And that explains the last puzzle. I just checked: tcsh does history substitution even inside single-quotes. I've never used it, I hear it has other gratuitous inconsistencies.
You're still very new to shells, may I recommend you switch to bash if only to get yourself on a shell most people will unthinkingly presume you're using? It'll be a little different but shouldn't be too hard.
The command to do it is "chsh -s /bin/bash
". "cat /etc/shells
" to get a list of the options it'll accept on your system if you're curious.