“My brave fellows, you have done all I asked you to do, and more than could be reasonably expected; but your country is at stake, your wives, your houses, and all that you hold dear. You have worn yourselves out with the fatigues and hardships, but we know not how to spare you. If you will consent to stay one month longer, you will render that service to the cause of liberty, and to your country, which you probably can never do under any other circumstances.”
Seventy-five years after the historic event, German artist Emmanuel Leutze used the amazing victory to encourage his own countrymen. Following the publication of the Communist Manifesto in 1848, Germany experienced a political uprising. Wanting to inspire the people, he painted “Washington Crossing the Delaware,” revealed in 1851, to show what a true revolutionary hero looked like and the unity of the American people. The travelers in Washington’s boat including a frontiersman, a Scotsman, two farmers, a Native America, an African American and a woman disguised as a man. James Monroe stands behind Washington clinging to the Betsy Ross flag. (see and ) Leutze hoped to display what people of all backgrounds and histories can do if they join under a common cause. Putting their differences aside, people can accomplish anything if they are united in their objective.
Liberty, many today believe we are experiencing a very similar atmosphere as that of the American Revolution. Citizens began a grassroots campaign against the growing and bloated government in 2009. However, the Obama Administration illegally targeted and successfully oppressed the Tea Party Movement before it could really take off. (see ) During the 2008 campaign, Democrat candidate Barack Obama revealed the elitist view of the common working class people by stating, "They get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren't like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations.” Likewise, during the 2016 election, Hillary Clinton labeled Trump supporters “deplorables.” This is the same attitude of distain the British held towards the Americans, even though they too were British subjects. This similar hostility from the ruling class pushed people to fight back at the ballot box and elect Republican President Donald Trump against all odds, just as it pushed the citizens to fight against the Stamp Act in 1765. (see )
We are definitely in a time that tries men’s souls. Elitists, entrenched in the Deep State, are desperately fighting to retain control of America’s leadership and government institutions. As we move closer to the 2020 election, the outcome will be “Victory or Death” for America as she will decide between embracing our or Socialism. The same battle cry was used at the Alamo, with unfortunately the opposite outcome. (see ) The upcoming election will determine whether will we succeed as we did in Trenton, or die in defeat as the freedom-loving men did in Texas. It will also reveal if America wants to follow or .
As Washington declared, “Your country is at stake.” Despite the media, leftist groups, and ordinary citizens attacking Trump supporters, verbally and physically, they are bravely and proudly uniting and continuing their silent march toward the ballot box. (see ) For your sake, Liberty, I pray God uses Gideon’s Army once more to protect America.
That’s my 2 cents.
December 26, 2019
The men were hungry, cold, and discouraged. The war had not commenced the way they had hoped. Who were they kidding? A bunch of untrained farmers and shop owners taking up arms to play soldier never accomplished anything. They had wives, children, farms, and businesses to tend to. With many soldiers already discharged and the vast majority of those remaining quickly approaching the end of their enlistment, there was nothing stopping them from leaving, and Washington knew it. He needed a miracle.
General George Washington was well aware of the state of his Continental Army. While he and his men achieved some early success, the fall of 1776 proved to be trying for the inexperienced troops. Following several hard-fought battles, General Charles Cornwallis drove Washington out of New York completely on November 16, 1776. (see and ) The Continental Army was pushed all the way through New Jersey to the Pennsylvania border. (see ) After months of retreating, Washington needed inspiration for himself and his men. He needed something to motivate the troops into continuing their fight for freedom and liberty. That inspiration came from the man that helped spark the cry for it in the first place.
A leader in the Patriots’ fight for freedom, “Common Sense” author Thomas Paine understood the men’s war-weariness first-hand. (see , and ) A soldier in the Pennsylvania Associators militia, Paine sat in the light of the campfire following one of the many American retreats and quickly wrote an encouraging piece to the men on a drumhead. Entitled “The American Crisis,” Pennsylvania Journal published Paine’s pamphlet on December 19, 1776. The following day, Washington ordered its reading to all the troops.
IS AT STAKE
“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.”
The words resonated and revitalized the troops, but Washington knew it would not last long. With their enlistments ending soon, he needed to move quickly. When retreating over the Delaware River into Pennsylvania, Washington bought, borrowed, or commandeered every boat within 60 miles to cross the river and also prevent the British from following. They were hidden along the banks, just waiting for Washington’s next move.
Using invaluable information he received from his spy John Honeyman, Washington devised an attack on Trenton, New Jersey. The British had withdrawn from the town leaving a smaller group of approximately 1,400 hired Hessians to defend it. With a force of 5,400 men, Washington developed a three-sided attack, which would start on the evening of Christmas. Anticipating the Hessians would spend the day celebrating the holiday, the Patriots would cross the Delaware River and initiate a surprise attack in the morning. Washington would take one detachment across the river while two others would cross elsewhere, making use of the previously acquired boats. However, the key to the mission was the element of surprise.
Dr. Benjamin Rush observed Washington make his final strategic maneuvers and last minute changes. A member of the Continental Congress, surgeon in the Continental Army, and signer of the , Rush had much at stake in the freedom of America and wondered if all their efforts were for not. As Washington gathered his papers and exited the room, one note remained behind. Rush cautiously retrieved the piece of paper, hoping to find some hint of Washington's plans. To his dismay, it contained only three simple words written upon it: Victory or Death.
Washington ordered the men to pack three days of rations along with dry powder, sixty rounds of ammunition, and a blanket. With no proper winter clothing or footwear, the troops wrapped themselves in their blankets and set out with Washington, many barefoot, the afternoon of December 25, 1776. As the evening progressed, so did the severity of the weather. Drizzle became rain and then snow, evolving into a strong storm by nightfall. Regardless, the men pushed on. In silence, they reached the river to discover ice obstructing their path.
Elsewhere on the Delaware, General James Ewing stood on the shoreline near Trenton Falls, cursing the ice that prevented him and his men from joining Washington. Likewise, General John Cadwalader experienced the same barriers at Dunk's Ferry. Unbeknownst to him and despite his careful planning, Washington would be fighting the Hessians with 3,000 less men than he calculated. It was if God was again dwindling Gideon's Army down at the river to a minimal force so as to show who really controlled and won this battle. It was only by the grace of God that Washington and his men successfully crossed the 800-foot ice filled river at McConkey's Ferry. Even more so, that Colonel Henry Knox brought up the rear with his 18 cannons, enough ammunition for the battle, and horses to move it all. (see )
By the time Knox informed Washington that all the cannons were safely across, they were three hours behind schedule. Washington stood tall as he contemplated whether they had lost their window of surprise. Knowing another retreat would surely mean defeat while also risking their discovery, he silently repeated, “Victory or Death.” It was more than just the mission’s password, it was the reality and the fate of the entire revolution at that moment. Washington soberly ordered his men forward.
It was no secret the British saw the Americans as rebels, vagabonds, and deplorables. Believing they were uneducated, unsophisticated, and uncivilized, the Red Coats never regarded the Americans as fellow countryman, even before the revolution. Instead, the British forces treated the colonists quite disrespectfully as lower class citizens who deserved harassment, including those in the military. (see and ) This mindset and assumption that the Americans were a poor force, prompted General James Grant to deny Hessian Colonel Johann Rall's request for reinforcements at Trenton. However, the colonist army must not have distressed Rall that much either. Despite multiple proddings from his officers and engineers, he refused to even build fortifications or a redoubt to protect Trenton stating, "Let them come ... We will go at them with the bayonet." Unconcerned with the warnings of a possible attack, he spend Christmas night playing cards and drinking.
In Mount Holly, New Jersey, Hessian Colonel Carl von Donop continued to enjoy his Christmas feast without any eagerness to move on to Bordentown as ordered. Putting them in close proximity of Trenton, the new position would allow Donop to quickly help Rall, whom he abhorred, defend the town if necessary. Despite the urging of his captain to move on, Donop's attention remained focused on his very attractive hostess. While all of the rest of the town's women fled, this young lady remained, choosing instead to entertain Donop, who was very much interested in her companionship. With a fierce storm coming and it being Christmas, Donop had no desire to travel the 13 miles to Bordentown that evening. Trenton would be safe for now while he remained warm in the company of his hostess. Though the woman's name is not officially known, townspeople contend the Patriot that delayed Donop was Betsy Ross. (see )
Sleet now stung the faces of the men, yet they continued headstrong into the wind as they quietly treaded the 9-mile hike to Trenton. There was no fear of finding their way back to the river as blood from their bare or scantly cloth-wrapped feet stained the fresh snow. From atop his horse, Washington led his troops, encouraging the men as they marched, “Press on, boys, press on!” As the sleet covered the road, his horse began to slip and panic. Without a moment of hesitation or fear, Washington grabbed the horse’s mane and steadied the beast beneath him as if the hand of God protected him. (see ) The men continued on not believing what they just saw.
Not far from Trenton, a group of Virginians met the soldiers, who eagerly informed Washington of their attack of revenge on the Hessians for killing one of their own. With the Hessians now alerted and able to see approaching troops as the rising sun illuminated the sky, Washington conceded his element of surprise was gone. Nevertheless, he knew there was no choice but to continue on.
Despite Washington's initial discouragement, the Virginians’ attack proved to be a blessing in disguise. Just as he had used Honeyman as a spy, the British had infiltrated American camps and informed the Red Coats of an American attack during the holidays. Believing the Virginians were that strike, which was easily squashed, Rall and other leaders let down their guard. Washington had regained his surprise. Furthermore, as they approached Trenton, another winter blast filled the air with white powder, blinding the Hessians from seeing their oncoming attackers, who fortunately knew exactly where they were. Nevertheless, all the snow ruined their gunpowder, forcing the men to shift to bayonets.
Washington separated his men into two columns, giving the leads to Generals Nathanael Greene and John Sullivan. (see and ) As they advanced, Knox bombarded the town with his cannons, awakening the groggy Hessians from their Christmas festive sleep.
A fierce battle ensued for over an hour as both sides fought bravely. Future president Lieutenant James Monroe was wounded in the chest, severing an artery, while leading a charge to capture a Hessian cannon. A surgeon struggled yet successfully managed to clamp the hemorrhaging wound, saving Monroe’s life. (see and ) Rall did not receive such grace as two musket balls ripped through his chest while he rallied his troops from atop his horse. His men gathered his body and placed him in a nearby church. With their commander dying, the nearly 1,000 Hessians that had not already fled surrendered.
“This is a glorious day for our country!” Washington commended his men before approaching Rall to give the dying commander a word of comfort. Against all odds, the Americans had won. Nevertheless, history tells us Washington’s character would have naturally contributed the victory to Divine Providence and not to his own abilities. (see and )
The hired mercenaries suffered approximately 22 deaths and 92 wounded in the Battle of Trenton with the Americans only losing about 2 men with a handful of wounded. By the afternoon, the Continental Army crossed back over the Delaware, yet this time with the captured Hessians as well as the artillery and ammunition seized by the Americans.
After learning from Cadwalader that the British had retreated north to Princeton, Washington realized he could utilize the momentum from their victory and push the British out of the area. Washington moved his men over the Delaware again on December 30, however winter storms plagued their efforts a second time. As the men counted down the minutes until their enlistments ended on New Years, sitting high upon his horse so all could see him, Washington rallied his troops once more.
Adding a $10 bonus to the deal, enough men agreed to stay on and continue the fight for freedom. They attacked Trenton on January 2, 1777, winning their second victory there. The following day, Washington stormed Princeton and defeated the British, causing them to fall back to New Brunswick while the Continental Army traveled to Morristown, New Jersey, to make camp for the winter.