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Author Topic: 227 years ago this very night...
Charles
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In what has become something of a tradition for me, I'm reposting the story of the Battle of Trenton.

On Christmas of Y2K, I posted this under the title of "A Bedtime Story". In 2001, I posted it as a source of inspiration in the shadow of 9-11.

I originally posted this with the intent of helping to keep the morale of struggling animation artists up, as well as to remind Americans of the historical significance of this day. I dug it up again and am republishing it for the fourth consecutive Christmas so new members and visitors to AN can read it. Considering the ongoing struggle of animation artists and people of good will, and now with Roy Disney among the rebels, I think it's a good idea to provide a reminder for our community of just how hard and difficult the struggle for freedom and independence from tyrants can be, and how if we persevere, we'll win out in the end.

It's not my intention to glorify war and bloodshed. But this is such an excellent historical example of determination in the face of overwhelming adversity. Maybe its retelling can help inspire our community as we head into the new year and deal with the unique challenges that await us.

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The following is a true story. It happened 227 years ago this very night, at this very hour...

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Charles
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Member # 7

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In December, 1776, the Continental Army of the newly formed United States of America had been fighting the forces of the British Empire for 6 months. The Continentals, led by their Commander in Chief, General George Washington, had suffered defeat in every battle that they had been engaged in. Of an army more than 20,000 strong with 300 pieces of artillery, they now numbered less than 2,000 men fit for combat with only 18 canons.

Decimated by the superior fighting force of the British, disease, disertion and starvation, the American Army was in shambles. They were saved two weeks earlier by securing a few large ore boats from a smelter down river on the Delaware who was not willing to give them up on behalf of the cause. General Washington managed to ferry the remaining troops and canon before the British Army could pin them down in New Jersey and put an end to the American Revolution once and for all.

Four days before Christmas, 1776. The prospects of the American Army were bleak to say the least. General Howe and 20,000 British regulars were encamped on the other side of the Delaware, waiting for the river to freeze so that he and his troops could march across the ice and hand the Continentals their terms for a non-conditional surrender. They were backed by several thousand Hessians. Experienced, well trained and highly feared German mercenaries who were assisting the British in their campaign to crush the revolution in the North American colonies.

So confident was General Howe of his impending victory over the Americans that he allowed General Cornwalis to sail back to England.

The American Army, made up mostly of teenage boys, merchants, farmers, shopkeepers and fisherman, had no food, no shoes, no blankets, no tents, no ammunition. Congress had abandoned Philadelphia because it could not be defended. They left for Baltimore with a dispatch to General Washington stating that they could not provide his troops with any funds for supplies. They left the entire decision of pursuing American independence up to him. That is why he is called the Father of our Country.

On December 21, Washington disclosed to his staff his plans for turning their fortunes. There were 1200 Hessian troops camped at Trenton, New Jersey. These were the same troops that massacred the Continentals at the Battle of Brooklyn, where they shot and bayoneted in the back more than 500 Americans as they attempted to retreat.

General Washington's plan was a bold one. On the evening of December 25, the Army and artillery were to be ferried back across the Delaware in the middle of the night, march ten miles down shore to Trenton and attack the Hessians before dawn. He anticipated that the Christmas celebration of the enemy would leave them ill fit for fighting the next day.

When he disclosed this plan to his staff, General Gates called him an insane fool who was not fit to command. He suggested that Washington and the Army of the United States surrender as it was the only option available. Ah, but surrender was never an option with Mr. Washington. He had Gates escorted from the camp under armed guard with orders to immediately shoot him if he attempted to communicate with his troops.

On Christmas night of the year 1776, George Washington and his ragtag band of freedom fighters crossed the icey waters of the Delaware River. They reached Trenton at 8:00 in the morning of December 26th.

They attacked the Hessians and fought them in hand to hand combat as they were stirring from their sleep, overfed and hung over from their Christmas parties the day before.

It was a tremendous victory for the Continentals. The first victory for the American Army. They captured Trenton and more than 5 tons of corn meal along with salt pork and beef. They had food, clothing, canons, ammunition, gun powder, shoes, blankets, medicine and tents, along with plenty of German prisoners of war.

In what was nothing less than a miracle in the eyes of General Washington and the rest of the soldiers that followed him, the Hessian casualties numbered about 300. The Americans had none. Nobody killed. Nobody wounded.

A few days later, Washington's Army attacked the British at Princeton, New Jersey and defeated them. It wasn't too much longer before Cornwalis had to get back on a boat and sail for the colonies.

It took George Washington and the Continental Army seven more grueling, miserable years of war before Cornwalis and the British surrendered and recognized the independence of the United States of America.

The tide turned on December 26, 1776.

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