Washington Crossing the Delaware
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On the night of December 25, 1776, George Washington led the Continental army across the Delaware River in order to attack the Hessian enemy, in what had become known as Washington’s Crossing of the Delaware. The operation was both logistically and militarily difficult, and a successful outcome was not assured.
Crossing the Delaware
according to The Crossing Foundation, Washington had conceived the idea of mounting a surprise attack on Hessian soldiers wintered in Trenton, New Jersey. Morale among the troops was at a low point, having been chased out of New York in defeat. By the middle of December 1776, Washington had about 2400 men at his disposal, and planned a bold move.
On Christmas morning, Washington ordered that each man be issued fresh flints and take three days’ food. Numerous small watercrafts had been assembled and as quietly as possible, the army made for the Delaware River. Henry Knox was in charge of the logistics, and while the weather had built up ice on the river and slowed the crossing, the entire army successfully crossed by 4 a.m. without detection.
Crossing the Delaware Raised Moral
The Continental army then took the Hessians by surprise in the Battle of Trenton. The event was forever immortalized in Emanuel Leutz’s famous 1851 painting, Washington Crossing the Delaware, which is on display at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City.
Facts about Washington Crossing the Delaware:
- Only 2 American soldiers were killed
- Only 5 American soldiers were injured
- 83 Hessians were killed
- The battle wasn't that important but it served to raise the moral of the men