Historic re-enactment set for Christmas Day in Mercer County
It’s quite a sight.
More than 100 re-enactors will commemorate the 242nd anniversary of General George Washington and his troops crossing the Delaware River on Christmas Day.
The crossing, which was actually at night, led to a strategic victory in the battle of Trenton the day after Christmas in 1776. Six years later, the American Revolution was won.
According to Tom Maddock, historical interpreter for the Washington Crossing Historic Park on the Delaware River in Washington Crossing, Pennsylvania, four replica cargo boats will be used for the crossing from Pennsylvania to New Jersey. As many as 200 re-enactors dressed as Revolutionary war soldiers will participate.
“A lot of it depends how many of these guys show up, a lot of them say they’re going to come but some of them don’t show.”
He said the re-enactors are "normal working people" who happen to be "very passionate about history" and dress up to make the crossing seem as realistic as possible.
He said each cargo boat will have a crew of 11 and carry 15 to 20 soldier re-enactors during the crossing.
When Washington lands in New Jersey, the artillery battery starts firing out some rounds. Then people go home to Christmas dinner.
The re-enactment is carried out every year, according to Clay Craighead, the Washington Crossing State Park historian, because it sets the stage for a significant moment in history.
He said up until this point in the Revolutionary War, Washington and his troops had been defeated at every turn. When they snuck across the Delaware on Christmas night, then launched a surprise attack the next morning, they were in desperate need of a victory to raise morale and help attract more American soldiers.
And they got it.
“This victory at Trenton revitalizes the will to persevere and very possibly saves the war from a quick defeat," Craighead said.
He said even Washington himself had expressed doubts about winning the war against the British.
“Trenton was that huge turning point, morale turning point, that I think saves the Revolution.”
Re-enactment activities will begin at 12:30 p.m. on Christmas along the riverbank at Washington Crossing State Park in Titusville, Mercer County, then the actual crossing kicks off at 1 p.m.
You can contact reporter David Matthau at David.Matthau@townsquaremedia.com