Thursday, December 29, 2011

NJ Trivia: Who Crossed the Delaware River Dec 25, 1776?

The first move in a surprise attack against the Hessian forces in Trenton, New Jersey was organized by George Washington. He led a column of Continental Army troops across the icy Delaware River in a logistically and dangerous operation. Preparations for the attack began on December 23. On December 24 the boats used to bring the army across the Delaware from New Jersey were brought down from Malta Island near New Hope and hidden behind Taylor Island at McKonkey's Ferry, Washington's planned crossing site, and security was tightened there. A final planning meeting took place that day, with all of the general officers present. General orders were issued by Washington on December 25 outlining plans for the operation. On Christmas Day, Washington ordered his army to prepare 3 days' food, and issued orders that every soldier be outfitted with fresh flints for their muskets. He was also somewhat worried by intelligence reports that the British were planning their own crossing once the Delaware was frozen over. At 4 PM Washington's army turned out for its evening parade, where the troops were issued ammunition, and even the officers and musicians were ordered to carry muskets. They were told that they were departing on a secret mission. marching 8 abreast in close formations, and ordered to be as quiet as possible, they left the camp for McKonkey's Ferry. Washington's plan required the crossing to begin as soon as it was dark enough to conceal their movements on the river, but most of the troops did not reach the crossing point until about 6 PM, about 90 minutes after sunset. The weather go progressively worse, turning from drizzle to rain to sleet and snow. Washington was among the first of the troops to cross....These troops formed a sentry line around the landing area in New Jersey, with strict instructions that no one was to pass through. The password was "Victory or Death".... As soon as the army was ready, Washington ordered it split into 2 columns....Only 3 Americans were killed and 6 wounded, while 22 Hessians were killed and 98 wounded. The Americans captured 1,000 prisoners and seized muskets, powder, and artillery.

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