Retracing George Washington’s battles helps Temple ROTC cadets learn leadership
To cap off their final semester of studies, 17 senior Temple Army ROTC cadets followed in the footsteps of George Washington as part of the third annual Trenton/Princeton Campaign staff ride.
Led by military leaders, staff rides offer a chance to study historic battles and learn about military tactics and leadership. For the April 17 ride, students researched and reconstructed the routes that Washington took to attack the Hessians at Trenton on December 26, 1776, and the British at Princeton on January 3, 1777.
As part of their final exam in the course, each of the cadets took the part of an American, British or Hessian officer who figured prominently in the campaign and briefed the group at various stops as they traced Washington's route during what is referred to as the "Ten Crucial Days" of the American Revolution.
"The staff ride is a great way for the cadets to get a first-hand look at the landscape of the actual battlefields at Trenton and Princeton and examine different leadership philosophies," said Lt. Col. James Castelli, professor of military science at Temple and head of Temple Army ROTC.
For the trip, Temple History Professor Greg Urwin dressed as a Revolutionary War soldier to highlight how military dress, in addition to equipment, weapons and tactics have changed in 230 years.
"My role as a historian is to provide the cadets with a better idea of 18th-century military material culture, weapons systems and tactics," said Urwin. "The ride drives home the importance of terrain, weather and other environmental factors in military operations."
According to Castelli, the Trenton/Princeton staff ride is a great opportunity for cadets to learn from the past.
"In ROTC, we can't teach our cadets everything about being soldiers, but we can and do teach them about leadership and good decision-making," said Castelli. "The Trenton/Princeton staff ride is a great opportunity to teach the cadets best practices in a hands-on environment."