George Washington Crossing the Delaware

1 - Boat By, Nan Claire Falkner His Excellency’s boat was dry docked for the winter. Each year several men heaved the Durham boat on shore to protect the integrity of the hull. Barnacles damaged the flat bottom boat and each spring proper repairs had been made to allow it to once again float. On the night of the crossing of General Washington, the boat was lifted and set quietly into the water. As the soldiers boarded they put the oars in the Delaware River and thus made it possible for the Continental Army to win at Trenton helping the Revolutionary War at a crucial time.   2 - Washington 3 - Flag

Figure 1: George Washington Crossing the Delaware

Figure 2: original Continental Flag

Emanuel Leutze, 1851 Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York City Elisha Bostwick was a soldier in the Continental Army. In his memoirs he wrote that they had to pound on the bottoms of the boats to break up the ice so they would stay afloat while crossing the river. He stated that the much needed win at Trenton convinced him to re-enlist along with several of his friends.


53 thoughts on “George Washington Crossing the Delaware

  1. Great bit of history, Nan. I learned something else I didn’t know. I can only imagine how cold it must have been if ice was forming on the boat as they traveled. That was truly a matter of life or death. Well done.:) — Suzanne

  2. Nice use of the prompt, Nan. Did you watch the PBS documentary “The Revolution” a couple years back? It was fascinating. Can’t wait for the “Sons of Liberty” which starts Sunday night on the History Channel.

    • Dear Russell, I probably did, we watch everything – just about – on the History Channel and I saw that boat and thought it looked sort of like the boat Washington crossed in which were called Durham boats. Have a good week! Nan

    • Dear Dawn, Thank you so much for reading my story. I love history and even took it at a community college again when I was 50. It was so easy because I had lived a lot of it myself. Enjoy your week! Nan 🙂

  3. Yikes, the picture you included makes me wonder how they ever made it across! Nice slice of history, Nan. I , too, love history. Right now my husband and I are taking a class about WW I. Also took a class on Colonial History in the fall and am looking forward to another about pre-white history of the Native Americans. Can’t get enough, I guess. Anyway enough about me. Your wrote a wonderful story in 100 words.

    • Dear Alicia, Thank you so much for your kind comments! We watch History and History 2 channel all the time. The Revolutionary War is my favorite to read about, and the Civil War is second (I’m from Arkansas and my ancestors must have been idiots – so sorry). Nan

    • Dear Dawn, Thank you so much for your comment! I love history but when in college when I was 18, I didn’t appreciate it as much – the guy sitting in front of my in class had Lice (I’m not kidding at all) in his hair and I spent the whole time looking at my desk. It was really creepy and the teacher didn’t care. I think she said “Adjust.”

  4. This is an interesting look at the crucial events of that river crossing, Nan. I love the way you brought the image of the boat to life with reference to the encrusting barnacles – and the way the men so quietly lifted the boat into the water and boarded her. That adds to the suspense of their actions. An enjoyable read.

    • Dear Alice, Thank you so much and history is so interesting – the History Channel and my classes in college have been so important to me and I love it! Have a good week! Nan 🙂

  5. Nan, a most excellent story! You shined a light on an interesting bit of history. That must have been one tough and cold boat ride. I shiver thinking about chipping ice at the bottom of a boat. Well done and well researched.

    • Dear Amy, Thank you for your comments! The soldiers stomped on the bottom of the boat with their feet and the ice broke off the boat. General Washington needed this battle of Trenton to succeed or he was going to lose most of his soldiers due to the fact that they had only signed up for one year (which was almost over). This happened late on Christmas night.

  6. Dear Nan,
    The stories I heard about that winter endured by Washington and his men have haunted me since I first began hearing them in early grade school. It never dawned on me that boats would typically not have even been set into the water during this time of year. Interesting stuff.


    • Dear Marie Gail, Thank you for your comments. I know we took our boat out of the marina and water each fall and dry docked it so it wouldn’t freeze in the lake. Just like turning your canoe upside down when you are done. I just watched another American History Channel special and it is so interesting, although I have lived a lot of it. Thanks, Nan

    • Dear Randy, Not necessarily – he had his men finding boats for his soldiers to cross the Delaware River, He needed a army victory really bad and this was sort of a last ditch effort for a victory! Thanks for reading my story – however, I guess it’s really not fiction. There is a plethora of information on the internet.

  7. The boat’s not identical but the story and history are informative.  So much I didn’t know.
    Credit to Georgia Koch for the photo prompt; her initials are present, but her name is missing.

    • Dear Subroto, Thank you for reading and commenting. According to the American History books – this did happen. The painting of George Washington has several inaccuracies including the wrong flag which wasn’t adopted until a later date. Nan

    • Thank you Sarah Ann, I love the Revolutionary War history and the Civil War too. Although, I’m from Arkansas (which was one of the states that joined the Confederacy). I hope none of my relatives were on the wrong side of slavery – a horrible embarrassment to our country. Nan 🙂

  8. Not only an interesting story, but an interesting historical backstory. Thank you for both and for making me think this morning!

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