The winter of 1780 — So Cold You Could Walk Across the Hudson
In what is considered possibly the coldest winter in New Jersey history, on January 17th, 1780, both the Hudson and East Rivers froze over. People were able to walk from New Jersey to Manhattan and Staten Island over the frozen water and a Hessian officer was able to walk from Manhattan to Long Island walking on the ice.
Sleighs, not boats, brought firewood from New Jersey to Manhattan. It was reported that many species of wild animals were almost exterminated. In the month of January the high temperature in Philadelphia topped the freezing mark a grand total of once. According to Encyclopedia.com, a total of 28 snowstorms hit the US, many of them in quick succession.
General Alexander marched his troops over six miles of a frozen channel with artillery to attack Staten Island. The American troops under George Washington were quartered in Morristown with six feet of snow on the ground. According to HistoryNet.com, a snowstorm on January 3rd was so fierce that soldiers could not endure even a few minutes in the storm. Veterans of both Valley Forge (two years prior) said the winter in Morristown was much much worse. Many of the soldiers had no coats. Food was scarce and many men died of starvation. Inflation was high as commerce ground to a halt because of the weather so inflation rose making it difficult for General Washington to purchase provisions and mutiny was threatened.
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