While I'm out for the holiday, I did a post for you all. In all the years on this blog, I don't think I ever featured this event. Just a hop skip and jump up the Delaware River is yet another quaint town...Washington's Crossing.
Each December, thousands gather on the banks of the Delaware River to watch the reenactment of General George Washington’s daring Christmas Day river crossing. During this event, several hundred re-enactors in Continental military garb listen to an inspiring speech by Washington and then row across the river in replica Durham boats. The reenactment is held each year on December 25 at 1 p.m. Those who cannot attend on Christmas can watch a full dress rehearsal about two and a half weeks before the Christmas Day Crossing. This is big around these part on Christmas Day. This year I hear, they are expecting between 10-20 thousand people, and for some, this is part of their tradition to go see this.In the winter of 1776, General George Washington and his ragged army had experienced only defeat and despair. The War for Independence was going badly, with failure following failure.In the preceding months, Washington’s campaign in New York had not gone well; the Battle of Long Island ended in a loss when the British troops managed to out-maneuver the Continental Army. A series of defeats settled around Washington as he was forced to retreat across New Jersey to Pennsylvania on December 7 and 8.
As the harsh Pennsylvania winter set in, the morale of the American troops was at an all-time low. The soldiers were forced to deal with a lack of both food and warm clothing, while Washington watched his army shrink due to desertions and expiring enlistments. Now, more than ever, a victory was desperately needed.
General Washington hatched a daring plan to cross the Delaware River under the cover of darkness, march to Trenton and attack the Hessian outposts in and around Trenton. The boats to be used for the crossing were gathered earlier in the month in compliance with Washington’s orders, primarily as a defensive measure. Various types of boats were collected; most notable were the large, heavy Durham boats used to carry pig iron down the Delaware.
Fully expecting to be supported by two divisions south of Trenton, Washington assembled his own troops near McConkey’s Ferry in preparation for the crossing. By 6 pm, 2,400 troops had begun crossing the ice-choked river. The operation was slow and difficult due to the condition of the river. There was an abrupt change in the weather forcing the men to fight their way through sleet and a blinding snowstorm. These obstacles proved to be too much for the supporting divisions led by Generals Cadwalader and Ewing, ultimately preventing their crossing at southern points along the Delaware.
Against all odds, Washington and his men successfully completed the crossing and marched into Trenton on the morning of December 26, achieving a resounding victory over the Hessians. By moving ahead with his bold and daring plan, Washington re-ignited the cause of freedom and gave new life to the America Revolution.
This is a fascinating post. I saw the famous Leutze painting of Washington crossing the Delaware, at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, but I knew nothing about the annual reenactment.ReplyDelete
Enjoyed that :-)ReplyDelete
Love that, though I imagine Washington would have preferred crossing today since it was so warm.ReplyDelete
Perhaps he'd have gone for his Dress Bermuda Shorts uniform?
Thanks for the historical post! I wouldn't mind seeing that reenactment one year. I had no idea they did that. :)ReplyDelete
Very cool! You know I love history so I really enjoyed this. My ancestors who lived in New Jersey at the time would have been dismayed by Washington's successful crossing because they were loyal to the British Crown. Ultimately they fled to Ontario as United Empire Loyalists, which is why I'm a Canadian today.ReplyDelete
Wonderful setting. William and I went to see this years ago. Thw small park is wonderfully situated along the banks of the Delaware River. The 18th and early 19th century structures in both the park and the village add charm to the overall experience. But I remember it was extremely crowded, and that was years agoReplyDelete
Amazing piece of history to be living near.ReplyDelete
The grounds are attractive and the Delaware River where Washington crossed, is awesome! History abounds in this community. Our visit on the PA side was educational and enjoyable! Bowman's Hill Tower is nearby. The Gift Shop at the museum is small but it has a few nice items for sale including informative books, glass George Washington Ornaments, postcards, etc. We want to go back sometime to see the re enactment sometime. And stop in New Hope.ReplyDelete
Very cool post. Educational and enjoyable. Have you ever gone to this yet?ReplyDelete
I never would think of this as a Christmas tradition, but I guess it would make sense. I have never seen this, but have been through the town....yet another quaint village in Bucks CountyReplyDelete
That is so... awesome!ReplyDelete
I can't believe I have never gone to see this. I love that time in history, and not a long drive for me at all.ReplyDelete
washington had to cross the icy river back then; this year it was smooth sailing and 70F. and no, washington did NOT wear shorts and a t-shirt to the re-enactment!ReplyDelete
very cool....your area has plenty of history there.ReplyDelete
How cool is that...and certainly a good year to probably go see it.ReplyDelete