Tuesday, June 06, 2017

Washington Crossing the Delaware

In 1851, German American painter Emanuel Gottlieb Leutze painted the iconic picture Washington Crossing the Delaware, which portrayed the events of the night of December 25-26, 1776.  The river was icy and the weather severe.  Two detachments of soldiers were unable to cross the river, leaving Washington with only 2,400 men under his command to launch a surprise attack on the Hessian garrison at Trenton, New Jersey. The Hessian garrison was caught off guard early on the morning of December 26.  After a short, sharp battle, most of the Hessian’s surrendered.  The victory at Trenton came at a critical moment.  Badly battered over the course of several months, the morale of Washington’s army was collapsing.  This much needed victory boosted the Continental Army's flagging morale, and inspired re-enlistments.
Leutze painted three versions of Washington’s crossing.  One version, hanging in Germany, was destroyed in a bombing raid during World War II.  The other two versions are now in the possession of the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Minnesota Marine Art Museum.

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