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from the New Jersey Historical Society edition cover

The Crossing

Every American believes he knows the facts of Washington's famous crossing of the Delaware and the Battle of Trenton that followed. There are the textbooks and there is the famous painting -- and neither of them has much to do with the truth. The truth was a moment of raw courage and spiritual splendor perhaps not equaled again in our history. The truth -- the full truth of what happened then on the Delaware River -- is a memory to be treasured by Americans for all time.

Those who joined in that desperate venture emerge out of the mists of history as living men who knew despair and heartbreak. There was the skinny fox hunter from Virginia, who had seen his once fearless and victorious army of 20,000 Continentals decimated and who joined them in flight across the Hudson, through New Jersey, and into Pennsylvania. There on the west bank of the Delaware, Washington and his army of young volunteers waited in the bitter cold and snow, still in their summer clothing, their enlistments to end within the month. It was then that Washington decided on his final gamble, to recross the ice-filled Delaware and attack the mercenaries who in earlier battles had struck terror into the hearts of his men.

And there were others: General John Glover, who with his New England fishermen had saved the Virginian's honor once too often for there to be any love between them; Tom Paine, American's first war correspondent; the wild men of courage, young Alexander Hamilton and James Monroe; and the Hessians themselves who had come to die in an alien land.

While dispelling the myths of history -- Emanuel Leutze's painting of the crossing is extraordinary for its inaccuracies, the Hessians were not drunk at the Battle of Trenton -- Mr. Fast has written an unforgettable, true account of the turning point in America's struggle for freedom and independence.

from the dust jacket of the 1971 Morrow first edition

The story of the historic crossing on Christmas night 1776 and of the Battle of Trenton.

After four months of desperate retreat across New Jersey in 1776, George Washington and his Continentals waited in the bitter cold and snow of Pennsylvania. The commander in chief decided on a final gamble -- to recross the Delaware River and attack some 1,200 Hessian mercenaries at Trenton.

"In the cold bitter reality of defeat and death, an army was born, and this is the story of their borning and of the agony that went with it -- and how awful in those birth pangs was the realization of what war is and what happens to men who fight."