We already went a historical reenactment this year, but when I found out that we could watch Washington cross the Delaware River last weekend, I could not pass up the opportunity. The kids loved the last historical reenactment we went to and the crossing of the Delaware is such an important part of the American Revolution that I thought it would be a great educational experience.
So, we set out for the reenactment despite a weather forecast calling for snow. The reenactment started at 2:00, but there was going to be a little festival beforehand that I thought we’d enjoy. We drove for about half an hour when it started to snow. Little flakes swirled around and looked so delicate from the car window. We arrived at Washington Crossing State Park in Hopewell, New Jersey an hour before the event. We quickly learned that I was confused and in the wrong place. We needed to be in Washington Crossing Historic Park on the other side of the river in Pennsylvania. Who knew one little word could lead me miles from our intended destination?
As we drove down a scenic river road and across a narrow bridge, the snow started falling harder. By the time we reached the correct park, it was no longer just a flurry. We were also not as early as I had hoped we would be. In fact, we were just in time.
The snow was coming down pretty hard, and we were freezing standing there. The kids commented on how cold it was, but even they realized how much colder the soldiers must have been. Many were not wearing coats and had tied rags around their arms and legs to keep warm. We learned that at the time of the crossing Washington was practically begging the Continental Congress for more supplies as some of his men did not even have shoes. Morale was very low.
We learned that on the night of December 25, 1776, large chunks of ice were floating in the river, making the crossing very difficult. However, the crossing was successful and Washington’s army marched south to surprise the Hessians. The Battle of Trenton ensued and the patriots won, improving morale for the soldiers.
We didn’t stay for the little festival, but the reenactment was worth the confusing drive. I had seen the famous painting of Washington crossing the Delaware, but I don’t think my children have. I am glad they saw this reenactment first because it was more realistic and truer to history. The boats were larger than the painting, the flag was different, and the river is not nearly as wide as it is depicted. But, I hope that seeing the reenactors in their thin clothes on the bank of the river will be a memory that stays with my children. So many people fought for our freedom, and none of us should ever forget that.
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