The 10 Days That Changed The World, Washington’s Crossing the Delaware into New Jersey
The 10 Days That Changed The World, Washington’s Crossing the Delaware. The Battles of Trenton and Princeton. A remarkable situation of two battles that changed everything for the War against the British (King George III). Previously there were a few small wins for the continental army and “The Battle of New York” nearly ended everything. Without these two battles there would have not been a United States of America.
George Washington’s daring 1776 Christmas Day crossing of the Delaware River and defeat of the Hessians in Trenton is considered a turning point in the Revolutionary War. You can witness this historic event for yourself during one of two reenactments in December. Citizens from around the country join in for a Bucks County tradition featuring several hundred reenactors clad in Continental military dress and George Washington himself. Listen as General Washington delivers an inspiring speech and then leads his troops across the river in replica Durham boats.
In the winter of 1776, General George Washington and his ragged army had experienced only defeat and despair. The War for Independence was going badly, with failure following failure.
In the preceding months, Washington’s campaign in New York had not gone well; the Battle of Long Island ended in a loss when the British troops managed to out-maneuver the Continental Army. A series of defeats settled around Washington as he was forced to retreat across New Jersey to Pennsylvania on December 7 and 8.
As the harsh Pennsylvania winter set in, the morale of the American troops was at an all-time low. The soldiers were forced to deal with a lack of both food and warm clothing, while Washington watched his army shrink due to desertions and expiring enlistments. Now, more than ever, a victory was desperately needed. img-historyGeneral Washington hatched a daring plan to cross the Delaware River under the cover of darkness, march to Trenton and attack the Hessian outposts in and around Trenton. The boats to be used for the crossing were gathered earlier in the month in compliance with Washington’s orders, primarily as a defensive measure. Various types of boats were collected; most notable were the large, heavy Durham boats used to carry pig iron down the Delaware.
Fully expecting to be supported by two divisions south of Trenton, Washington assembled his own troops near McConkey’s Ferry in preparation for the crossing. By 6 pm, 2,400 troops had begun crossing the ice-choked river. The operation was slow and difficult due to the condition of the river. There was an abrupt change in the weather forcing the men to fight their way through sleet and a blinding snowstorm. These obstacles proved to be too much for the supporting divisions led by Generals Cadwalader and Ewing, ultimately preventing their crossing at southern points along the Delaware.
Against all odds, Washington and his men successfully completed the crossing and marched into Trenton on the morning of December 26, achieving a resounding victory over the Hessians. By moving ahead with his bold and daring plan, Washington re-ignited the cause of freedom and gave new life to the American Revolution.