It was nearly midnight on Christmas of 1776 when Revolutionary War General George Washington daringly crossed the freezing Delaware River to turn the tide in favor of the colonists. Washington had suffered numerous defeats, resulting in the loss of many strategic locations, including New York City in the north.
Washington’s plan included three crossings of the Delaware. He led a division of 2,400 men to surprise a group of German Hessian soldiers gathered at Trenton. When Washington’s force descended the next morning, the Hessians were caught unawares after a night of Christmas revels and were easily overwhelmed.
When Washington’s other two divisions of 3,000 men failed to make the rendezvous, he was forced to withdraw. While the victory was not particularly strategic, Washington’s renown and the morale of the Continental Army grew.