The Good Morning Virginia is a classroom reading for students to understand some of the destruction that occurred before Jack Jouett made his life saving ride.
This is designed to be read by students. It could be broken up, not read all at one time. The students should have the material in time to practice reading it at home before they do it as a morning news report, like the Today Show or the Good Morning America shows. It would be great if the file could be shown so the students not reading could follow along. (That old seeing and hearing thing!)
19 Readers are needed for this dialogue:
Anchor # 2
Anchor # 3
Reporters #1- #12
Neighbors # 12 and # 13
Citizens # 14 and 15
Good Morning, Virginia
Anchor #1: Good morning, Virginia! This is channel number “1781” the station with old news. We have news from the past. If you are a Virginia patriot, I can tell how you feel today. That’s bad. Events in the state have gone from bad to really terrible.
Anchor 2: Yes, the British are making steady progress. Their quest to conquer Virginia is almost complete. We were the largest, wealthiest and strongest state. That is not true today. We’ve been dealt too much personal and public destruction and war losses. We can never rebuild our military supply system again.
Anchor # 3: As it looks today, the redcoats will win this war. When we have to surrender, it will signal the end of our country’s glorious Revolution. When we fall, the rest of the colonies will soon follow. Then, all the colonies will be back under King George III’s terrible control.
Anchor 2: And you can bet our leaders will be taken to Britain and hanged as traitors.
Anchor #1: I can’t imagine General George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and Patrick Henry hanging from the gallows in that far away place.
Anchor # 3: Yes, we are losing the war. It won’t be long before it’s all over. Now, I want to bring those of you up to date who don’t know how our conditions turned so bad so quickly. Let’s first take a look at the ever-changing minds of the enemy.
Anchor #1: Our problems started when British Lord Cornwallis decided Virginia’s military supply system had to be destroyed. Cornwallis had to stop the flow of men, horses, guns and even food. Virginia supported the patriots in the north. We were also supporting General Green’s men in the more southern states.
Anchor # 2: Cornwallis is right. Virginia had to be beaten first. Then the rest of the southern states would quickly fall.
Anchor #1: Up in New York, the British have done nothing but sit behind the forts around New York City. They watch General George Washington’s army. Washington has them surrounded. Week after week the two armies watch each other.
Anchor 3: Washington will never win the war that way. New York City is located on the water. And, the British have ships supplying and supporting the redcoats. They can hold on forever. The British control the seas.
Anchor # 1: And the rivers around New York City.
Anchor # 3: And the Chesapeake Bay…
Anchor # 2: and all the rivers of Virginia.
Anchor # 1: Without a navy, we will never be able to conquer them.
Anchor # 2: And this leads us to the terrible conditions in Virginia.
Anchor # 3: The bad news here in Virginia started last January when Benedict Arnold arrived. You know the traitor is now fighting for the British. Anyway, they sailed into Virginia waters and went up the James River to dismantle our new capital of Richmond. Enemy soldiers have been in Virginia ever since.
Anchor # 2: Yes, we have not had any British soldiers permanently stationed here since we won the Battle of Great Bridge in December 1775. We were free to send materials of all kinds out to the armies in other states. Now the enemy has been here for the past six months. All our soldiers are fighting in other parts of the country. So our land is completely unguarded. No wonder they are beating us so badly.
Anchor # 3: We have no army here to protect anyone or anything. Private homes, a gun foundry where we were making new weapons, tons of tobacco and civic records have been destroyed. And it is true: you burn our tobacco you burn our money!
Anchor # 2: The gun foundry is a great loss.
Anchor # 1: First it was Arnold in January with 1800 soldiers. Then their General Phillips came with his army. And General Leslie arrived with more redcoats. And finally Cornwallis came. So now there are 7000 redcoats roaming around our state stealing, destroying and burning where ever they go.
Anchor # 2: In the town of Petersburg, homes and tobacco warehouses were burned.
Anchor # 3: The British still have complete control of the rivers. They can put their men and horses on boats and quickly move them from one place to another. That way, they can surprise and destroy our stuff before, we know they are near.
Anchor # 2: They are constantly stealing our best horses.
Anchor #1: Not only our best, but all of our horses. I do mean all of them.
Anchor # 2: The more men they can put on horseback, the faster they can cover territory.
Anchor # 3: And, they have been all over Virginia, destroying, tearing down and burning up.
Anchor # 2: So let’s go to our first reporter,__(use real name of student)___________ who is stationed on the James River near the mouth of the (Chick a hom i ny) Chickahominy River.
1st Reporter: Yes, this is ___(students real name)____________I’m here on the James River near what used to be the Chickahominy Shipyard. It was a busy shipyard. Now it is burned to the ground. It’s just a smoking ruin. An unfinished 20-gun boat was burned in the stocks. Another boat the Jefferson was destroyed. A blacksmith shop and several other small buildings and shops were destroyed. This shipyard cannot be replaced. It’s just gone. … I’m going to send you up the James River to (Reporter #2) ___(students real name)____________ who is where the Appomattox River flows into the James. It’s a place called Osborne’s Wharf.
2nd Reporter: I’m ___(students real name)____________at Osborne’s Wharf where there were a number of boats belonging to the Virginia Navy. Not long ago the British came here and burned or captured twelve private merchant ships and nine boats of the Virginia Navy. Boats holding two thousand hogsheads of tobacco were also captured. The navy boats were undermanned and didn’t have guns and ammunition to fight off the British. This attack has put the Virginia Navy out of business.
Anchor #1: I believe there are maybe two ships left. I understand one captain has sunk his own ship in the Nansemond River. He hopes to refloat it after the British have gone from Virginia waters. Now we are going to check in with our reporter # 3 who is outside of Richmond.
Anchor # 3: It was only about a year ago that Richmond became our new state capital.
3rd Reporter: Yes, this is (name of reporter # 3)____________and I’m at the Chesterfield Courthouse outside of Richmond. The British have recently been here. They burned all the county records and damaged the courthouse. Burning records is a good way to cause problems for us. They know that without proof of who owns what property, some people will try to take land that doesn’t belong to them. That can lead to civil unrest, and to citizens fighting each other. That helps the British. Then they can divide us. We began to fight each other. It will make it easier for them to beat us….I’m going to send you to Reporter #4 ___(students real name)____________who is moving with General Lafayette’s army somewhere north of Richmond.
4th Reporter: I’m ___(students real name)____________with Lafayette and his small patriot army. Yes, we are on the move again. General Lafayette told me his army is too small and too poorly equipped to even fight Cornwallis and his large army. We are constantly retreating pulling Cornwallis away from the coast where they have ships to resupply their army. The men are tired and poorly fed. There are no rations available. And no one has the time to hunt and bring in meat.
Anchor #1: I hate to break in but we have some more bad news. Because of the long time British blockade of the Chesapeake Bay, much of Virginia’s commerce has been passing through the Ocracoke Inlet. That’s in the North Carolina Outer Banks area. Then the boats go up the back rivers to a place called South Quay located outside Suffolk. Let’s go to a local reporter somewhere in the vicinity.
5th Reporter: This is___(students real name)____________ I’m here at South Quay. It was a very good shallow-water port. And, it was a one that covered one hundred and thirty-two acres. It had one mile of river frontage that was nine feet deep. That gave a lot of space to tie up and unload several boats at the same time. This was a busy port. The place was important as an import, export, storage, ship-building, and transportation center. There was important and much needed artillery and ammunition stored here. Now the place is gone. It was burned to the ground.
Anchor #3: We have to break now for a commercial message from our sponsors. (time for a student who has a good sense of humor to have an empty container (teacher brings in) and do an ad lib selling act.)
Anchor #3: Welcome back and while we were in the commercial break, we learned that Speaker of the House, of the General Assembly, Benjamin Harrison, had to leave his home (Berkley) on the James River shortly before Arnold arrived. I’m going to our Reporter # 6___(students real name)____________ who is at Berkley the home of Benjamin Harrison.
6th Reporter: Yes, this is ___(students real name)__________ The redcoats ransacked the house. The soldiers piled family portraits, that were not replaceable, and furniture in a heap in the yard and burned all of them. They also destroyed crops and livestock. Hundreds of redcoats and camp followers camped on the property so the land, crops and buildings were ruined.
Anchor #1: We also have news that Speaker of the Senate, Archibald Cary, had his James River mills burned to the ground by Arnold.
Anchor # 2: We have an email from a man, named Martin Henning, at Monticello. He says he is high in the mountains, and has an extraordinary view of the James River. He can see the devastation being wrought by the British along the James River as the smoke from the burning houses and property rises in the horizon at a distance for twenty-five or thirty miles.
Anchor #1: Now we are going to the Potomac River with _________reporter # 7.
7th Reporter: There are five British ships are in the Potomac River. Most of them are sending raiding parties ashore to get much needed food and water. The redcoats first try to buy food from the citizens. If the citizens refuse, the enemy forces the families outside. Then they set fire to their houses, barns and tobacco and other crops.
Anchor #1: Let’s go to ___(students real name)____________Reporter # 7 who is on the Potomac River.
8th Reporter: I’m here on the Potomac River where the British raiding parties are looting and causing total destruction. I can stand on the side of the river and see trails of smoke rising high in the air. The red glow from the many fires look like a reddish fall evening. Trails of smoke from burning homes are picked up by the winds and lifted to the sky. That red glow and smoke are a warning to people living on down the river of the evil coming their way.
9th Reporter: From where I am, further up the river, it looks like they are burning not only private homes, but also tobacco warehouses, crops and small manufacturing businesses.
Anchor # 2: I hate to interrupt: This is a flash news bulletin. We have word that Mount Vernon on the Potomac River, the home of General George Washington, has been raided. We don’t know how bad the raid was or if Martha Washington, the General’s wife was at home or not. This has huge potential. If they have taken her, they could keep her as a prisoner of war. What if they refused to release Martha Washington?
Anchor 1: Surely, they would not hold the General’s wife as a bargaining tool. How could General Washington still manage to carry on the war with her in British hands?
Anchor # 2: We must get more information about this as soon as possible. I hope they don’t burn Washington’s home while he is away serving his country.
Anchor #3: We will let you know when we get any information on Martha Washington and her location. But now we need to go to a news reporter in Hanover County at the home of Ann Nicholas. She is widow of Robert Carter Nicholas a former colonial treasurer.
10th Reporter: __This is_(students real name)____________I’m here in Hanover County where General Cornwallis and his British army including camp followers and freed blacks have camped on the Nicholas farm. They have taken crops, cattle, hogs, sheep and chickens for their meals. They cooked the meat over fires that burned fences and outbuildings they had torn down. They have left nothing for the family to eat this winter. It’s a terrible sight to see.
Anchor # 2: Let’s go to a local reporter from Point of Fork.
11th Reporter: This ___(students real name)____________ I’m at Point of Fork. I arrived here to find that British Colonel Simcoe and his men have destroyed a number of war materials: 2500 stands of arms, 150 barrels of gun powder and shot, a 13 inch mortar, five brass long range cannon and four other brass cannon.
They have destroyed a large quantity of salt peter and sulfur needed for making gun powder. Also destroyed are brandy and a great variety of small items necessary for the equipping of cavalry and infantry. The militia captain who tried to keep the British from taking the fort said there were just too many redcoats to fight off. They were heavily outnumbered.
Anchor #1: I’m getting a report that the Virginia General Assembly has disbanded and left Charlottesville. They had gone there to escape when traitor Benedict Arnold approached the Richmond the capital. We don’t know if they have moved as a group or just disbanded and sought shelter in the mountains. By now, Governor Thomas Jefferson’s term of office has ended. I understand he was not seeking reelection and would not serve is elected. We do not have a Governor now. Our state is without militia, a governor and guns enough to even hamper the redcoats.
Anchor # 2: We have not gotten any news of the whereabouts of Martha Washington yet. We do know the British have raided Mount Vernon. We don’t have a list of destruction there. And, we still don’t have information about Martha Washington and if she was home at the time. We will continue to work on that situation. Now we go to ___(students real name)____________reporter # 12 who is at one of Jefferson’s farms in Goochland County named Elk Hill.
12th Reporter: Yes, this is ___(students real name)____________reporter # 12 at Mr. Jefferson’s Elk Hill farm. After Cornwallis and his seven thousand soldiers spent ten days camping in the corn and tobacco fields of Elk Hill there is not much left to harvest. In addition to the soldiers, there were hundreds of camp followers that included wives and children that needed to be fed. A neighbor with me estimates that four thousand freed blacks travelled with the soldiers for whom they worked.
13th Neighbor: I’ve heard that wherever Cornwallis camps with his soldiers, the camp followers and the blacks, that location becomes the largest city in Virginia.
12th Reporter: It looks like a city marched through here. The army brought devastation at Elk Hill far and wide. Not content with burning the barns that contained crops harvested during the prior year, they tore down and burned fences and outbuildings. They took the horses and cattle and cut the throats of the colts too young to be useful.
13th Neighbor: The British soldiers also raided homes around here. They took food and plunder in my area. However, Elk Hill suffered the worst.
Anchor #1: And now we have a brave citizen who is will to speak on camera about the conditions in Virginia at this time. He is at our studio so we return there briefly.
14th Citizen: Yes, I’m afraid that in this chaos, our state leadership is dysfunctional and demoralized. Mr. Jefferson was caught napping and did not call out the militia. He said he did not have the authority. If the Governor of the state cannot call the militia out then we need to make some changes in our state constitution. The redcoats have taken advantage of the poor leadership. I believe the war is about to come to an end. We cannot survive this and still support the armies both in New York area and in the more southern states.
Anchor # 2: And now we go to a citizen who reports what the General Assembly was thinking before they left Charlottesville.
15th Citizen: One of the younger men of the General Assembly, a George Nicholas, moved the Assembly to appoint a Dictator..in this Commonwealth who should have the power of disposing of the lives and fortunes of the Citizens without being accountable Nicholas suggested either General Washington or General Nathaniel Green be chosen.
Anchor # 2: I understand that Patrick Henry has supported the motion. The idea of an all powerful leader will probably spread.
Anchor #1: Richard Henry Lee will probably urge the Congress in Philadelphia to send Washington back to Virginia as a dictator to take over the state.
Anchor # 3: We have just learned that Martha Washington is safe. She was not at Mount Vernon when it was raided. And Mount Vernon was not burned.
Anchor #1: And now before we go to our regular programming, we have a sweet bit of news.
It seems that a man in Louisa County happened to see Colonel Banastre Tarleton and about 250 of his men ride by an unlikely place called the Clock Inn. No, wait a minute, it is the Cuckoo Tavern. This young man figured that the British were going to Charlottesville to capture outgoing governor Thomas Jefferson and the entire General Assembly.
Anchor #3: This man, Jack Jouett, rode all night and got to Jefferson at Monticello and the General Assembly gentlemen in time to warn them and thereby helped them escape capture by the British. So I close this news report by saying “thank you Jack Jouett” you have saved the men who will save Virginia and the Revolution.
Editors Note: Because it was less than 3 months before Cornwallis was trapped at Yorktown the Virginia military support around the country was not needed. And when General Thomas Nelson, Jr. was finally made Governor (after 18 days without a sworn in leader) we had a man who was a great organizer and he had able men to serve with him. Washington’s army was collecting food and cattle as they came south. Virginia was ready to receive Rochambeau’s French soldiers and General George Washington’s American troops for Cornwallis’ last American stand.