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Celebrating 240 years since 1776, adapted in part from Stories of Faith & Courage from the Revolutionary War (AMG)

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December 1776

I am going into the Jerseys for the salvation of America,” American General Charles Lee rashly proclaims. Seeking George Washington’s job and glory for himself, Lee stalls his half of the Continental Army in New Jersey and takes his time to meet up with George Washington, who leads the other half.

Dec. 13, 1776 
While stalling in Morristown, New Jersey, Lee makes an imprudent decision. He leaves his troops on the morning of December 13, 1776, and travels three miles to a tavern to enjoy a relaxing breakfast. 

Meanwhile a local Tory tips off the enemy to Lee’s plans. British scouts track, surprise, and capture him. Lee later reflects, The Jerseys; it was really in the hands of the enemy before my arrival.

Dec. 18, 1776 
George Washington writes with worry to his brother.
Between you and me, I think our affairs are in a very bad situation . . . if every nerve is not strained to recruit the new army with all possible expedition, I think the game is pretty near up.”

Between September and December, 11,000 American volunteers gave up the fight and returned to their families. However, under a full persuasion of the justice of our cause, I cannot entertain an idea, that it will finally sink, tho’ it may remain for some time under a cloud,” Washington writes hopefully.

Dec. 19, 1776 
These are the times that try men’s souls, writes Thomas Paine, the author of Common Sense. Paines new pamphlet, The Crisis, is published for the first time in the Pennsylvania Journal

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.

Dec. 23, 1776
Thomas Paine's pamphlet The Crisis is read aloud to George Washington's troops.

Dec. 25-26, 1776
With most of his 6,000 men’s enlistments set to expire Dec. 31, George Washington needs a moral victory to convince them to stay in the army. He orders 2,500 of them to cross the Delaware River and conduct a surprise attack against the British outpost at Trenton, which is guarded by hired Hessian or German soldiers. Crossing the Delaware River takes longer than George Washington expects. 

But the quantity of ice, made that night, impeded the passage of the boats so much, that it was three o’clock before the artillery could all be got over; and near four before the troops took up their line of march, Washington writes.

Henry Knox, who is in charge of artillery, writes his wife about crossing the Delaware River. 

Accordingly a part of the army, consisting of about 2,500 or 3,000 passed the river on Christmas night, with almost infinite difficulty, with 18 field-pieces. The floating ice in the river made the labor almost incredible. . . However, perseverance accomplished what at first seemed impossible . . . We entered the town with them pell-mell,” Knox explains.

Dec. 27, 1776 
I have the pleasure of congratulating you upon the success of an enterprise, which I had formed against a detachment of the enemy lying at Trenton, and which was executed yesterday morning, George Washington writes to the Continental Congress. 

Providence seemed to have smiled upon every part of this enterprise,” Henry Knox writes to his wife about the success of crossing the Delaware River and attacking Trenton.

Samuel Sherwood's prediction to his Connecticut congregation rings true in 1776.Liberty has been planted here, and the more it is attacked, the more it grows and flourishes."

Celebrating 240 years since 1776, adapted in part from Stories of Faith & Courage from the Revolutionary War (AMG)

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