The Crossing

By December of 1776 The Continental Army under General George Washington was almost in total defeat. The troops were tired, cold, and hungry. Most didn’t even have shoes, they used rags, and old animal hides to try to protect their feet from frostbite. Blankets and coats were in short supply as well.
In what, General Washington believed would be “Victory or Death” his army, he decided to cross the Delaware River with 2400 soldiers and attack Trenton on the night of December 25th. The British Army had, stationed 1500 Hessian troops there believing that Trenton was well protected. Washington’s reasoning was that Trenton would be easier to take because the Hessians would be drunk and tired from all the Christmas festivities.
The night for the crossing was made darker and colder as rain, sleet and wind kicked up as the men loaded the boats to start their journey. The crossing was made even more perilous because they were transporting nearly 400 tons of artillery and horses. As they neared the other shore the river was frozen and the fatigued men lost valuable time breaking the ice so they could make land. Not a single soldier died on the crossing, however of the 3 troop divisions Washington had, only the one he commanded made it across the river.  But the army still had 9 long miles to march to reach Trenton before daybreak.
During the long march to Trenton, Washington placed himself in the rear of his troops, a place that is very dangerous for the leader because he has no protection from his army. Washington wanted his men to know that he would never ask his men to do something he himself would not do. Once they reached Trenton he led the charge to take the town.
Even though the Hessians had advance warnings of what Washington planned they did not believe that anyone would attempt such a foolhardy attack because of the weather so Colonel Rall of the Hessian Army relaxed his patrol and allowed his men to rest and enjoy the rest of the holiday. The American triumph was accomplished in less than an hour with only the loss of 2 soldiers during the battle. The Hessians had 22 killed, 84 wounded, and nearly 900 captured. Colonel Rall was among the dead. Washington and his men crossed back to the Pennsylvania side of the Delaware that night for some rest and to make plans.
The Battle of Trenton on December 25, 1776 was the turning point in the War for Independence for America. So high was the morale the troops from their victory, by January 3, 1777 General Washington’s army had again attacked Trenton, and moved onto Princeton, defeating the British army of Cornwallis.
These 3 battles were not fought by seasoned soldiers such as the British had, instead it was fought by farmers, blacksmiths, carpenters, shoemakers, and any number of working man. almost all of them had never before fought in a war. They stood together.

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