A Tribute to Brave Americans.
Memorial Day, 2004
What brave men they were that Christmas night, 1776! George Washington had decided to risk it all on one daring attack. The British with their Hessian mercenaries [Hesse made a living by renting soldiers] had driven the Americans from New York and Long Island. Most American soldiers had signed up for only six months terms and those terms were coming to an end. Washington’s troops had dwindled to about 10 percent of his original force, about 3000 men, many of them without shoes or proper clothing. But they were well armed with plenty of artillery.
The Hessians had taken up positions in Trenton, certain that Washington’s army was defeated and could not fight. Besides, it was winter, and a terrible storm was brewing. But they were fine professional soldiers, the finest in Europe, and they reached deep for energy to post guards and be vigilant. It is a modern myth that they were drunken and asleep that night.
Washington had retreated across New Jersey and crossed the Delaware River and took up positions in Pennsylvania opposite Trenton and NE of Philadelphia.
Washington divided his army into three parts, two parts to attack Trenton from the south and east, the third part under Washington would cross to the north and attack from the north. Two of the armies were unable to cross the river that Christmas night because of the storm and the ice piling up in the river.
Washington and his troops effected the crossing with much difficulty. Yes, Washington stood in the boat, for the boats were huge Durham boats made for carrying the trade that made Pennsylvania farmers rich. Besides only a fool would sit down, for there was always water in the bottom of the boat, and nobody sat down in them, especially during a winter snow storm on December 25. Modern debunkers in history departments for many years have downgraded the status of American heroes.
They were four hours late when they finally got all the troops and artillery across. It was well past dawn when they finally completed the trek south, hauling artillery pieces up steep banks and braving the fierce blowing snow and ice.
Washington did not achieve his goal of a night attack, but the storm helped. They did not achieve complete surprise upon the Hessian troops, for they were spotted by sentries and both sides fought bravely, but the Americans had the advantage of artillery, numerical advantage at that time and place, and finally the Hessian commander called a halt. It was over at 9:00 a.m. Washington’s gamble had succeeded.
The great victory at Trenton shook America and Europe. Fresh recruits lined up throughout the colonies to join the American armies. Inquiries and inquisitions were held in Hesse and England. The English blamed the Hessians and the Hessians blamed the English. Continental currency received a shot in the arm.
The victory at Trenton was probably not the turning point of the war, but if Washington’s gamble had failed, his army would have been pinned with their backs against the Delaware river, and it probably would have been destroyed. Trenton did not gain liberty for America, but it made it possible for the war to continue.
God bless General George Washington, and God bless America.
I do not know what the greatest generation of American was, but we couldn’t even talk about it if it had not been for the generation of 1776.
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