Crossing of Delaware

What was the Crossing of Delaware?

On December 25, 1776, the American Continental Army under General George Washington crossed the Delaware River. This was a time when the weather was extremely cold and the river had pieces of ice floating in it. To make things even more difficult, the American army had to cross the river after sunset so that no one would know about it. No one expected that the American army could cross the river in such weather and on the eve of Christmas.

Why did they cross the river?

At the other side of Delaware River, Hessian soldiers were camped at the town of Trenton. Hessians were German soldiers who were fighting on the side of the British against the Americans. General George Washington thought that by launching an attack in such a cold weather, he could surprise the Hessians and take back the control of Trenton from them. This worked because no one thought any army would be daring enough to cross a half-frozen river. The American army, once it had crossed the river, took the Hessians by surprise.

What happened after the crossing?

After crossing the river, the American army quickly marched to Trenton. The Hessian soldiers who had control of Trenton had no idea that the Americans were coming and so, they were taken completely by surprise. They were so shocked that after only a little fighting, they surrendered to the American army. The Americans took 1000 Hessian soldiers as prisoners and the army then marched back to the Delaware River, this time to cross back to the other side.

Why was it such an important event?

At the end of the year 1776, the American Revolutionary War was still on-going. By this time, the American army had suffered many defeats at the hands of the British army and had lost many important towns.

Because of this, the morale of the American army was low and some were even wondering if they could win the war against Britain at all. To top it, many American soldiers were thinking of leaving the army since they thought they could not win.

It was in such circumstances that General George Washington decided to cross the Delaware River and attack the British army. He knew that a daring attack like this would lead to a lifting of the morale of American soldiers as well as the American people if it were succesful.

And he was right. The victory proved that American forces could defeat the British army and could launch offensive attacks with success. Thanks to this victory, American morale was restored and the war continued, eventually resulting in the defeat of Britain.

Crossing a Third Time

After crossing back safely with 1000 Hessian prisoners, the American army crossed the Delaware River a third time. Again, the weather was still bitterly cold and the river had almost frozen. This time, the American army marched all the way to New Jersey and defeated the British, regaining control of New Jersey. This was another important victory after which the Americans started believing that they could actually win the war.

Learn More about the Crossing of the Delaware River at Wikipedia