Sunday, December 19, 2010

Washington's Crossing at the Delaware

On a chilly Christmas evening in 1776, George Washington may have changed the fate of America forever. After suffering moral defeats in New York City, General Washington needed to regain the morale of his troops. He devised an attack on the Hessian forces in Trenton and Princeton, New Jersey. Washington and his troops set camp at the village of Taylorsville, Pennsylvania, located on the banks of the Delaware River. The town was developed around a ferry crossing owned by Samuel McConkey. Mr. McConkey also owned an inn and tavern, which served as a guard post to keep alert for attacking British Troops. It’s also believed that Washington and his troops dined at McConkey’s Ferry Inn before that treacherous night on the Delaware.

At approximately 6:00 p.m. on Christmas evening, Washington and his troops set out on the Delaware River. The Durham boats Washington specifically asked for seemed to be the perfect fit for all his men plus their heavy gear. The Durham boats were used for hauling iron on the river. This evening they would receive their hardest workout. A classic Pennsylvanian nor’easter was looming on the horizon. The battle through the icy waters of the Delaware was just one of the many to come in those ten crucial days. Sleet, snow and freezing rain fell down on Washington’s troops as they fought through the blustery night. After the crossing, Washington marched his men into Trenton, New Jersey and devised a two prong attack, which would change the Revolution forever.

It is thought that more men perished from diseases and sickness along the banks of the Delaware than in the battles that proceeded. The Thompson-Neely house, which still stands, acted as a hospital during the troop’s encampment at Taylorsville. It is unknown exactly how many men perished in this site, and almost all who died are still unknown. While the building of the Delaware Canal was going on, many workers found body remains in the soil outlaying the river.

A soldier’s grave was later made to commemorate all who lost their lives during that cold December in 1776. The tombstones that line the bank only represent a few of the many who lost their lives for our freedoms.

In 1918 the town of Taylorsville was changed to Washington’s Crossing. Today, many of the buildings still stand, allowing us to retrace history and walk the hallowed grounds where many had given blood and life for the many freedoms we so boldly display today.

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