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In the first six months of the Revolution, the Continental Army was driven back, out of New York, across New Jersey and into Pennsylvania. The American troops dwindled from a high of nearly 20,000 volunteers down to barely 2,000, and half of those were planning on leaving at the end of the year, when their six-month enlistment would be over. In a desperate act, Washington crossed the dangerous ice-filled Delaware River in the freezing cold on Christmas Day evening, Dec. 25, 1776, and attacked the Hessian mercenary troops at Trenton, who were not at their highest level of alertness due to the effects of their Christmas partying. Gen. Washington captured nearly a thousand of them, and ten days later captured 3,000 British at Princeton. Washington later wrote: “The Hand of Providence has been so conspicuous in all this (the course of the war) that he must be worse than an infidel that lacks faith, and more wicked that has not gratitude to acknowledge his obligations; but it will be time enough for me to turn Preacher when my present appointment ceases.”

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