Washington developed a plan for his men to cross the Delaware River on Christmas night and attack the Hessian mercenaries who occupied Trenton, New Jersey. His plan risked everything. If it failed, the dream of American independence would die in Trenton.
At dark, the American troops started to board the boats for the crossing. The night was cold and raw. Washington reached the Jersey side at 3 a.m. The storm was in full fury, with sleet cutting like a knife. The troops with Washington made contact with the Hessians at 8 o’clock in the morning. In an hour of ferocious combat, against all odds, the Americans defeated the well-trained, well-fed, and well-rested Hessians. About 9 a.m., the Hessians surrendered. The Americans took 948 prisoners, including 32 officers and many horses and firearms. A British historian later wrote: “It may be doubted whether so small a number of men ever employed so short a space of time with greater or more lasting results upon the history of the world.” Washington credited his victory to the Lord, writing this order to his troops: “The Providential goodness which we have experienced demand from us the warmest returns of gratitude and piety to the Supreme Author of all good.”
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