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Military Events That Happened on Christmas – 1776: Washington’s Famous Crossing of the Delaware

Military Events That Happened on Christmas – 1776: Washington’s Famous Crossing of the Delaware

4 Major Military Events That Happened on Christmas
DEC. 17, 2018 | BY KATIE LANGE

On Christmas Day every year, many Americans relax and enjoy time with their families. For many of our troops, though, it can be a day of sacrifice and hardship.

Over the history of the U.S., several big military actions have taken place on December 25. Here are four noteworthy ones.

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#1) 1776: Washington’s Famous Crossing of the Delaware

The winter of 1776 didn’t start as a good one for Gen. George Washington’s Continental Army. They suffered many defeats in the first few months of the American Revolution and had been pushed out of New York and New Jersey into Pennsylvania. For the troops, morale was low.

Washington needed to renew faith in the battle for independence, so he decided to surprise the Hessians — German troops hired by the British — who were stationed in Trenton, New Jersey. He figured that doing so after the enemy’s Christmas celebrations would find them groggy and unprepared for a fight, especially as a terrible winter storm was brewing.

So late Christmas night, Washington and his troops hopped in boats and waded across the icy Delaware River to test his theory — and he was right. At dawn on Dec. 26, about 2,400 frozen Continentals pushed into Trenton, and they did indeed surprise the enemy, who surrendered within an hour and a half.

The mission, which became known as the Battle of Trenton, was of huge significance to the Continental Army’s cause. Not only did it raise the troops’ spirits, but it revived the hope of the colonists, who were beginning to think their battle for independence wasn’t feasible.

Story credit: 4 Major Military Events That Happened on Christmas
DEC. 17, 2018 | BY KATIE LANGE; https://www.defense.gov/Explore/Features/story/Article/1713087/4-major-military-events-that-happened-on-christmas/
Photo credit: The Battle of Trenton inspired this famous painting by Emanuel Leutze of Gen. George Washington crossing the Delaware River. Photo By: National Archives photo

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