Where Did George Washington Spend Christmas of 1776? Crossing the Delaware River, Of Course

By | December 23, 2018

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General Washington crossing the Delaware River. (Photo by: Picturenow/UIG via Getty Images)

As we sit in our warm, cozy homes on Christmas Day, we should remember that, 242 years ago, George Washington was spending his holiday in a much different situation. Memorialized in one of the most famous paintings of the American Revolutionary War, Washington spent Christmas of 1776 secretly leading more than 5,400 soldiers across the icy Delaware River so that they could launch a surprise attack on the Hessian forces, groggy and hung over from celebrating Christmas in their barracks in Trenton, New Jersey, in the early morning hours of December 26, 1776. The ensuing battle was a turning point in the Revolutionary War. Here are some facts about the Christmas that General Washington spent crossing the Delaware river. 

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Source: britishbattles.com

Washington Chose a Surprise Attack

General Washington and his troops had experienced a series of defeats at the hands of the British in the months leading up to Christmas of 1776. As a result of those defeats, the colonists had lost control of New York City and some other cities and towns that were strategically important. The war was not going in Washington’s favor. He needed a substantial win to boost the failing morale of his men. He came up with an unconventional idea…to attack the enemy in the dead of winter when they were at their most vulnerable. He knew that they would celebrate Christmas with plenty of alcohol, so they would not be alert to an attack the morning after Christmas.