History

You know that famous painting of Washington Crossing the Delaware? It’s inaccurate. He crossed the Delaware, but the painting is of the Rhine River. The painting by 19th century American Painter, German-born Emanuel Leutze was painted in Dusseldorf, Germany and the Rhine River was used as a model.

Even allowing for an artistic license, the painting has its share of errors. The American flag in the painting shows thirteen stars and stripes. George crossed the Delaware the day after Christmas in 1776. The flag design was not adopted until 1777.

Leutze’s painting also shows Washington in a rather small boat. Actually, Durham boats were used. They were 40 to 60-foot long flat bottom boats used to transport freight on America’s Northeast rivers.

The painting could not show what George did after he crosses the river. The enemy was encamped at Trenton. The Hessian commander Colonel Johann Rall was snug in his headquarters. Christmas was celebrated with cheer and some card playing.

Colonel Rall told his aides – no interruptions. When a loyalist spy rushed into camp with word that Washington had crossed the Delaware, the aides made him write it down on a piece of paper. A porter brought it to the Colonel. He stuffed it into his pocket and went back to his cards.

Hours later Washington’s forces open fire on the surprised enemy camp. The battle was short. The entire Hessian army encampment surrendered. Colonel Rall was mortally wounded. The note still stuffed in his pocket.

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