Written by Thomas Payne, ordered by George Washington, to be read to his troops:
“These are the times that try men’s souls; the summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of his country; but he that stands it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman. Tyranny, like hell, is not easily conquered; yet we have this consolation with us, that the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph”
George Washington was about to make history, this day in December of 1776. He was preparing to cross the Delaware River near McKonkey’s Ferry, Pennsylvania, which was a planned move in a surprise attack, which would be called the “Battle of Trenton”located in New Jersey. His enemy was the Hessians, an army led by Johaan Rahl, consisting of 1400 men.
You see at the time, the Hessians were the best army that British money could buy. They were hired by the British, as “Foreign Mercenaries” to do their work of death. They were winning battles all over, cutting the American moral down and basically scaring the hell out of the soldiers. George Washington was determined to change all of that. Logistically, this was a tricky move.
His plan was to surprise the enemy on December 26th, who would be hung over from celebrating Christmas from the night before. He had enlisted a spy named John Honeyman, who infiltrated the enemy troops earlier, to not only gather intelligence but also to mislead them into thinking that George Washington’s troops moral was low, and in no condition to attack.
At 11:00 P.M George Washington started his 2400 troops from Pennsylvania toacross the Delaware River, hopefully to be completed by 12:00 A.M leaving 5 hours to reach Trenton before daybreak. A bad storm hit and made crossing the icy Delaware pure hell. The crossing took 3 hours.
The men were not ready to march until 4:00A.M putting him far behind schedule. By 6:00 A.M his men were miserable. Their muskets would not fire due to being exposed to the storm all night. Washington ordered the men to use their bayonets instead. They marched on.
At the Hessian garrison, the enemy commander Rahl, was passed out and sound asleep along with most of the 1400 man army. The decision was made not to do a normal pre dawn patrol because of the earlier severe snow storm, allowingWashington to approach undetected. George Washington’s 2400 man army attacked the 100 home garrison at Trenton, New Jersey, taking the enemy by complete surprise.
The fighting was over. Within 90 minutes, Washington was able to declare a complete victory over the Hessians. The Americans captured 1,000 arms and ammunition, several cannon and much needed supplies. The Hessians suffered 20 killed and 100 wounded while 1000 were captured. Hundreds more managed to escape. The American losses amounted to 4 killed and 8 wounded.
Washington’s troops were exhausted with no choice but to withdraw. By noon, Washington’s force was moving to recross the Delaware River back into Pennsylvania taking their prisoners and supplies with them. The battle was instrumental during the American Revolutionary War in achieving a free America.
This battle was also instrumental into instilling much needed new confidence into the Continental Army, the moral had been suffering badly. The Continental Congress was confident the American forces could defeat regulars and re-enlistments flourished. The Americans had now proved themselves against a disciplined European army, and the fear the Hessians instilled in earlier battles, was gone.
We are, who we are, because of George Washington and the Continental Army. I like many others, will stop at nothing to protect what he has given us. When we have traitors trying to kill American freedoms, transfer all our country’s wealth to the enemy, and re-write the Constitution of the United States, it not only breaks my heart, but forces me to look into my children and grandchildren’s eyes with every fiber of my being, and try to convey my passion for a free Republic.