America: The Story of Us (2010) s01e02 Episode Script

Revolution

We are a land of many nations.
We are New World explorers.
We are the huddled masses yearning to breathe freedom.
We will risk it all.
We have the courage to dream the impossible and make it the truth.
We stand our ground and charge headlong towards our destiny.
America: The Story of Us 1x01 Rebels and Revolution Shiploads of businessmen and true believers are crossing the Atlantic Ocean to create a new world.
May 1610.
120 years after Columbus, it's still a perilous journey.
One ship, The Deliverance, carries a cargo that will change America forever.
All hands over here.
Onboard is John Rolfe, a 24-year-old English farmer.
Ambitious, self-reliant, visionary.
A born entrepreneur.
What takes us six hours today by plane was then a voyage of more than two months.
Seven of the early adventurers out of every ten will be dead within a year.
Land ahoy ! But the risks are worth it.
North America is the ultimate land of opportunity.
A continent of vast untapped wealth.
Starting with the most valuable resource of all land.
What will be home to more than 300 million people lies under a blanket of forest covering nearly half the land.
More than 50 billion trees.
Further west, 9 million square miles of vast American wilderness.
60 million bison roam the plains.
And underground, there are rumors of gems, silver and the largest seams of gold in the world.
The settlers expect nothing less than El Dorado.
But what Rolfe finds at the English settlement of Jamestown is hell on Earth.
More than 500 settlers made the journey before Rolfe.
Hello ? Hello ? Barely 60 remain.
It's called "The Starving Time.
" Having fed on horses and other animals, we ate boots, shoes, and any other leather we came across.
Somebody, help ! Three months before Rolfe arrives, a man is burned at the stake for killing his pregnant wife and planning to eat her.
The English arrive unprepared for this new world and unwilling to perform manual labor.
Instead of livestock, they've brought chemical tests for gold that they never find.
And this is not their land.
They build Jamestown in the middle of a Native American empire.
60 starving settlers among 20, 000 of the Powhatan Nation, armed with bows and arrows that are up to nine times faster to reload and fire than an English musket.
They're soon enemies.
Only one in ten of the original settlers is left.
John Rolfe didn't come to plunder and leave like the others.
He's got his own plan.
There's money in tobacco, and England is addicted.
He's arrived with a supply of South American tobacco seeds, but growing it is limited to the Spanish colonies.
The Spanish control the worldwide trade.
Selling tobacco seeds to foreigners is punishable by death.
But John Rolfe has got his hands on some.
No one knows how.
And in the warm, humid climate and fertile soil around the Chesapeake Bay, Rolfe's tobacco crop flourishes.
The first large harvest produced by these seeds is worth more than a million dollars in today's money.
The great strength of America is our people.
If you wanna know what is the defining strength of America, it is our people, our immigrant tradition, our bringing in cultures from all over the world.
I know what goes into making success.
And when somebody's really successful, it's rarely luck.
It's talent, it's brain power, it's lots of other things.
Rolfe marries the daughter of the king of the Powhatan Empire.
Her name becomes legend: Pocahontas.
In England, Rolfe makes her a celebrity when her face is put on a portrait that sells all over London, advertising life in the New World.
Shakespeare mentions the colony.
England's rich invest money here.
All of London knows about this land of plenty.
Within two years, tobacco grows in every garden.
From a living hell, Jamestown is America's first boomtown.
Two years later, nearly 1, 000 more settlers arrive, including 19 from West Africa.
Slaves.
But some go on to own their own land in Virginia.
12 years after the founding of Jamestown, Africans were playing a shaping role in the creation of the colonies.
That's pretty incredible.
30 years later, there are over 20, 000 settlers in Virginia.
America is founded on tobacco.
For the next century and a half, it's the continent's largest export.
Ten years after Rolfe arrives in Jamestown, another group of English settlers lands in North America.
They come ashore on a deserted beach 450 miles up the coast from Jamestown and call the place Plymouth, after the English port they sailed from.
These are a different breed of settler, a group of religious dissidents with faith at the center of their lives.
They made the dangerous Atlantic crossing seeking religious freedom in the New World.
24-year-old apprentice printer Edward Winslow arrives with a group of religious sectarians on a boat called the Mayflower.
By April 1621, their settlement is taking shape.
The Mayflower returns to England.
The Pilgrims are on their own in an unknown land.
A great hope and inward zeal we had of laying some great foundation for the propagating and advancing the gospel of the kingdom of Christ in those remote parts of the world.
They're 19 families.
Goats, chickens, pigs and dogs.
They have spinning wheels, chairs, books, guns.
And no way home.
If you create this environment as a land of opportunity, then you're gonna attract those type of people who wanna take that risk, who have-- wanna take that gamble and who believe in a better life.
They were heading for the Hudson River, but they've landed 200 miles further north at the beginning of winter.
They have arrived in the middle of a mini ice age, temperatures 2° colder than today.
Winters are longer, growing seasons shorter.
The soil is poor.
Little grows.
Food supplies run low.
the first three months, more than half the Pilgrims die.
William Bradford is the governor of a community soon in desperate trouble.
It pleased God to visit us with death daily.
Disease was everywhere.
The living were scarcely able to bury the dead.
They died sometimes two or three a day.
Of 100 and odd persons, scarce 50 remained.
At times, only six are fit enough to continue building their shelters.
Susanna White's husband dies that first winter.
Edward Winslow's wife perishes a month after.
Within weeks, White and Winslow marry.
They'll have five children.
Today more than 10% of all Americans can trace their ancestry back to the Mayflower.
For a time, Plymouth provides the sanctuary they sought.
Edward ! Edward ! Edward, please go and look over there ! But like Jamestown, there were others here first.
April 1621.
The Pilgrims have been in the New World for five months.
Barely half survive the first winter.
But they're not the first Europeans to arrive on this coast.
Five years before, European ships brought light-skinned people and plague.
Almost nine out of ten of the local people are wiped out.
The Pokanoket people don't need enemies.
They make peace with the Pilgrims.
They teach the English how to grow crops in sandy soil, using fish for fertilizer.
But they want something in return.
They have a common enemy- a rival tribe.
And the English have powerful weapons.
The Pilgrims aren't soldiers.
But in the New World, they have to fight to survive.
On August 14, 1621, Pilgrims and Pokanoket, shoulder to shoulder, will launch a surprise attack that will seal their future in this new land.
It was resolved to send 14 men, well-armed, and to fall upon them in the night.
The captain gave charge: Let none pass out.
The rival tribe doesn't know what hit them.
Surrounded, they have no answer for English firepower.
Pokanoket and Pilgrims find common ground and a chance to survive.
Two unlikely allies.
A partnership all too rare in North America.
We have found the Indians very faithful in their covenant of peace with us.
They are people without any religion or knowledge of any God, yet very trusty, quick of apprehension, ripe-witted and just.
Their victory brings a period of peace to the colony.
Their friendship is celebrated in a feast.
In time, it will become known as Thanksgiving.
One of the main themes in the founding of America was a place to do business, a place to expand your horizons, a place to live a life of your own, practice your own religion.
Those are the basic themes that brought people to these shores to colonize.
It's the start of a period of prosperity that will transform North America.
From Jamestown and Plymouth, their descendants grow across the landscape.
As more and more people cross the Atlantic-- thousands, tens of thousands, people with different backgrounds, different reasons for being here America becomes the place for everybody from everywhere.
Rolling the dice, coming together to create 13 colonies.
From Jamestown, agriculture spreads across the South, dirt farms transform into sprawling plantations.
Irish, Germans, and Swedes push back the frontier.
The Dutch bring commerce to a small island at the mouth of the Hudson River.
In time, it will be named New York.
The colonists are 2 inches taller, and far healthier, than those they left behind in Europe.
The Puritans average eight children, and they are twice as likely to survive to adulthood.
They are 20% richer and pay only 1/4 of the taxes of those in England.
Many still think of themselves as British, but each generation grows further from its roots.
Nowhere more so than Boston.
May 9, 1768.
Seven generations after John Rolfe's first tobacco harvest, the British want a bigger piece of the action.
A British customs official springs a surprise raid on The Liberty, a ship belonging to John Hancock, one of the richest men in Boston.
But Hancock's crew has other ideas.
They're carrying 100 casks of imported wine and don't want to pay duty.
It's a radical act of rebellion against taxes imposed by a king 3,000 miles away.
To the British, they're just common smugglers.
This small skirmish changes everything.
The British seize Hancock's ship, triggering riots that sweep through Boston.
We didn't wanna pay taxes to a king and to a parliament where we didn't have a voice, and we didn't have any representation.
We have a natural resentment toward government, which was how we were born.
The king sends 4,000 redcoats to Boston to enforce his laws.
Boston was a city of commerce, culture, civilization, and revolution, unfolding right before the eyes of the colonists and the eyes of the British.
October 1768.
British soldiers clamp down on Boston, a port crucial to the British Empire and a hub of global trade and commerce.
Its dockyards are some of the busiest in the world, producing 200 ships a year from America's vast timber reserves.
1/3 of all British shipping is built in the colonies.
Timber fuels the global economy much like oil does today.
Across New England, marks identify the tallest, strongest trees selected by the crown for British ships.
England has lost most of its forests.
It wants American wood.
In Boston, there's one redcoat for every four citizens.
It's a city under occupation.
Paul Revere is a silversmith and one of Boston's prominent businessmen an unlikely subversive.
They formed and marched with insolent parade, drums beating, fifes playing, and colors flying, each soldier having received 16 rounds of powder and ball.
He is an upper-middle-class figure, someone who has risen through his own efforts, his own talent.
He represents what we have created on our own with very little help from our cousins across the Atlantic.
But when revolution comes to North America Revere will be at the center of it.
Boston and the 13 colonies are an economic powerhouse, critical to Britain.
Nearly 40% of everything exported from Britain makes its way to America.
The fishing fleet ships thousands of tons of salted cod to the Caribbean.
Returns with sugar and molasses raw material for rum.
Taxed by the British after every exchange.
In Africa, rum is the currency used to purchase the most profitable cargo of all African slaves.
Between 1700 and 1800, more than 1/4 of a million Africans are brought to the American colonies.
More slaves than all those who came of their own free will.
Most wind up on large plantations in the South.
But they're also critical to the economy of the North.
10% of Boston's population is black.
Boston is a melting pot, and tension is building.
Nobody likes invaders in their homes.
To have people here, foreigners on your soil, is something-- is a great incentive for people to fight.
March 5, 1770: After three days of unrest, an angry mob roams the streets.
Hundreds of men who lost their jobs and blame the British gather on King Street and face off against eight redcoats with orders not to fire.
What's about to happen will change America forever.
A 17-year-old wig maker's apprentice, Edward Garrick, lights the fuse.
This is how wars start.
Come on, let's have it ! Private Hugh Montgomery is hit with a club.
An African-American, Crispus Attucks, dies instantly.
Everybody, run ! When the smoke clears, four more are dead.
How Boston reacts will change the course of history.
Silversmith and political radical Paul Revere caures the moment British soldiers kill five colonists in the streets of Boston.
His engraving will fuel the fires of revolution as outrage spreads across the 13 colonies.
Unhappy Boston see thy sons deplore, thy hallowed walks besmeared with guiltless gore, whilst faithless Preston and his savage bands, with murderous rancor, stretch their bloody hands.
The most formidable army in the world firing on an unarmed crowd.
An explosive image with a title that says it all: "The Bloody Massacre.
" There was the old joke, "You give me a picture, I'll give you a war.
" Those who wanted to stir things up and to make a statement and maybe even lead a revolution, it made them able to rally others to their side.
News spreads fast.
The colonists are avid readers, a legacy from the first Bible-reading Puritans in Plymouth.
Boston has the first weekly newspaper.
There are now more than 40 papers across the colonies.
And the new postmaster general, Benjamin Franklin has introduced a revolutionary postal-delivery system.
Night riders cut the delivery time in half.
The communications network connecting the colonies is one of the best in the world.
And the British have no idea.
They hope the news can be contained.
Before news reaches England, most of America knows about the Boston Massacre.
It's a very American spirit of an idea, this idea that everybody should have access to knowledge.
It's very much like that pioneering idea, everybody should be able to make their way in the world.
A printer in Connecticut can read the exact same story as a farmer in North Carolina.
December 1773.
"The Boston Gazette" breaks another story that will fan the flames of rebellion.
The rising tide of anger and resentment forces England's hand.
They repeal all taxes except one, on tea.
It's not enough.
In one of the most famous acts of resistance in American history, Rebels dump over $1 million worth of tea in Boston Harbor.
When someone comes along and smacks us, we don't turn the other cheek.
That's not who we are.
Move it ! The British respond by shutting down Boston Harbor one of America's busiest, wealthiest ports.
Come on, lad.
Hundreds lose their jobs.
The British mean to strangle any resistance from the rebellious colony of Massachusetts.
America is about to change forever.
Tensions escalate far beyond Boston.
Settlers are pushing west.
Many have their eyes set on new land west of the Appalachians.
But to protect Native American lands, England has banned settlements along a boundary called the Proclamation Line.
Hundreds are evicted from their homes on the frontier.
September 5, 1774.
We want liberty Incensed at the British actions, 56 delegates from across the colonies gather at the First Continental Congress in Philadelphia.
It's the first step on the road to American democracy.
Among them are John Adams, Patrick Henry, and a gentleman landowner from Virginia named George Washington.
At a time when our lordly masters in Great Britain will be satisfied with nothing less than the deprivation of American freedom, it seems highly necessary that something should be done to maintain liberty.
Across New England, people prepare to defend themselves.
Smuggled arms are collected and stashed in secret hideaways.
But while many expect conflict, most delegates in Philadelphia want peace with Britain.
A military action would make a wound that would never be healed.
That's good, we don't have all day, let's go, come on.
The First Continental Congress resolves that a British attack on any one colony will be regarded as an attack on all of them.
What emerges at Philadelphia is solidarity.
The distinctions between Virginians, Pennsylvanians, New Englanders, and New Yorkers are no more.
I'm not a Virginian.
I am an American.
The future of the 13 American colonies hangs in the balance.
Spring 1775.
Near Concord, Massachusetts.
Get in here, get those weapons stacked up.
We haven't got all day.
Local gunsmith Isaac Davis puts the town militia through basic training.
The American patriots knew that they were doing the right thing.
You're starting the birth of a nation.
You had to really believe in what you were doing.
You've gotta keep this clean here, sir.
If you keep that clean, it'll save your life.
If war comes, this will be America's first line of defense.
A volunteer home guard with weapons paid for by local citizens.
Gentlemen, it's looking good, it's looking good.
Let's have some breakfast and move out.
They're farmers, blacksmiths, and store owners.
A fighting force of ordinary Americans.
The militiamen of any of the colonies were made up of just its citizens.
It was a citizen-based protection unit.
And some of them had some skills, but some of them were just the carpenters.
Some of them were just the mason or the blacksmith.
I mean, these were e guys that-- they had something at stake to protect their colony.
So they started to form together, just trying to help protect each other.
Every town across the colonies has its own militia, but now they're preparing to defend themselves against the British Army.
Better than yesterday, better than yesterday.
For six generations across Massachusetts, men are expected to serve as militiamen.
In Massachusetts, 1/3 of all men between 16 and 50 are ready to bear arms at a minute's notice.
Excellent, good shot.
We keep this up, we're gonna give those redcoats a scare, all right ? The British will not stand for any armed resistance.
April 19, 1775.
After midnight, 900 redcoats leave their barracks in Boston for Lexington and Concord, about 20 miles away.
Their orders: Arrest the Rebel leaders and seize their weapons.
News of the British attack also reaches Paul Revere.
His midnight ride will alert local militias.
Revere rides ahead of the British troops.
His warning spreads from town to town, across the New England countryside.
Paul Revere reaches Lexington in time to spread the word.
The British are coming.
We need to warn the militia.
Get 'em together.
Come on ! By 5:00 in the morning, 60 militiamen line up.
They're commanded by a farmer, John Parker.
They're faced off against hundreds of well-armed and highly experienced British soldiers.
What happens next will transform the world forever.
Sunrise, April 19, 1775.
On one side 60 men, poorly armed and barely trained.
On the other, hundreds of the most powerful army in the world.
Men who have only been active for a handful of months vs.
an army that in the past 20 years has fought on five continents and defeated everything in its path.
For these Rebels, the fight is for nothing less than freedom itself.
These guys were revolutionaries, they were scallywags, they were rebels, some of them were gentlemen farmers, some of them were overeducated, some of them were undereducated.
It really was the birth of a nation.
The Lexington Militia gathers on the village common.
Dairy farmers and shopkeepers.
But also among them are free African-Americans and slaves.
It is a unique experience that African-Americans have had in the military in America.
African-Americans fought for the country even before it was a country.
African-Americans like Prince Estabrook.
Give me training.
You give me a weapon, and I can perform as well as you can.
Then there's no power on Earth that's gonna hold me down forever.
Stand your ground.
Don't fire unless fired upon.
But if we mean to have war, let it begin here.
Captain John Parker once fought on the side of the British.
1/4 of the men standing at his side are related to him.
No one knows who fires the first shot at Lexington but it's the shot heard 'round the world.
I mean, the redcoats, that's intimidating, the way they move, the way they march, the way they execute on that open space.
I imagine, on some level, for the guy who works the printing press, this is overwhelming beyond anything you could possibly articulate in words.
Fire ! Prince Estabrook is hit in the first volley.
No army in the world can stand toe-to-toe with the British, let alone a ragtag militia.
Fire ! The British fired up to four times the rate of the militia.
Within minutes of the first shots fired at Lexington, eight Patriots are dead, ten wounded.
The American Revolution has begun.
The redcoats reach Concord at 9:00 in the morning.
Acting on a tipoff from colonists loyal to the crown, they raid the militia's arms stash.
But the Rebels have got there first hiding almost everything.
That's good, we don't have all day, let's go, come on.
They continue to search for weapons, giving the Patriots more time to spread the word.
The militia gathers just outside the town of Concord.
By late morning, more than 1,000 have arrived from the surrounding villages.
Their plan, to defend their towns against the British.
Let's go ! The British soldiers left their barracks 15 hours ago.
And now they face a 20-mile march back to Boston.
Shattered lives an occupied city blood in the streets of Boston and now Lexington.
A people unified in the fight against tyranny.
Now the Patriots have their chance.
Gunsmith and militia leader Isaac Davis takes a bullet through the heart.
The Patriots seize the upper hand and intend to make the British soldiers pay.
They shadow the redcoats' march, firing on them the entire way.
1/3 are killed or wounded.
Seven generations after the first settlers left England, in search of prosperity and freedom, their descendants will have to fight for these rights.
Standing in their way is the might of the world's greatest military superpower.
And they're not about to give up their colonies lightly.
A ragtag bunch of rebels faces the greatest military superpower of the day.
It's a war they never should have won.
This is the secret history of how they did it.
Daring.
Leadership.
New ways of fighting and true American grit.
New York City.
Gateway to North America.
Today the financial capital of the world.
8 million people.
In 1776, this is a city of just 20,000.
It will soon become the battleground for the biggest land invasion in American history.
Three miles from Wall Street, where 23rd Street crosses Lexington Avenue today the Rebels dig in to defend New York at Kips Bay.
Commander of the Rebel Army is General George Washington.
He has already driven the British out of Boston.
A surprise victory against superior forces.
But they'll be back.
The hour is fast approaching and the safety of ourd bleeding country depend.
Joseph Plumb Martin enlisted in the Rebel forces at 15 inspired to fight under Washington's command.
A farm boy, he joins thousands of untrained volunteers.
Our Revolutionary Army was quite something.
It was-- in a nation that wasn't really a nation yet, just starting out, and we took on the greatest superpower of the time.
Washington's ragtag troops are about to face the best-equipped and most powerful fighting force in the world.
June 29th.
45 British warships mass off Staten Island.
Bearing down on New York City, the ultimate war machine of its day, the British ship-of-the-line.
Each ship is made from over 2, 000 century-old trees.
Each carries hundreds more soldiers to the fight against the colonies.
And each is armed with up to 64 heavy cannons capable of hurling a 24-pound cannonball at the speed of sound, delivering it to tgets over a mile away.
One ship-of-the-line costs the equivalent of a modern aircraft carrier.
Another 350 British ships are racing across the Atlantic to join them.
The British want to terrify the Rebels into submission.
Instead, they inspire them to resist.
On July 2nd, there's a crisis meeting in Philadelphia.
50 delegates elected to the Continental Congress from the 13 colonies hold an emergency session.
They include radicals like Ben Franklin, Thomas Jefferson and John Adams.
What they're debating is nothing less than high treason-- total independence from Britain.
The penalty is death.
We are in the midst of a revolution, the most complete in the history of the world.
It's the birth of American democracy.
We have to expect a great expanse of blood to obtain it.
Some don't believe the Rebels stand a chance.
We are about to brave the storm in a skiff made of paper.
But the doubters are outnumbered nearly five to one.
On July 4, 1776, the delegates ratify a document that will change the world, the Declaration of Independence.
"We hold these truths to be self-evident, "that all men are created equal, "that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights.
" Now think about that.
They're saying that your rights come not from the king, not from the government, your rights come from God and furthermore, they can't be taken away from you.
They're inalienable.
Every group: blacks, women, gays-- everybody looks to the Declaration as a way of saying we are Americans, too.
So the Declaration is the American creed.
" that among these are Life "Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.
" You cannot help but be stirred when you read those words.
And you feel the excitement of being on the cusp of something so profound.
We can be free.
Now soldiers like Plumb Martin have something worth fighting for.
On July 12th, two British warships open fire on New York City.
It must have been quite a shock because New York, up to that point, was pretty quiet city.
It was a business city.
So you had significant support for the Rebels but also significant support for the people who were still loyal to the king.
A month later, Joseph Reed, secretary to George Washington, tracks the British fleet massing off New York.
Over 400 ships, the largest British Naval task force until D-day.
32,000 British troops prepare to storm Manhattan Island.
They outnumber Patriot forces two to one.
Just five of the biggest British ships carry more firepower than all the Patriot guns in the city.
Reed is awed by the sight.
When I look down and see the prodigious fleet they have collected, I cannot help being astonished that a people should come 3, 000 miles at such risk, trouble and expense to rob, plunder and destroy another people because they will not lay their lives and fortune at their feet.
It's the biggest attack on New York City until September 11, 2001.
But the Rebels will stand and fight.
The difference for me was that the British Army was fighting for a king and the Americans were fighting for their lives.
Plumb Martin is one of 500 men standing guard at Kips Bay.
Have a look.
The first thing that saluted our eyes was all four ships at anchor within musket shot of us.
"The Phoenix.
" I could read her name as distinctly as though I was directly underneath her stern.
Pull out your gun ! The assault begins.
September 1776.
New York is under fire.
In one hour 2,500 British cannonballs smash the Rebel defenses at Kips Bay.
4,000 British troops storm Manhattan.
Tough and battle-hardened, a British redcoat has six times more combat experience than a Patriot Army recruit.
Get back in your lines ! Washington watches his army collapse.
Hold the line, men ! They retreat along an ancient Native American path that will later be known as Broadway.
September 20th.
New York, now in British hands, burns.
No one knows who starts the fire but over two days it destroys 1/4 of the city.
It gives you a sense of the people who wanted to be free, how much they were willing to endure.
The city being burned, the city being occupied.
Gives you a sense of how much they wanted freedom.
More than 3,000 Patriot POWs are thrown into prison ships in New York Harbor.
The most notorious is the HMS Jersey, nicknamed "Hell.
" One prisoner, Robert Sheffield, escaped to tell the tale.
The air was so foul that at times a lamp could not be kept burning, by reason of which the bodies were not missed until they had been dead ten days.
Nine in ten prisoners die.
There is a memorial over in Brooklyn to those that died on British prison ships in New York Harbor.
Thousands of Americans.
Over the course of the war, 12,000 Patriot POWs will die in the prison ships, three times more than are killed in battle.
The loss of New York is Washington's first defeat as commander in chief.
The overwhelming British force crushes the Rebel Army.
Washington's only hope now rests hundreds of miles inland, with men the British know nothing about.
A new type of soldier with new weapons and new rules of war.
Let's go kill us some redcoats.
By June, a new British Army of 8,000 men heads south from loyalist Canada.
Its objective: Kill offhe American Revolution once and for all.
They're led by General John Burgoyne.
An aristocrat, politician, and art lover, he's also one of the best cavalry officers in the British military.
Burgoyne pushes south, following the Hudson River.
His army is like a mobile city.
The redcoats are accompanied by 2, 000 servants, wives, and mistresses.
200 supply wagons carry 84 tons of powder and shot, as well as silver and porcelain tableware for the officers' meals.
Burgoyne's plan is simple.
He's traveling from St.
John's in Canada 170 miles south to Saratoga, deep in the interior of the New York Colony.
Then, he'll link up with the victorious British Army in New York City, cutting the colonies into two parts.
But the American frontier becomes the British Army's worst enemy.
The problem is they're in what we might call a counterinsurgency kind of campaign, where their passage through the land and the offense that they give to farmers creates enemies wherever they go.
Now Washington unleashes revolutionary new tactics and a totally new type of soldier.
Men who learned their skills on the frontier.
So this army came together-- an army of militia, an army of woodsmen, an army of sharpshooters, and we didn't play by the rules.
British redcoats are trained for open battlefields.
Now they face Rebel sharpshooters hidden in dense cover.
Leading them, Daniel Morgan.
Hard drinker, gambler, brawler.
And now the colonel of an elite corps of 500 riflemen.
He was a self-made man and he was a-- although not educated at a great school-- was a smart guy, was a tough guy, and was ready and willing to step up when the time called.
He was the perfect guy to show up at the perfect time.
Burgoyne's route takes him through dense forest over five times larger than all of England.
Trees once intended to build British ships now become Rebel roadblocks.
The itish are sitting ducks.
Their advance slows to just a mile a day.
The march south becomes a six-week nightmare.
The sharpshooters know the land and have technology on their side.
Morgan's men are armed with American long rifles.
They're lightweight, with a slender barrel at least 40 inches long and fire a 50-caliber shot a half-inch wide.
Based on a German hunting weapon, the guns have a unique American innovation grooves inside the barrel that spin the shot, stabilizing it, giving it deadly accuracy.
Armed with this rifle, Patriot marksman can hit a target 250 yards away, more than three times the average distance of a modern FBI sniper shot, and twice the range of the British muskets.
The tide of the war is about to change.
Morgan's plan: First take out Burgoyne's Native American scouts.
400 have allied themselves with the British to preserve their ancestral lands.
But Morgan and his men now use traditional Native American tactics against them.
They attack using speed, stealth, and surprise.
After months of guerrilla warfare, all the scouts are dead or desert behind enemy lines.
Any knowledge the redcoats had of the terrain goes with them.
The Rebels are rewriting the rules of war, and they're about to do it again.
The American War of Independence is in its second year.
New York and many parts of the colonies are in British hands.
The Rebels have been driven into the wilderness.
But the fight back has begun.
Patriot sharpshooters target a British Army under General John Burgoyne.
They've already picked off Burgoyne's Native American guides.
Now the two armies meet near Saratoga.
Here the Rebels break the rules of 18th-century warfare and start targeting British officers.
The plan: Leave the foot soldiers leaderless.
Your officers tended to be your most educated guy.
They understood the communications line, they understood exactly what the orders were.
They were the source of trying to get something done on a battle space.
In Britain's 53rd regiment, all but one of its 11 officers are killed or wounded.
The tactic of assassinating officers appalls the British.
On the defensive, the British regroup under General Simon Fraser.
He brings fresh spirit to the beleaguered British Army.
Daniel Morgan, commander of the sharpshooters, acts fast.
Shimmy on up that tree and take out the redcoat on his high horse.
His best shooter is an illiterate frontiersman from Ireland, Tim Murphy.
This shot will turn the tide of the war.
The first shot misses.
This left.
The second skims his horse.
Too high ! Reload ! Come on, take him out ! The third hits home.
You could argue that whoever fired the bullet that took out Simon Fraser did as much as any Founding Father to establish American independence.
Without leadership, the British lose 1,000 men.
Twice as many as the Patriots.
On October 17, 1777, General Burgoyne surrenders.
It's a turning point.
The victory persuades Britain's greatest rival, France, to join the war on America's side.
Now the French Navy will force the British to fight a war on two fronts, land and sea.
But first, Washington must face his greatest challenge as leader.
He makes his winter camp in Pennsylvania at a place called Valley Forge.
In freezing temperatures, the Rebels build 900 huts in just 40 days.
Each houses a dozen men.
He has an army of 14,000 men and no houses, and the Continental Congress has failed to provide him with resources, and by willpower, by courage, by leadership, by cajoling, he has to hold the army together in the middle of a terrible winter.
Joseph Plumb Martin, veteran of The Battle of New York, is at Valley Forge.
It's a desolate place.
We are now in a truly forlorn condition.
No clothing, no provisions and as disheartened as can be.
Our prospect is indeed dreary.
All right, soldier.
This is gonna hurt a bit, all right ? You just grit your teeth.
Surgeon Albigence Waldo watches Washington's army head toward crisis.
The army, which has been surprisingly healthy, now begins to grow sickly from the fatigues they have suffered from this campaign.
If we don't keep this clean, you're gonna be right back in here.
1/5 of the soldiers have no shoes.
With little clean water, dysentery spreads through the camp.
Within weeks, 2,000 men are sick and they run out of meat.
Down to their last 25 barrels of flour, the men survive on "fire cake," a mixture of flour and water.
The Rebel Army is a melting pot.
As many as 60% of recruits are convicts, freed slaves and immigrants.
But Washington's leadership inspires unruly men to stay in line.
What he had was a confidence that if you want freedom, this is what it's gonna take.
It's gonna take sacrifice, it's gonna take blood.
It's gonna take cold winters at Valley Forge.
It's gonna take losses.
General Washington, he was a great general, to be able to uplift his army during Valley Forge during that winter and still be able to fight.
I wish I would have been there, I wish I could have fought for him, because I damn sure would have.
But Washington's army soon faces an enemy far more lethal than the British.
Smallpox.
The revolution breaks out during the worst smallpox epidemic in US history.
The deadly airborne virus spreads through the British prison ships.
Isolated from the disease for generations, the American colonists have little resistance to it-- and there's no cure.
Victims break out in blisters and sores.
The virus spreads through the blood, invading healthy cells, which it kills, producing more of the virus in the process.
Four in ten victims die.
Once smallpox arrives at Valley Forge, it spreads through the cramped huts like wildfire.
Washington survived smallpox as a child.
Now he decides to take a gamble with one of the most daring experiments in US military history.
Surgeons have learned about inoculation from African slaves.
They harvest pus from a smallpox victim and smear the live virus into cuts on the skin of a healthy patient.
The inoculation spreads the infection, but at a slower rate.
A week after exposure, the victim's white blood cells create antibodies.
These attack and kill the virus that causes smallpox before the disease can spread.
But it's a dangerous race against time.
To survive, the patient's immune system has to work faster than the virus, or it will run out of control.
One in 50 of those inoculated will die.
But Washington's gamble pays off.
New cases of smallpox fall from several thousand to just a few dozen.
But to win the war against the British, Washington turns to an unlikely hero who will transform his ragtag militia into a formidable fighting machine.
George Washington's Patriot Army survives a hard winter and an outbreak of smallpox at Valley Forge.
Now Washington introduces a new recruit who will change the course of the war.
Baron von Steuben is an ex-Prussian Army officer, an elite soldier whose career is said to have been ruined by his homosexuality.
But Washington makes him one of the most powerful men in his command.
Washington was a genius in taking people in who didn't seem like they could achieve great things, but under him, they rose to the challenge, they rose to the occasion.
And that's what great leaders do.
Von Steuben's task: Reinvent the demoralized Patriot Army so they can take on the British in a close fight.
Our arms are in horrible condition, covered with rust.
Our men are literally naked, some to the fullest extent of the word.
Von Steuben starts by drilling discipline into Washington's ragtag recruits.
The men are unlike any he has ever trained before.
The genius of this nation is not in the least to be compared with that of the Prussians or Austrians or French.
You say to your soldier, "Do this," and he does it.
But here, I am obliged to say, "This is the reason why you ought to do that," and then he does it.
Von Steuben brings order, discipline and hygiene to Valley Forge.
He moves latrines away from living quarters, rebuilds the kitchens on the opposite side of the camp, and organizes housing according to regiments and companies.
His biggest contribution, he writes a manual on military training, with methods that are still in use today.
Faster ! Von Steuben's drills European battle tactics into an elite corps of 100 men.
Up, soldier ! Move ! Each will train 100 more.
He also teaches them a new and deadly weapon the bayonet.
Bayonet fighting will prove pivotal in the battles ahead.
Bayonets allow rifles to double as spears, making close hand-to-hand combat possible without reloading.
But it's not just new weapons and skills Von Steuben gives the Patriots, it's a new attitude.
You know, we can talk about weapons and how certain weapons change the face of warfare, which is absolutely true, but the greatest weapon that you can ever have is right up here.
Men like Plumb Martin leave Valley Forge highly skilled killers.
While they retrain, another secret war has been raging in British-occupied New York.
Here, a network of spies has been busy passing information to the Rebels.
Their leader is George Washington himself.
A man who's come down to us in history as someone who is incapable of telling a lie, succeeds as a commander in no small measure because of his capacity for deception.
A British general will later claim that Washington did not outfight his enemies, but out-spy them.
Now his French allies come under deadly threat, and only his secret army of spies can save them from disaster.
In New York, an estimated 20% of the population is still loyal to the British.
Food costs are up 800%.
One young woman in five is a prostitute.
To the British, New York merchant Robert Townsend is a loyalist.
A member of the loyalist militia, he writes for the loyalist press.
But to Washington's spy network, his code name is "Culper Jr.
," a fact that was only discovered in 1939.
Culper's gang will change the course of the war.
By July 1781, New York is buzzing with rumor.
A French fleet has been sighted off Rhode Island.
News leaks out that the British plan to send warships from New York for a surprise attack.
Culper must get word to Washington to somehow stop the British fleet.
The spies use invisible ink.
An advanced formula unknown to the British, the ink is made from gallic acid.
It can only be revealed by brushing the paper in liquid iron sulfate.
The next link in the chain is Austin Roe, a tavern owner from Long Island.
His contact, Abraham Woodhull, picks up the message and buries it at a secret drop.
Another agent, Ann Smith Strong, then uses her laundry as a secret code.
It signals a sailor who picks up the message and takes it to Washington.
Washington moves troops towards New York, threatening the city, forcing the British fleet to stay put in New York Harbor.
The French fleet sails out of danger.
It will play a critical role in the next stage of the war.
Now, with a spy network and a modern army backed by French naval power, Washington is ready for a final showdown.
Come on ! October 1781.
Six years into a war the British thought would last six months, the American Revolution comes to a head at Yorktown, Virginia.
In trenches around the fortified city, Plumb Martin, now a sergeant, waits with 8, 000 other Patriot soldiers for the signal to attack.
Washington's army has reinvented itself with sharpshooters Left ! with training, discipline and new weapons and with a spy network that has saved the French fleet, giving the Rebels dominance at sea.
What remains of the British Army is under siege in Yorktown.
Trapped in the city, the redcoats wait for reinforcements, but back in Britain, the war is unpopular and costing far too much money.
This is a case of hanging on in the face of the- the British actions long enough to where the British literally would grow weary of this and realize that it was endless.
This is Washington's chance to end the war with one decisive blow.
He committed to this idea of being able to stand on your own.
See, America is a dream, and the only way to go get that dream is to show up and bring your very best to that moment and not stop until you bring that dream into existence.
Plumb Martin will be one of the first over the top.
Godspeed.
How are you doing, my friend ? Good, how are you ? I better check it out.
Behind Yorktown's defenses, 9,000 battle-hardened British troops are waiting.
They're protected by a series of outlying cannon forts called redoubts.
By October 14th, just two remain.
If they're captured and their guns turned on Yorktown, the British will be forced to surrender.
How's it look up there ? It's time.
All the batteries in our line lay silent.
We lay anxiously waiting for the signal.
Patriots race 100 yards to the British lines under fire and a hail of hand grenades.
Come on ! Come on ! A force of 400 break through and storm the British fort.
Fighting in close combat with bayonets, they beat the redcoats back.
Immediately after the fighting had ceased, I went out to see what had become of my wounded friend.
He was dead.
34 of Martin's comrades lie dead or wounded but they've breached Yorktown's defenses.
Two days later, the British surrender and begin negotiations for peace.
For the past six years, leadership training, weapons and intelligence have been vital.
The Rebels have achieved the impossible.
The United States is the only country to win independence from the British in war.
On April 30, 1789, Washington is inaugurated first president of the United States of America under the new constitution.
But liberty comes at a price.
Over 25,000 men have lost their lives in the battle for independence but a new nation is born.
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.