The Founding Fathers signed the Declaration of Independence. There was no going back. The country was at war. George Washington and his troops were ill-prepared and lacked weapons and supplies. They endured many discouraging moments, but Washington kept trying.
- English warships came to Long Island in the summer of 1776. The ships carried 20,000 soldiers. Some were English, some were paid German soldiers.
- The English general, General Howe, had a strong army. He was ready to fight.
- The English ships fired their guns and the soldiers came onto Long Island.
- George Washington and his men fought hard, but by week’s end, 1,000 men had died. He knew he had to get off Long Island or lose all his men.
- He sent his men for boats and when night came, they were ready to cross the river. A heavy fog hid the men from the English.
- A woman who was loyal to the King saw the men. She sent her slave to alert General Howe. But the slave only found German soldiers who spoke no English. They couldn’t understand her.
- In the morning, the English discovered that the colonial soldiers were gone.
- After another battle in New York, George Washington needed to retreat again. He would have preferred to fight, but he needed more soldiers. He was waiting for the colonies to send more.
- All that fall, the English soldiers chased after Washington’s troops. In December, Washington came to the Delaware River and Trenton, New Jersey. The men had marched for miles and were tired and cold, but Washington could not let them rest. German soldiers were close behind.
- The men went across the Delaware River in boats. When the Germans arrived, they could not chase Washington’s men because there were no boats left.
- The German soldiers celebrated Christmas night in Trenton. They sat by their fires and sang and drank wine.
- Across the river, Washington’s soldiers were tired and discouraged. They had no fire or wine. They wondered if the war would ever end. But Washington had a plan. He knew the Germans were celebrating across the river and would not be up to fighting. This was his big chance.
- 2,500 soldiers with their horses and guns loaded onto boats and crossed the Delaware River by night. Up the river, the ice was breaking up. The soldiers feared the ice would come down the river and hit their boats. Some turned back.
- Those that pressed on landed at Trenton at 3 a.m. They marched on the German soldiers and took them by surprise. The German soldiers tried to rouse themselves, but it was too late. They were surrounded. Washington captured 1,000 men that day—his first victory.
Watch a video about the crossing of the Delaware.
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