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Crossing The Delaware

US Military History Throughout The Years

Short bits of history you know and some you may not!

Typically, in the old days, the winter months of a war were treated as a time to recoup and rest. As a result not much typically happened. Armies camped and stood guard and weathered out the cold. Sometimes though, engagements occur and like the famous attack covered below bold leaders take advantage of the time and initiate stunning attacks known of just about everywhere.

  • Crossing The Delaware: Wednesday, December 25, 1776 – With an aim to raise low morale across the Continental Army, General George Washington leads a small force across the Delaware River to attack Trenton, New Jersey. Within the town was an isolated Hessian force, German auxiliaries in service of the British military, of around 1,400 soldiers. Washington’s plan of attack involved three crossings of the icy river near the town, two of which were canceled due to the rough conditions of the river. Only the force of 2,400 Soldiers led directly by Washington would cross the Delaware, but even this crossing was three hours delayed. Washington’s troops would cross the river in a collection of cargo boats and ferries, landing several miles north of the town. As they crossed a strong winter storm arrived, nearly causing Washington to cancel the whole attack. Along with the 2,400 Continental Soldiers, 18 cannons would be brought across the river, with their commander Henry Knox being instrumental to them crossing the ice filled river. Upon assembling his force across the river Washington would lead them in two columns to Trenton, achieving total surprise. The ensuing battle was short, with the Hessian forces in Trenton caught off guard and unable to form a proper defense in the face of the Colonial force’s cannons and Soldiers. The Hessians would lose 22 killed, with another 83 wounded. In total 896 Hessians would be captured with Washington’s force only losing two killed and five wounded. One of those wounded, nearly fatally, was future President James Monroe. The attack would raise moral across the Continental Army, with British leadership surprised at the ability of the Colonials being capable of such an attack. With the two other Continental forces unable to cross Washington quickly moved his small force back across the river, with captured Hessians along with large amounts of taken food and supplies as well.

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