Sunday, December 26, 2010

Winter Crossing

Tonight's weather brings to mind another stormy winter night in our area 234 years ago. On Christmas night in 1776, a howling nor'easter hit the Delaware Valley. In the midst of the storm, George Washington's army crossed the Delaware River and defeated a Hessian garrison at Trenton. In a second battle at Trenton several days later, the Americans held off a British counterattack, then slipped away. Marching north, Washington's men struck again and defeated the British at Princeton.

Months earlier, just a few weeks after the Continental Congress had boldly declared American independence, a powerful British force had landed in Brooklyn and captured New York after decisively defeating Washington's army. As the remnants of the Continental army fled west across the Delaware, British forces occupied New Jersey and advanced on Philadelphia.
The American cause seemed lost, but Washington and his men did not let the Revolution die. Their victories at Trenton and Princeton shook the British and turned the tide.

Historic parks mark both sides of the Delaware River where the winter crossing occurred—the Washington Crossing Historic Park is on the Pennsylvania side, and Washington Crossing State Park is on the New Jersey side.