On This Day


General Washington’s choice to cross the Delaware River, Christmas Night 1776, arguably changed the course of America history forever.

On This Day

These are the times that try men’ souls. The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of their 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.”

Thomas Paine's "The American Crisis" reportedly read to soldiers Xmas night.
On This Day

What Happened:

  • July 4, 1776 – Declaration of Independence signed. British have many high profile victories.
  • By Winter 1776, Gen. Washington’s Continental Army is in retreat & running out of men & money: high casualties, attrition & low morale.
  • Gen. Washington takes a gamble, and hatches a difficult plan to surprise British forces the day after Christmas.
On This Day

Dec. 25-26 1776

  • On Christmas night, the Continental Army took 10 hours to cross the Delaware River in a freezing cold snowstorm.
  • Once across, many didn’t have proper shoes to march hours to Trenton for the battle leaving bloody footprints in the snow.
  • Gen. Washington surprised the British side day after Christmas, winning Battle of Trenton quickly.
On This Day

Why It Matters

“It’s really almost a miracle event, viewed by the population at the time. It looked as if the war was over…This victory is a huge morale confidence building victory that’s going to allow the war to continue.”

Historian Clay Craighead. Washington's victory changed the early course of the American Revolution & arguably, America's fate.
On This Day

Even the British felt a shift after this battle. Some, like Historian Clay Craighead, point to it as a real turning point in momentum. Listen to Clay tell the story from the grounds of Washington Crossing State Park - It was a perilous night that changed America forever.

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