Historic Park

P.O. Box 103
Washington Crossing,
Pennsylvania, 18977
(215) 493-4076

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Spirit of 76

Welcome to the
Washington Crossing Historic Park
Official Home Page

Park Hours
Tuesday - Saturday: 9:00 am - 5:00 pm
Sunday: Noon - 5:00 pm
Closed certain holidays and Mondays
Admission is charged

y the winter of 1776, General George Washington and his ragged army had experienced only defeat and despair. The War for Independence was going badly with failure following failure. In the preceding months, Washington's campaign in New York had not gone well; the Battle of Long Island ended in a loss, and a series of defeats settled around Washington as he was forced to retreat across New Jersey to Pennsylvania.

As the harsh Pennsylvania winter set in, the morale of the American troops was at an all time low. The soldiers were forced to live without sufficient food and warm clothing and Washington watched his army shrink from desertion and expiring enlistments. Now more than ever, a victory was desperately needed.

Washington's original plan for the attack on Trenton called for three divisions to cross the Delaware River under cover of darkness. The boats to be used for the crossing were gathered earlier in the month in compliance with Washington's orders; a defensive measure aimed at keeping all boats out of British hands. Various types of boats were collected; most notable were the large, heavy Durham boats used to transport pig iron down the Delaware.

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Fully expecting to be supported by two divisions crossing to the south of Trenton, Washington assembled his own troops near McConkey's Ferry in preparation for the crossing. By 6:00 pm on Christmas Day, 1776, over 2,400 troops began crossing the ice-choked river. The weather made the operation slow and difficult, and the troops were forced to fight their way through sleet and blinding snow. These conditions proved to be too much for the two support divisions to the south, and Washington's division alone made the attack.

Against all odds, Washington and his men successfully completed the crossing and marched to Trenton on the morning of December 26th, taking the Hessian garrison by surprise. By moving ahead with his bold and daring plan, Washington was able to re-ignite the cause of freedom and give new life to the American Revolution.

Take a step back in time with a virtual tour of the park, and don't forget to look at our upcoming events. Don't know how to get here? We've provided a map and directions that you can print and take with you. Our phone number is provided at the top of the page for more information, but don't forget the watchword - "Victory or Death!"

Last updated April 4th, 2000

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