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George Washington | December 25, 1776 | The Revolutionary War
As the year 1776 drew to a close, the American army looked for a way to restore its people’s faith in the cause. Against what surely was hundreds of years of military advice, George Washington took a big chance.
It was Christmas, and the Hessians on the other side of the Delaware River, in New Jersey, were sure to be drunk and tired.
By waiting until nightfall, Washington was able to achieve maximum surprise. But he had to get across the river first.
It was cold that night, ice cold in fact. The boats carrying the American soldiers barely made it across because of ice in the river. But make it they did, their commanding officer proudly leading the way, all 2,000 of them. They made it to shore, regrouped, and marched toward Trenton, where the Hessians were camped.
Chaos followed, but it was chaos on one side only. The Colonial forces routed the Hessians, sending them running from cover. The whole affair lasted only 45 minutes, and Colonial soldiers took 900 Hessians prisoner. The tired, hungry Americans also found food, supplies, and especially ammunition.
It was a desperate act at a time when his country needed it most. George Washington’s crossing of the Delaware River in the dead of the night on Christmas and his subsequent victories in New Jersey energized a tired and sad Colonial Army and gave the American people cause for celebration. It was a desperate gamble, and it worked.