Situated in the heart of the Delaware Valley, "Washington Crossing" was selected as the DAR chapter name to commemorate the crossing of the Delaware River on December 25, 1776. General George Washington, commander of a fledgling army, was faced with the onset of winter and a military unit decimated by low morale and desertions. As the Christmas season approached, the wounded and defeated army was encamped on the Pennsylvania side of the Delaware River. The remnants of Washington's army were honorable men, awaiting their release from military service as enlistment expired on January 1. With only three weeks of the enlistment period remaining, Washington conceived a bold plan to salvage the concept of an independent American nation.
On Christmas Eve, Washington's creative plan was put into motion. Although the remnants of three army divisions were ordered to cross the icy cold river during a severe sleet storm, only one group of 2,400 men led by Washington himself successfully made the bitter-cold crossing of the Delaware. With his men, 18 cannon, and the horses safely on the New Jersey side of the river, Washington's army traversed the eight miles to Trenton Barracks where they encountered and defeated the Hessian troops.
Thus, Washington's defeated and demoralized army achieved a victory over enemy troops without loss of American life. The victory at Trenton turned the tide of war, leading to increased enlistments and a second victory at Princeton just three days later. The attacks on Trenton and Princeton mark the beginning of a five-month campaign through New Jersey that led to the first major victory of the war at Saratoga in 1777. Each year, the strategic success that began with a late night Christmas boat crossing of man and beast is re-enacted at the "Crossing."
This site was last updated on February 20, 2014.