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This Day In History December 25, 1776 Washington crosses the Delaware
http://www.historychannel.com/tdih/tdih.jsp?category=general&month=10272964&day=10272990 ^

Posted on 12/25/2005 3:56:59 AM PST by mainepatsfan

This Day In History | General Interest

December 25

1776 Washington crosses the Delaware

During the American Revolution, Patriot General George Washington crosses the Delaware River with 5,400 troops, hoping to surprise a Hessian force celebrating Christmas at their winter quarters in Trenton, New Jersey. The unconventional attack came after several months of substantial defeats for Washington's army that had resulted in the loss of New York City and other strategic points in the region.

At about 11 p.m. on Christmas, Washington's army commenced its crossing of the half-frozen river at three locations. The 2,400 soldiers led by Washington successfully braved the icy and freezing river and reached the New Jersey side of the Delaware just before dawn. The other two divisions, made up of some 3,000 men and crucial artillery, failed to reach the meeting point at the appointed time.

At approximately 8 a.m. on the morning of December 26, Washington's remaining force, separated into two columns, reached the outskirts of Trenton and descended on the unsuspecting Hessians. Trenton's 1,400 Hessian defenders were groggy from the previous evening's festivities and underestimated the Patriot threat after months of decisive British victories throughout New York. Washington's men quickly overwhelmed the Germans' defenses, and by 9:30 a.m. the town was surrounded. Although several hundred Hessians escaped, nearly 1,000 were captured at the cost of only four American lives. However, because most of Washington's army had failed to cross the Delaware, he was without adequate artillery or men and was forced to withdraw from the town.

The victory was not particularly significant from a strategic point of view, but news of Washington's initiative raised the spirits of the American colonists, who previously feared that the Continental Army was incapable of victory.


TOPICS: Miscellaneous; US: Delaware; US: New Jersey; United Kingdom
KEYWORDS: americanhistory; americanrevolution; georgewashington; revolutionarywar

1 posted on 12/25/2005 3:57:01 AM PST by mainepatsfan
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To: mainepatsfan

WTG GW!


2 posted on 12/25/2005 4:01:57 AM PST by Fierce Allegiance (I miss my dad.)
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To: mainepatsfan

It is worth mentioning that the Hessians did not celebrate Christmas by decorating trees and opening presents; they celebrated by getting mind-splittingly drunk. General Washington kept his troops in line and took full advantage of the enemy's dissolution.

Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night.


3 posted on 12/25/2005 4:05:00 AM PST by ReignOfError
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To: Fierce Allegiance

Many other men would have sent a message to Howe attempting to cut a deal to save his own neck.


4 posted on 12/25/2005 4:05:18 AM PST by mainepatsfan
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To: ReignOfError

His troops didn't get to Trenton until 8:00 but the Hessians were still sleeping it off. Any other day and he couldn't have pulled it off.


5 posted on 12/25/2005 4:07:31 AM PST by mainepatsfan
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To: mainepatsfan
If the NY Times was around they never would've gotten away with it.
6 posted on 12/25/2005 4:15:37 AM PST by BallyBill (Serial Hit-N-Run poster)
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To: mainepatsfan

One of the defining moments in American military history - a bold, unconventional attack which achieved success.


7 posted on 12/25/2005 4:22:42 AM PST by Old Sarge (In a Hole in the Ground, there Lived a Fobbit...)
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To: mainepatsfan

pingy


8 posted on 12/25/2005 4:30:33 AM PST by sure_fine (*not one to over kill the thought process*)
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To: BallyBill

Washington would have been ripped for prolonging the blood shed.


9 posted on 12/25/2005 4:32:30 AM PST by mainepatsfan
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To: Old Sarge

It was an all or nothing gamble but he had no choice.


10 posted on 12/25/2005 4:33:12 AM PST by mainepatsfan
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To: mainepatsfan

I will make my yearly post of the story of Washington Crossing the Delaware a little later. Thanks for your post.

I do have to disagree with the History Channel on one thing and that is their assertion that the Battle of Trenton didn't have much strategic significance. The crossing and battle, set off a chain of events (the 10 Crucial Days) that changed the course of the Revolution forever. Never again did the forces of the Crown have as good an oppurtunity to achieve victory as they did before December 25, 1776.

The Crossing, the 1st Battle of Trenton (December 26) and the subsequent 2nd Battle of Trenton (January 2, 1777) along with the Battle of Princeton (January 3, 1777) ended any British hopes of holding New Jersey and defeating the Rebellion.

P.S. - the Hessian soldiers were not hung over, that is legend not fact. Some of their officers (e.g. Colonel Rall) did attend drinking parties the evening before but the enlistedmen were allowed no such pleasures.


11 posted on 12/25/2005 4:41:11 AM PST by XRdsRev (New Jersey is the Crossroads of the American Revolution 1775-1783)
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To: mainepatsfan

Read 1776 by David McCullough.


12 posted on 12/25/2005 4:41:15 AM PST by Mercat (Merry Christmas and a Blessed New Year, oh, and Happy Holy Days)
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To: mainepatsfan

His troops didn't get to Trenton until 8:00 but the Hessians were still sleeping it off. Any other day and he couldn't have pulled it off.

You sound disappointed?


13 posted on 12/25/2005 4:51:12 AM PST by armydawg1 (" America must win this war..." PVT Martin Treptow, KIA, WW1)
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To: XRdsRev

I agree with your disagreement.


14 posted on 12/25/2005 4:57:26 AM PST by mainepatsfan
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To: Mercat

I have. One of the best books I've read in years.


15 posted on 12/25/2005 4:57:45 AM PST by mainepatsfan
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To: armydawg1

Heck no.


16 posted on 12/25/2005 4:58:53 AM PST by mainepatsfan
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To: mainepatsfan
I live close to Washington's crossing on the NJ side. It is a very pretty spot to visit any time of year and a great place to take a long bike ride with the family. If anyone is driving down I-95 going across the Delaware River a stop over is worth it.
17 posted on 12/25/2005 5:49:35 AM PST by trashcanbred (Anti-social and anti-socialist)
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To: mainepatsfan

Sounds like those Hessians partied like it was 1799 !!!


18 posted on 12/25/2005 5:50:57 AM PST by Chi-townChief
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To: trashcanbred

Yet another site I have to visit.


19 posted on 12/25/2005 6:05:49 AM PST by mainepatsfan
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To: BallyBill

NY Times Headlines (December 25th):

WASHINGTON'S DELAWARE CROSSING A FAILURE!
(LIBERALS QUESTION ATTACKING HESSIANS DURING HOLIDAY)


20 posted on 12/25/2005 6:06:28 AM PST by Neal_Lineberry
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To: mainepatsfan















Washing tonStarted that whole Row vs Wade thing








w


21 posted on 12/25/2005 6:07:13 AM PST by al baby (Father of the beeber)
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To: trashcanbred
We are happy to have been able to live right at the site of Washington's Crossing on the other side of the river for over one score years. We'll have thousands and thousands of visitors here in a few hours for the annual reinactment. Current conditions are fog and 34 degF. River was in a good stage yesterday -- hopefully they WILL cross. No ice at all. Unlike the the original crew in the hard night of 1776 the reinactors of two-aught-aught are dang finicky and have waltzed the narrow bridge on foot when river conditions at 1 PM daylight aren't exactly still and calm.

Still,they do make a fine and education affair of it all -- the costumes, campfires, tents, pomp, and even in recent the two-aught-aught's very nice and spirited horses.

Spirited enough to give one play-acted General Washington a serious ankle sprain. The reinactor responded with as bursque and dread an oath as Washington himself was said to have at appropriate times emitted. Thankfully for us modern viewers his wireless mike was off.

22 posted on 12/25/2005 6:08:17 AM PST by bvw
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To: Neal_Lineberry

More from the NY Times story:

ACLU outraged that Washington detained innoncent civilians to keep his crossing a secret!


23 posted on 12/25/2005 6:10:56 AM PST by mainepatsfan
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To: mainepatsfan

24 posted on 12/25/2005 6:29:12 AM PST by cornelis
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To: cornelis

Great picture although I'm pretty sure Washington was properly seated during the crossing.


25 posted on 12/25/2005 6:33:25 AM PST by mainepatsfan
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To: mainepatsfan

Yes, and his clothes weren't made of oil paint.

OK, Merry Christmas.


26 posted on 12/25/2005 6:37:03 AM PST by cornelis
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To: Mercat

Read "Washingtons Crossing" by David Hackett Fischer. Outstanding!


27 posted on 12/25/2005 7:21:55 AM PST by buckeyesailor
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To: indcons; Chani; thefactor; blam; aculeus; ELS; Doctor Raoul; mainepatsfan; timpad; ...
Hitting the Ye Olde RevWar/Colonial History/Gen. Washington Pinge List.

Please Freepmail me to get ON or OFF this list.

Merrie Christmas All!

Your Obdt. Svt.
P______y

28 posted on 12/25/2005 7:25:38 AM PST by Pharmboy (The stone age didn't end because they ran out of stones.)
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To: Pharmboy

Merrie Christmas, Pharmboy :)

indcons


29 posted on 12/25/2005 7:31:44 AM PST by indcons (FReepmail indcons to get on/off the Military History ping list)
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To: buckeyesailor
Right. Fischer totally debunks the "Hessians were hung over" myth.

It's one of the best books I ever read on the Revolutionary War...and I've read many.

30 posted on 12/25/2005 7:47:39 AM PST by LisaFab
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To: Justin
WASHINGTON MISREPRESENTS DELAWARE CROSSING
ADVERSE WEATHER REPORT WITHHELD FROM TROOPS

Dateline 12/24/76 nytimes "Washington lied"
said an unnamed reporter embedded with General
Washington's embittered troops waiting to cross
the ice-jumbled Delaware River. "He told us that
a warm spell was coming" said the threadbare
man standing barefoot in two feet of cold snow.

"And worse, I saw General Washington look away while
American troops mistreated two captured Hessian
prisoners. One they rode like a pony and the other
they made quack like a duck." he said in disbelief.

As readers of the can see this war cannot be won.
Now is the time to cut our losses and petition
the King. Later, after General Washington becomes
President we can impeach him for high crimes and re-institute our working arrangement with our English friends overseas.
31 posted on 12/25/2005 7:56:46 AM PST by the final gentleman
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To: Pharmboy
GREATEST 19th CENTURY WAR PAINTING EVER!

The ORIGINAL GW kicked some Limey and Hessian a-s soon after.

32 posted on 12/25/2005 8:13:30 AM PST by Clemenza (Smartest words ever written by a Communist: "Show me the way to the next Whiskey Bar")
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To: cll; Prophet in the wilderness; XRdsRev

 


33 posted on 12/25/2005 11:38:04 AM PST by Fintan (MERRY CHRISTMAS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!So there!!!!)
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To: mainepatsfan
"Trenton's 1,400 Hessian defenders were groggy from the previous evening's festivities."

The Hessians were strictly observant German Reformed (i.e., Calvinists), who would customarily sing psalms and chorales on the march and in battle. Each battalion has its own chaplain, and prayer services were held on Wednesdays and Sundays. They were not a band of drunken pirates.

As Calvinists, they did not celebrate Christmas in the same way that American propagandists have described. Some of the more extreme Calvinists (e.g. Oliver Cromwell) even considered such celebrations blasphemous, and a residue of Popish paganism.

Trenton was an exposed salient, lacking any close support from other posts, with the men of the garrison exhausted and on constant alert. While Colonel Rall may have been drunk or hung over, the men and other officers assuredly were not.

The major reason for Rall's defeat was that he did not make any provision for using the houses of Trenton as defensive positions, but rather established a routine whereby the three battalions were to form up at pre-arranged places des armes. This routine was based on the flawed assumption that the brigade would then move OUT of Trenton to encounter the enemy. Rall, relying exclusively on the competence of his outposts, made no provision for defending the town itself.

So when the alarm was sounded, the battalions attempted to assemble according to plan. But this was hampered by cannister from well-sited American battalion pieces.

And as if this were not bad enough, after the battalions were formed, Rall decided to try and RETAKE the town, rather than cut his losses, break out of the encirclement, and fall back on von Donop who had the rest of the grenadier brigade at Bordentown.

About one third of the total command DID break out of the encirclement, and another third might have been able to had they not received the pre-emptive command to surrender after Rall was mortally wounded.

Grogginess had nothing whatsoever to do with it. And it astounds me that "historians" continue to belittle Washington's military prowess by ignoring what he actually DID do (a successful atttack by converging columns under extremely adverse conditions) and replacing it with the myth of Hessian drunkenness.

34 posted on 12/25/2005 11:59:05 AM PST by Goetz_von_Berlichingen
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To: mainepatsfan
( http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/1546874/posts?page=16#16)
From another post on FreeRepublic:

((( Nine miles south in Trenton, New Jersey, a force of over 1500 Hessian and British soldiers rested while the nor'easter blew in.
Despite legends to the contrary, they were not celebrating nor drunk.
These were professional soldiers, with iron discipline, they were ready and willing to fight.
They were however tired.
Constant patrolling and attacks by American militia had fatigued these men.
The blowing storm gave them a welcome chance to rest and regain their strength.
In this very bad weather, it was doubtful that the Americans would cause any problems.
Their commander Colonel Johann Rall attended a small Christmas party that night, arriving after midnight.
Rall had been delayed by a meeting with his officers to discuss a deadly attack that had taken place upon his pickets that day.
Rall was a kind commander to his men and friendly to local civilians.
Because of the bad weather he had allowed his officers to cut short the patrol routes that night, so their men would not suffer in the cold and sleet.
Shortly after midnight there was a knock on the door and a servant from a local Tory family presented the Colonel with a scribbled note.
Not realizing its importance and wanting to return to his kind hosts, Rall put the note in his pocket without reading it. Too late, the next day when the note was finally found and read, it warned that a force of 2500 rebels were crossing the Delaware a few miles north at McKonkey's Ferry.
It was just more than the Hessians not waking up when they were suppose to. )))



Colonel Rall the night before told his troops to take the day off early from their post and patrols because the weather was bad and his troops needed a rest.
Another misjudgment from Colonel Rall was ?
That there were reports of American troops around their area and there were a few small skirmishes between Rall's troops and the Americans Christmas day and Rall thought that ( THAT ) was what was part of Washington's troops that were reported from Rall's own scouting reports, not knowing ? that Washington's main force was on it's way the next morning ).
A blunder that Rall wished ( well 2 blunders ) he could take back was ?
Not keeping his vigilance of his patrols and keeping a watch out on the American army.
2 nd blunder was that Rall received a message that was on a note that he received while he was at a Christmas party that he was attending, and didn't give it a 2 nd thought to read it.
That message was a report that Washington's main force was spotted.
The battle a Trenton was not really a strategic victory, but, rather, it was a moral boost for the American troops and Washington....
However ? who's to say that if Washington and his troops would have been defeated that day, the war might have ended right there and then.
There would be other moments during the war that would be just as dark, and test Washington and his troops.
35 posted on 12/25/2005 5:06:59 PM PST by Prophet in the wilderness (PSALM 53 : 1 The FOOL hath said in his heart , There is no GOD .)
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To: XRdsRev
The victory was not particularly significant from a strategic point of view, but news of Washington's initiative raised the spirits of the American colonists, who previously feared that the Continental Army was incapable of victory.

You are correct that the above is not accurate. The History Channel ought to actually read some history. While the battle of Trenton was not what many consider a major engagement, it, along with the battle of Princton forced the British to withdraw from New Jersey that winter taking the pressure off of Philadelphia and giving Washington time to rebuild his battered force. It is also wrong that the Hessian soldiers were too hungover to fight. That is a myth. They were tough professionals who's only real mistake was in underestimating their enemy and the capacity of Washington to take bold action.

36 posted on 12/25/2005 5:31:27 PM PST by Ditto ( No trees were killed in sending this message, but billions of electrons were inconvenienced.)
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