Archive for December 25th, 2008

I hope you’ve all had a wonderful Christmas.  Ours has been very good.  My wife gave me one of those shiatsu back massage pad thingys, and it’s great.  I’m thinking I’ll probably take it to the office…or I may never leave the house again.  Since we’re all (or at least some of us are) filled with good food and treats and such, maybe Today’s History Lesson should be kept brief.

Let’s talk river crossings.  We’ve all done it at one time or another (likely hundreds of times).  You’re driving in your car, you come to a bridge, and you know what to do.  It all comes naturally.  Unless it’s one of those gigantic bridges, then you might gawk for a moment and feel your heart race just a bit.  But you cross the river and get to the other side and life goes on.

But (in Rudolph-style) do you recall the most famous river crossing of all?  It happened on Christmas night when General George Washington left Pennsylvania, crossed the Delaware River, and landed in New Jersey.  It was December 25, 1776, and the General had a date in Trenton…with the Hessians.

Who were the Hessians?  They were not the guys for whom that famous college football trophy is named.  The Hessians were German soldiers who had been conscripted (forced) to join the British ranks to fight against the Continental Army.  Since most of them came from the German state of Hesse,…you get the picture.

This all-boat crossing, which began at 3:00pm, would take 12 hours to complete, and featured all of the winter conditions you’d expect…ice floes, strong winds, cold, and sleet.  But Washington’s army crossed safely and proceeded to ruin the Hessian Christmas, although it’s pretty safe to say that citizens forced to fight in a foreign country probably didn’t feel a whole lot like fighting the day after the biggest holiday of the year.  The Continental Army suffered 3 killed and a half-dozen wounded.  The Hessians?…20-some killed and about 100 wounded.

If only all the battles of the Revolution had been this easy…

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