CHARLOTTE – In January, 1776, George Washington lamented, “If I shall be able to rise superior to these [lack of resources], and many other difficulties which might be innumerated, I shall most religiously believe that the finger of Providence is in it, to blind the eyes of our enemies;- for surely, if we get well throu this month; it must be for want of their knowing the disadvantages we labour under.”
At Christmastime that year, the war for Independence was officially not even 6 months old and the situation was even more dire. Although the Continental Army had supernaturally avoided annihilation by narrowly escaping through the night from Long Island, New York across the East River in late August, many battles had been lost. Their numbers had dwindled, morale was low, and more enlistment periods would expire by year end. Further, the British again thought they had Washington cornered, now in Pennsylvania, but they decided to wait until spring to attack.
The “Washington Crossing the Delaware” portrait immortalizes the treacherous scene that used Washington’s code words “Victory – or Death” with the men united behind their beloved General. Many rag-wrapped bloody feet walked 9 miles to Trenton, New Jersey in the sleet, snow, and frigid temperatures after crossing the icy river. Three hours behind schedule, Washington was still able to reach Trenton by 8am for a surprise attack. The Hessian’s (hired mercenaries fighting for the British) falsely believed they were surrounded and surrendered in less than an hour. The Americans had killed 22 Hessians, gravely wounded 84 and captured 896 along with muskets, bayonets, ammunition, swords, and artillery. The Americans had lost few and only due to the elements, not the enemy.
The miraculous victory demonstrating the finger of Providence combined with Washington’s compassioned speech, spurred extension of enlistment periods and the continued building of America’s Godly Heritage.