Hugh Harrington (above) is a fellow author and historian of whom I have the greatest respect for. We share the same publishers at The History Press and Patriots of the American Revolution and I am doing everything I can just to keep up with him. Hugh’s incredibly long list of credits include multiple books on Milledgeville GA and insights on both Sherlock Holmes and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. For more on Hugh’s published works visit his website at www.hughharrington.com/. We often chat via email and this week our discussion revolved around my last blog post on Washington’s crossing of the Delaware River. Hugh had a wonderful way of painting this event with words. He wrote:
It’s dark now in the Delaware River Valley. 234 years ago at this very hour it was dark, and cold, wet, miserable and frightening. Washington’s ragged, beaten army was lined up waiting their turn to cross the Delaware and almost certain destruction. They were crossing the river into the teeth of the enemy. If the Hessians knew they were coming the Patriot army would be slaughtered. When Washington went into battle he always left a route by which to retreat. Now however, there was no retreat. If defeated there was no escape; they could never get back across the Delaware. It was victory or death. Those cold, wet, shivering men walked all night to Trenton. This was the end of the war, it was the end of their lives. Just a week before Thomas Paine had written as the opening lines to The Crisis paper, “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.” These men did not shrink. But, they must have been almost as surprised as the Hessians were when they won the battle. Their stunning victory literally saved the revolution. It was still a probability that the war would be lost but they had at least delayed the utter destruction of the revolution. We ought to remember - and especially on Christmas night - to give thanks to those men of 1776 who crossed the Delaware River, marched through snow and cold into almost certain defeat and annihilation and emerged the victors.