Days 3 and 4 – December 27-28, 1776

As at every difficult moment, Washington decided to convene a council of war. On the afternoon of December 27, he informed his adjutant, “I have called a meeting of the general officers,” to discuss “what future operations may be necessary.” Just before the council met, a courier arrived with unexpected news. It was a message from John Cadwalader, who reported that he had crossed the Delaware River into New Jersey on the second try, early on the morning of the twenty-seventh with 1,800 troops, mostly Associators. He had done so at the urging of his men, who were always determined to make their own choices. Once on the Jersey shore, they demanded that he remain, even to the point of mutiny. They were in Burlington, south of Trenton, and discovered that the enemy were in a “panic” and had gone off “with great precipitation,” some of them all the way to Amboy on the east side of the state. Cadwalader saw an opportunity. “If we can drive them from West Jersey,” wrote this merchant-turned-soldier, “the success will raise an army by next Spring, & and establish the Credit of the Continental Money.” Here was an unexpected way of turning victory into a larger triumph. . . . ” The central question was settled: One victory was not enough. The army should seize the moment and attack again very quickly with all its strength. . . . Having made that decision, Washington resolved to commit all of his resources to the enterprise. Early the next morning, December 28, 1776, gallopers went from his headquarters to generals in the field. It snowed up to six inches in the morning; the temperature was at 28° and dropped into the 20’s that night. ~ From David Hackett Fischer’s WASHINGTON’S CROSSING. All Rights Reserved © 2004 Oxford University Press.