George Washington's crossing of the Delaware River, took place on Christmas night 1776, during the American Revolutionary War, and was the first move in a surprise attack organized by George Washington against the Hessian forces in Trenton, New Jersey. Planned in partial secrecy, Washington led Continental Army troops across the icy Delaware River in a logistically challenging and dangerous operation. Other planned crossings in support of the operation were either called off or ineffective, but this did not prevent Washington from surprising and defeating the troops of Johann Rall quartered in Trenton. The army crossed the river back to Pennsylvania, this time laden with prisoners and military stores taken as a result of the battle. His original plan included three separate river crossings, but only one actually made it.
It is one of the most famous paintings in American History.
Painted in 1851 by German artist Emanuel Leutze, Washington Crossing the Delaware became a sensation on both sides of the Atlantic. Painted in Dusseldorf Germany, Washington Crossing the Delaware shows a bold General Washington navigating through the frozen river with his compatriots braving the elements on their way to victory at Trenton. While the painting was in Germany, Leutze hoped that this brave episode in pursuit of American independence and republican rule would stir his fellow countrymen to more liberal reforms. In the fall of 1851 the painting was shipped to the United States where it wowed audiences in New York City and the U.S. Capitol Rotunda in Washington DC. The New York Evening Mirror boldly called it “the grandest, most majestic, and most effective painting ever exhibited in America.”
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