Experience George Washington’s Christmas Crossing of the Delaware

“These are the times that try men’s souls. The summer soldier and 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.”

This passage is from General George Washington’s speech, given on the shores of the Delaware River on Christmas Day, 1776. That evening, Washington led his troops across the ice-choked river, through sleet and snow, and on to victory against the Hessians (German soldiers fighting for the British) in Trenton, NJ. This victory invigorated the troops at a time when morale was low and troops on both sides had mostly conceded to regrouping until the spring campaign.

Washington Crossing the Delaware

Every December, Washington’s historic crossing of the Delaware is reenacted at Washington Crossing State Park in Washington Crossing, Pennsylvania. The crossing is reenacted on Christmas Day, but if that’s not a convenient day for your visit, they also do a dress rehearsal earlier in December.

During the Crossing reenactment, the park hosts many fascinating displays and demonstrations. Families can tour several historic buildings on the grounds and learn about blacksmithing, colonial games, candle-making, quilt-making, cooking, crafts, and the boats that were used to cross the Delaware in harrowing conditions. Probably most fun for the kids (of all ages!) are the colonial musket drills. The historical actors delight in sharing their passion with you and your family.

Revolutionary soldier

Standing on the banks of the Delaware River on a cold, but sunny, day in December, I felt as I often do when visiting historical sites: Grateful. Thank you, General Washington, for your bold move that reignited the American Revolutionary war effort.

Musket drills, Washington Crossing

Washington Crossing State Park hosts special events nearly every month. It’s a wonderful place to visit and I highly recommend visiting during October to enjoy the colorful fall foliage. For more information, please check out the Washington Crossing State Park web site.


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2 thoughts on “Experience George Washington’s Christmas Crossing of the Delaware”

  1. I visited Washington Crossing State Park once when I was young and then again with my own kids, but never during a reenactment. On our last trip to the area we also visited the Old Barracks Museum in Trenton. The two attractions go hand in hand. Our guide at the Old Barracks was probably the best guide we have ever had. That says a lot because you know how often homeschool families visit museums and historical attractions! :)

  2. Great shots, James! I wonder if that is one of the same swans that I have phtoos of…If you can, you should try to make it to Washington’s Crossing on Christmas Day – they reenact the original crossing. I haven’t been there in MANY years, and the last time I went it was so cold out that my camera froze, but it is still worth it. A fun thing to do on Christmas day between the gift opening and early dinner.

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