Everyone has grown up seeing pictures of George Washington on a boat. Yeah, he won a battle or something right? I thought I knew the story well enough but last year I read 1776 by David McCullough and I learned that I didn’t really know the story at all.
Here’s the setup, George Washington is parked on one side of the Delaware with three total armies. The Britsh are on the other side, sitting cozy. Its to cold to fight because its December 25th and everyone just wanted to hangout and have a good Christmas.
Washington isn’t having any of that. He organizes his three armies to cross the Delaware in three strategic positions then converge on the enemy in Trenton. The plan sounds great on paper but as soon as they went to execute it was a disaster. Washington wasn’t able to start the crossing until a few hours after originally planned and he gets word that the other two armies aren’t going to cross because of the massive blizzard threatening to kill everyone. Washington tells his men to man up and the cross without two of their armies.
Put yourself in Washington’s shoes. You just crossed the Delaware with 1/3 the force you thought you’d have, all your men are freezing cold from a blizzard and they’ve been up all night. If you answered “call it a day and take a nap” then you are like everyone else on the planet. Washington didn’t care. He told his men to march and that was that. They split into two columns and when they walked into the enemy camp the enemy lost their minds. The Hessians (german mercenaries fighting for the British) had no idea an attack was inbound. It was early morning, they were caught with their pants down and their shaving kits in hand. 3 Americans were killed and over 1000 Hessians captured.