washington puts his spectacles and paper away, and then walks out of the room, passing silent and admiring observers. General Knox rises to speak.

KNOX
General Gates,
I move that we assure General Washington
the officers reciprocate his affectionate expressions
with the greatest sincerity
of which the human heart is capable.

PUTNAM
I second the motion.

GATES
Is there any discussion?
Then all in favor of the motion will stand.

All the officers stand up.

GATES (Cont'd.)
Now all those opposed will stand.

Everyone sits down.

GATES (Cont'd.)
The resolution is passed unanimously.

INT. FRAUNCES' TAVERN IN NEW YORK - NOON

About thirty officers still remaining in New York have gathered for a farewell dinner. The only Major Generals present are Knox, Steuben, and McDougall. Washington enters and walks among them not knowing what to do at first. As he speaks, he walks over to the banquet table and begins to pour a glass of wine for each officer.

WASHINGTON
Now that the Redcoats have finally left New York
and all the British have withdrawn from America,
the day has come for us to go our separate ways.

After they have each received a glass of wine, Washington holds up his glass for a toast, and the others do so also.

WASHINGTON (Cont'd.)
With a heart full of love and gratitude,
I now take leave of you.
I most devoutly wish that
your later days may be
as prosperous and happy
as your former ones
have been glorious and honorable.

The officers each respond in their own way all at once so that a chorus of gratitude is heard, and then they all drink. With tears in his eyes Washington is barely able to speak.

WASHINGTON (Cont'd.)
I cannot come to each of you,
but shall feel obliged
if each of you will come
and take me by the hand.

The first to do so is General Knox, but the handshake soon becomes a full embrace; then Washington kisses Knox on the cheek. Next Steuben and Washington embrace, followed by McDougall and Washington.

INT. MARYLAND STATE HOUSE IN ANNAPOLIS - NOON

The United States Congress is in session, but only about twenty delegates are present, presided over by President Mifflin. The Secretary CHARLES THOMPSON escorts Washington to a seat in the front. At the same time the doors of the chamber and gallery are opened, and the room is soon filled with public servants, former officers, eminent citizens, and favored ladies.

MIFFLIN
Sir, the United States in Congress assembled
are prepared to receive your communications.

Washington stands and bows. The members take off their hats momentarily. Washington takes a paper out of his pocket and reads from it.

WASHINGTON
"Mr. President:
The great events on which my resignation depended
having at length taken place,
I have now the honor of offering
my sincere Congratulations to Congress
and of presenting myself before them
to surrender into their hands
the trust committed to me,
and to claim the indulgence
of retiring from the Service of my Country.

"Happy in the confirmation
of our Independence and Sovereignty,
and pleased with the opportunity afforded
the United States of becoming a respectable Nation,
I resign with satisfaction the Appointment
I accepted with diffidence, a diffidence
in my abilities to accomplish so arduous a task,
which however was superseded by
a confidence in the rectitude of our Cause,
the support of the Supreme Power of the Union,
and the patronage of Heaven.

"The Successful termination of the War
has verified the most sanguine expectations,
and my gratitude for the interposition of Providence
and the assistance I have received
from my Countrymen,
increases with every review
of the momentous Contest.

"While I repeat my obligations
to the Army in general,
I should do injustice to my own feelings
not to acknowledge in this place
the peculiar Services and distinguished merits
of the Gentlemen
who have been attached to my person
during the War.

"I consider it an indispensable duty
to close this last solemn act of my Official life
by commending the Interests of our dearest Country
to the protection of Almighty God,
and those who have superintendence of them,
to his holy keeping.

"Having now finished the work assigned to me,
I retire from the great theatre of Action;
and bidding an Affectionate farewell
to this August body
under whose orders I have so long acted,
I here offer my Commission,
and take my leave
of all the employments of public life."

Washington takes another paper out of his pocket, which he hands to Mifflin along with the copy of his speech.

INT. GOVERNOR'S OFFICES IN VARIOUS STATES - DAY

Brief shots are shown of various state governors receiving a "Circular to the States from G. Washington."

EXT. MOUNT VERNON PLANTATION - DAY

Super:

Mount Vernon, December 24, 1783

As Washington and his servants ride up to the main house at Mount Vernon, we hear Washington's voice reading part of the Circular to the States as the Governors are silently reading it.

WASHINGTON (voice over)
"There are four things which I humbly conceive
are essential to the well-being,
I may even venture to say, to the existence
of the United States as an independent power:
First, an indissoluble Union of the States
under one Federal Head.
Secondly, a sacred regard to public justice.
Thirdly, the adoption of a proper peace establishment.
And fourthly, the prevalence
of that pacific and friendly disposition
among the people of the United States
which will induce them to forget
their local prejudices and policies,
to make those mutual concessions
which are requisite to the general prosperity,
and in some instances,
to sacrifice their individual advantages
to the interest of the community."

As he reaches the front of the house, Washington dismounts and goes in the front door where he is greeted by MARTHA WASHINGTON with a tender embrace.


--end of the seventh episode in a series on GEORGE WASHINGTON--

Copyright 1996, 2008 by Sanderson Beck

This screenplay has been published in the book GEORGE WASHINGTON: A Dramatic Series. For ordering information, please click here.

GEORGE WASHINGTON

Wilderness Diplomacy
A War Breaks Out
General Braddock's Defeat
Virginia Patriot
Fight for Independence
Maintaining an Army
On to Victory
The Constitution
First President
Second Term

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