“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
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
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
Thomas Paine, the author of Common Sense. Paine’s
new pamphlet, The Crisis,
is published for the first time in the Pennsylvania
“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,”
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,”
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,”
Washington writes to the Continental Congress.
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
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."