Middle School students visited the historic Washington Crossing Park on the Delaware River. This is where, arguably, General Washington turned the tide of the Revolutionary War by taking his tired and hungry troops across the river on Christmas Day 1776 to launch an audacious attack on the Hessian Troops serving the British and encamped in Trenton.
The students were able to walk through the Park on a beautiful day and listen to the guide describe the scene that fateful Christmas day. The conditions were very different then – freezing temperatures and a biting wind that developed into a snowstorm. The soldiers, some not much older than the students, were tired, hungry, and cold. Some had no shoes and marched with rags tied around their feet. The Delaware River was covered in ice as the troops were rowed across to the NJ side. They then had to march through a snowstorm to Trenton – with their own equipment and also the artillery and ammunition needed for the Battle.
History tells us that the bold gamble paid off – the Hessians were taken by surprise and defeated. This was a vital American victory. The army that the British thought was all but defeated destroyed a major garrison and suffered very few casualties. The Americans also managed to capture critical supplies, including food and clothing, in the process. Emboldened, General George Washington recrossed and crossed the Delaware River again over the next week, fighting a delaying action at the Battle of the Assunpink and winning another stunning victory at the Battle of Princeton.
For the students, this was partially about learning more about this period in US history. But it was also about appreciating what young men, not much older than themselves, had to suffer and go through to achieve the victory that changed the course of the war.
The class finished the day with a very enjoyable lunch at the Patriots Crossing Restaurant!
Every year you can view the reenactment at Washington Crossing Historic Park on Christmas day, December 25th. This year the reenactment will take place from noon to 3:00 pm (actual crossing at 1:00 pm). Details can be found on the Washington Crossing Park site.