George Washington

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1776 Dec 25

George Washington's crossing of the Delaware River

Washington Crossing Bridge, Wa

George Washington's crossing of the Delaware River occurred on the night of December 25–26, 1776, during the American Revolutionary War, was the first move in a surprise attack organized by George Washington against Hessian forces, which were German auxiliaries aiding the British, in Trenton, New Jersey, on the morning of December 26. Planned in secrecy, Washington led a column of Continental Army troops from today's Bucks County, Pennsylvania across the icy Delaware River to today's Mercer County, New Jersey, in a logistically challenging and dangerous operation.


Other planned crossings in support of the operation were either called off or ineffective, but this did not prevent Washington from surprising and defeating the troops of Johann Rall quartered in Trenton. After fighting there, the army crossed the river again back to Pennsylvania, this time with prisoners and military stores taken as a result of the battle.


Washington's army then crossed the river a third time at the end of the year, under conditions made more difficult by the uncertain thickness of the ice on the river. They defeated British reinforcements under Lord Cornwallis at Trenton on January 2, 1777, and were also triumphant over his rear guard at Princeton the next day before retreating to winter quarters in Morristown, New Jersey. As a celebrated early turn in the ultimately victorious Revolutionary War, the unincorporated communities of Washington Crossing, Pennsylvania, and Washington Crossing, New Jersey, are today named in honor of the event.


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