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Washington's Army: Christmas 1776


Original rendering of General Washington crossing the Delaware River Christmas 1776
Original rendering of General Washington crossing the Delaware River Christmas 1776

Christmas Eve settled upon the frigid landscape of 1776, General George Washington and his Continental Army faced a bleak and uncertain future. The American Revolution was in its darkest hours, and the fate of the fledgling nation hung in the balance. But on this historic night, Washington and his soldiers would deliver a gift to the world that would change the course of history—a daring and audacious crossing of the ice-choked Delaware River, leading to a pivotal victory in the Battle of Trenton. This is the story of Washington's Army on Christmas 1776.

The Gloom of 1776:

1776 had been a year of setbacks and defeats for the American forces. The Continental Army, under General Washington's command, had faced repeated defeats and was forced to retreat across New Jersey, with the British Army hot on their heels. Morale was at an all-time low, and the very survival of the American cause was in jeopardy.

The Bold Plan:

Despite the grim circumstances, Washington was not ready to concede defeat. He devised a daring plan to launch a surprise attack on the Hessian forces, who were celebrating Christmas in the town of Trenton, New Jersey. This would be a risky endeavor, as it required crossing the ice-filled Delaware River under the cover of darkness, but Washington knew that a bold stroke was needed to boost the spirits of his troops and rally support for the American cause.

The Crossing:

On the evening of December 25, 1776, Washington's Army began its treacherous crossing of the ice-clogged Delaware River. The weather was bitterly cold, and the river's currents were swift. The operation was fraught with danger, but the soldiers pressed on. Amidst the freezing temperatures and the howling wind, they showed unwavering determination and resolve.

The Victory at Trenton:

As dawn broke on December 26, Washington's forces launched a surprise attack on the unsuspecting Hessian mercenaries in Trenton. The battle was short but intense, resulting in a resounding American victory. The Hessians surrendered, boosting American morale and rekindling hope for the revolution.

The Impact:

The daring crossing of the Delaware River and the subsequent victory at Trenton breathed new life into the American Revolution. It demonstrated Washington's leadership and resilience and proved that the Continental Army could achieve victory even in the face of overwhelming odds. The event became a symbol of American resolve and determination, inspiring patriots across the colonies to join the fight for independence.


Christmas 1776 was a pivotal moment in American history. General George Washington's audacious plan, his soldiers' courageous river crossing, and the victory at Trenton marked a turning point in the American Revolution. It served as a reminder that even in the darkest hours, the indomitable spirit of liberty could prevail. Washington's Army's triumph on that fateful Christmas night would go down in history as a testament to the enduring commitment of the American patriots to secure their freedom and independence.

Submitted by: Raymond E. Foster


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