Posted by AzBlueMeanie:
To all of our soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines at home and around the world, wishing you a Merry Christmas.
Yes, Mr. Kyl, Americans do work on Christmas defending our freedoms.
After being driven out of New York by the British and forced to retreat to the West bank of the Delaware during the late summer of 1776, the American cause was at a low ebb. In the harsh winter Washington was faced with the annual crisis of the expiry of the Continental Army’s period of enlistment. He resolved to attack the Hessian position at Trenton on the extreme southern end of the over extended British line along the Delaware, before his army dispersed.
Washington had some 2,400 men from Virginia, Delaware, Pennsylvania, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Connecticut and New York.
The force paraded in the afternoon and set off for the Delaware where they embarked in a flotilla of the characteristic Delaware river boats.
It was a cold dark night and the river was running with flowing ice. At about 11pm a heavy snow and sleet storm broke. Washington’s force did not reach the east bank until around 3am. His soldiers were badly clothed and many did not have shoes.
Washington’s men then marched to Trenton, some of the men leaving traces of blood on the snow.
The effect of the battle of Trenton was out of all proportion to the numbers involved and the casualties. The American effort across the colonies was galvanized and the psychological dominance achieved by the British in the preceding year overturned. Gen. Howe was stunned that a strong German contingent could be surprised in such a manner and put up so little resistance. Washington’s constant problem was to maintain the enthusiasm of his army for the war, particularly with the system of one year recruitment and Trenton proved a much needed encouragement.
Washington’s army crossing the Delaware in the freezing conditions has become an enduring national image for the United States as can be seen in Emmanuel Leutze’s painting.