New York & New Jersey Campaign > Crossing the Delaware River

Crossing the Delaware River

Background

George Washington's crossing of the Delaware River, which occurred on the night of December 25–26, 1776, during the American Revolutionary War, was the first move in a surprise attack organized by George Washington against the Hessian forces in Trenton, New Jersey, on the morning of December 26. Planned in partial secrecy, Washington led a column of Continental Army troops across the icy Delaware River in a logistically challenging and dangerous operation.

Other planned crossings in support of the operation were either called off or ineffective, but this did not prevent Washington from surprising and defeating the troops of Johann Rall quartered in Trenton. The army crossed the river back to Pennsylvania, this time laden with prisoners and military stores taken as a result of the battle.

Washington's army then crossed the river a third time at the end of the year, under conditions made more difficult by the uncertain thickness of the ice on the river. They defeated British reinforcements under Lord Cornwallis at Trenton on January 2, 1777, and defeated his rear guard at Princeton on January 3, before retreating to winter quarters in Morristown, New Jersey.

The unincorporated communities of Washington Crossing, Pennsylvania, and Washington Crossing, New Jersey, are named in honor of this event.

New York & New Jersey Campaign Battles

Sources

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