Skip to comments.Washington crosses the Delaware (Christmas Day 1776)
Posted on 12/25/2017 5:30:30 AM PST by Beautiful_Gracious_Skies
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 Washingtons 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, Washingtons 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, Washingtons remaining force, separated into two columns, reached the outskirts of Trenton and descended on the unsuspecting Hessians. Trentons 1,400 Hessian defenders were groggy from the previous evenings festivities and underestimated the Patriot threat after months of decisive British victories throughout New York. Washingtons 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 Washingtons 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 Washingtons initiative raised the spirits of the American colonists, who previously feared that the Continental Army was incapable of victory.
Just prior to launching boats from McKonkeys Ferry across the Delaware River, Washington had an excerpt from Thomas Paines inspirational pamphlet The Crisispublished two days earlierread aloud to the army. The pamphlet began:
These are the times that try mens souls. The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of their country; but he that stands by it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman. Tyranny, like hell, is not easily conquered; yet we have this consolation with us, that the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph. ...
... Washingtons daring attack, after a string of demoralizing retreats, gave a desperately needed boost to the flagging spirits of the Continental Army.
That is such an amazing painting. I could stare at it for hours. Such detail! Thanks for posting.
God has blessed America.
And there...right there...front and center, and as large as the figure of Washington, is the American flag. That flag the multimillionaire scumbags of the NFL disrespected all year long, egged on by the Left who hate everything Gen. Washington and that flag represent.
Remembering George Washington’s famous Christmas crossing | Charlie Gerow (Republican strategist) December 24, 2017
Christmas is made of memories. For many it’s recalling the warmth and soft light of the fire, the twinkling of the lights in the window or on the tree, the angelic voices of carolers at the door, the joy of being with friends and family, presents under the tree or receiving Communion at midnight, even traipsing through the malls....
One Christmas he [Gerow’s father] told us the story of Christmas night, 1776, when George Washington crossed the Delaware to surprise the British and their Hessian mercenaries at Trenton.
As dad filled in the details, it was easy to understand why Thomas Paine, who accompanied Washington’s beleaguered army on their retreat from New York through the fields of New Jersey and into Pennsylvania, called it “the times that try men’s souls.”
General Howe had defeated Washington in several battles in New York. Washington was forced to retreat. His army had been decimated. Desertions and enlistments that ended on December 31 threatened to further deplete his ranks. Ammunition, clothing and food were in short supply. Morale was very low.
Washington himself had said, “I think the game is pretty near up.”
Yet Washington sensed an opportunity to reverse the tide. Trenton, then still a small town, was occupied by Britain’s Hessian auxiliary.
Washington knew that the general rules of European warfare meant they weren’t prepared to fight in the dead of winter. He also knew the German penchant for big celebrations of Christmas. He believed a surprise attack would win the day.
Washington’s plan relied on launching simultaneous attacks from multiple directions. He would lead the main force.
The weather on December 25 was miserable, so bad that the Hessians, also enjoying their Christmas festivities, didn’t send out any patrols. Reports to the Hessian command of American movements were discredited or ignored.
Washington and his troops pushed off their Durham boats in sleet and snow and freezing waters. The terrible weather threw the attack off schedule making a pre-dawn attack impossible. Many muskets were rendered useless by the sleet and snow.
Nevertheless they reached the other side and began the slog towards Trenton. Many of the men had no shoes and only rags covered their bloody feet. Two died along the way.
By the time they got to Trenton, Washington had cut off any escape routes, pushed his two main columns into the town and positioned his artillery at the head of the two streets that formed the heart of the town.
The Hessians finally formed for battle and began to try to repulse the American guns and advancing troops. But they couldn’t come up the Main Street as the American artillery prevailed. At the other end of town, a bayonet charge, necessitated by still wet muskets overwhelmed Hessian defenses.
In the end, the Hessians retreated. Washington troops killed more than 20 in the battle and captured virtually all the rest, along with badly needed food, boots and clothing.
Washington’s battle cry had been “Victory or Death.” Victory was his without a single American life being lost to gunfire or bayonet.
One of the worst injuries the Americans suffered was to a young Lieutenant who was shot in the shoulder severing an artery. He would no doubt have bled to death except for the quick and effective action of a field surgeon. The young officer was James Monroe, who went on to serve as the fifth President of the United States.
By early afternoon Washington and his ragtag army were back across the Delaware, with them their prisoners and new stores. The victory gave the Continental Congress renewed optimism, fueled re-enlistment of those about to expire, proved they could defeat the enemy, and became a turning point in the war for independence.
Today we also live in “times that try men’s souls.” But, for all the divisions that surround us, this is the season to find peace and harmony amongst us.
We could all use a little peace on earth and goodwill to all.
For those who celebrate the birth of our Lord, here’s a wish for a blessed and wonderful Christmas.
For those who don’t, a hope for all the joys and happiness of the season to be yours.
And to all “Peace on earth.”
Charlie Gerow, the CEO of Quantum Communications in Harrisburg, is a PennLive Opinion contributor. His “Donkeys & Elephants” column appears weekly opposite progressive commentator Kirstin Snow.
Merry Christmas and God Bless America.
I grew up near Washington’s Crossing, NJ. So sad that we never went to one of the re-enactments.
Merry Christmas to all!
LOVE that story, mountainlion. Bet that really made studying the history of the period a lot more fun! A very Happy Christmas to you and yours.
I swam the Delaware to invest my thoughts at the crossing. There has to be some embellishment. The current there is about 15 mph. Unless you had ropes stretched across the half mile, one would find themselves in Camden. Holding ropes to the current almost floods the boat broadside. The crossing had to be treacherous and full of calamity.
The last Q post on 8chan referenced this pic making me wonder what Trump has planned for tonight. Hopefully a nice Christmas present for the U.S.
This video references Washington's Crossing on Christmas, 1776
Notice the ice...tail end of the mini ice age ....1350 to 1750.
I like that posting very much.
I LOVE, ‘The Crossing.’ I usually watch it in the rotation with the other Christmas films I like. Such as, ‘Die Hard,’ LOL!
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