Name:Harrison Location:United States

The Original Lovable Little Fuzzball

Here's the straight stuff.

The adventures of Harrison are true.
Try a few of his Crunchy Bites for a taste.
--Alpha Human Mom

Sunday, December 25, 2005

The Boat Ride that Changed America*

And the world.

Christmas celebrates the birth of Jesus the Christ, but somethin' else was born one Christmas Day night long ago that that we should be rememberin'.

"As a bitter northeast wind blew on Christmas Day, twenty-four hundred Continental soldiers began assembling at McKonkey's Ferry, eight miles up the Delaware from Trenton. Beginning at sundown, Colonel John Glover's Fourteenth Massachusetts Continental Regiment-the Marbleheaders-began to ferry troops, horses, and eighteen cannon across the icy river in an ever-worsening storm of sleet and snow…

"As the stormy night dragged on, it was clear that the element of complete surprise Washington had hoped for on the march to Trenton had been lost because it took so long to ferry everyone across the river and the operation had been noisy and conspicuous. On the other hand, the accelerating storm effectively obscured the troops' advance as much as darkness and complete silence might have. The plan had been to have all the men and munitions across by midnight, but it was nearly four o'clock in the morning before the units were assembled on the New Jersey side, ready to march eight miles south to Trenton.

  "The exhausting physical effort,
  especially on the part of the
  Marblehead soldier-boatsmen,
  poling and steering the Durham
  boats amidst the floating blocks of
  ice, was notable. The booming voice
  of the three-hundred-pound giant,
  Colonel Henry Knox, was heard
  everywhere, providing organiza-
  tional stability… By the time the
march began the wind was blowing toward the south, supporting the marchers and hurling snow and ice into the faces of enemy sentries.

"Washington was determined to risk everything to carry out his major objective… From the north, Knox's batteries hurled their rounds down the streets, and soon Washington was enthralled to hear [General John] Sullivan's cannon joining in from the south. The dryness of the artillery firing chambers proved crucial. As the storm drove needles of sleet into the faces of the enemy, the Continentals fired grapeshot, round shot, and exploding shells.

"The Hessians, surprised and disoriented, could not form in ranks because of the sweeping fire of Knox's guns. Both their small arms and artillery were drenched and inoperable. Bayonets were useless because the Americans did not close in. The Hessians were surrounded, and surrendered after an hour and a half. The Continental Army had done the seemingly impossible: it captured nearly nine hundred Hessians, killed or wounded more than one hundred, and seized six field pieces, a thousand muskets, a complete set of band instruments, and forty hogsheads of rum. There are conflicting reports of American casualties, but no report lists more than a half dozen dead and wounded.

"What of the troops themselves-the boys and men who had endured so much suffering and discomfort-who had been away from home for so long, and whose enlistments would expire when the New Year began? Would they re-enlist? At their camps and garrison posts, the troops were paraded and their officers made speeches imploring them to stay on. One by one, most of the veterans re-enlisted. The Revolution was alive!"

Now that's somethin' to celebrate—unless you're a Demo-cat or part of the MSM.

AHM grew up where all that happened, spendin' time picnickin' and playin' and explorin' at will among places now officially a Tourist Attraction, full of regulated tours 'n red velvet ropes. She even got to see one of the famous re-enactments held every Christmas back when it was still led by the originator of the feat, St. John Terrell.

Sometimes the good ole' days really were good.

*by Sharon Hernes Silverman, originally published in Pennsylvania Heritage Magazine Volume XXV, Number 4 - Fall 1999

posted by Harrison at 7:08 PM


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