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History

Rare Insight into 2 Black Soldiers Who Were Involved in the Crossing

January 12th, 2022

Excerpts from Peter Jennings’ pension applications. Rutherford County Record Book 9, pages 71-72, Rutherford County Archives, Murfreesboro Tennessee.   Recordkeeping around the time of the crossing was spotty in many respects, but it was especially so with regard to the Black soldiers who were involved. However, thanks largely to preserved federal veterans pension applications, historians have been able to develop relatively nuanced profiles of two of those soldiers, Jacob Francis and Peter Jennings. “It’s ironic in a tragic way,” says museum curator Kimberly McCarty. “We’re able to learn so much more about some Black soldiers through their pension applications. But they’re Read More

Four Common Misconceptions About the Ten Crucial Days

December 22nd, 2021

Considering the piecemeal recordkeeping of the time and general chaos that often surrounds war’s most intense moments, it’s astonishing that we know as much as we do about the Ten Crucial Days, the pivotal period surrounding the crossing. However, there are a few central facts that are frequently misconstrued to this day. The crossing began on Christmas Eve. The first involves the date of the crossing itself. “There were some references in the early 19th century that describe it as taking place on the ‘eve’ of Christmas, which modern readers could, and have, misinterpreted to mean Christmas Eve, when, in Read More

John Sullivan Challenge Coin Now Available

November 29th, 2021

Washington Crossing Historic Park’s 2021 Challenge Coin is now available. The cost is $17.76, including tax. Shipping is an additional fee. The Major General John Sullivan Challenge Coin can be purchased in the Visitor Center gift shop or on our website. Every year until 2026—the 250th anniversary of the crossing of the Delaware River—Washington Crossing Historic Park will release a new challenge coin. The back of each year’s coin will feature a different officer in the Continental army, while the front features the crossing as depicted in Emanuel Leutze’s “Washington Crossing the Delaware” painting. About Major General John Sullivan Major Read More

December Lecture Spotlights Unknown Crossing Participants

November 26th, 2021

Colonels John Glover and Henry Knox, future U.S. President James Monroe, and of course General George Washington are all celebrated participants in the historic Christmas Day crossing of the Delaware River. But who were the other 2,396 participants comprising Washington’s army at the time?  Washington Crossing Historic Park curator Kimberly McCarty will introduce guests to four relatively unknown figures from this momentous event during her Sunday, December 5 lecture titled, “Who Was Here in 1776.” The lecture takes place from 7 – 8 p.m. and will be held in-person at Washington Crossing Historic Park (1112 River Road, Washington Crossing, PA Read More

Where Did the Soldiers’ Food Come From? And Who Did the Cooking?

October 27th, 2021

    While there was a system in place for feeding the Continental Army, museum curator Kimberly McCarty says that it was plagued by trouble throughout the war. “Which is why you hear so many stories about hungry soldiers,” she says. The Commissary Department responsible for supplying food and equipment. Because the Continental Army was established with the Revolutionary War, the Commissary Department was also new. In many ways, it resembled the British Army’s system for distributing provisions. That wasn’t a coincidence, according to McCarty. “A lot of the Continental Army’s officers served with the British Army previously,” she says. Read More

Two Men, One Name and Difficult Decisions of Faith

October 27th, 2021

  The Society of Friends (known as “Quakers”) was a prominent religion in colonial Pennsylvania and the “testimonies” of peace, simplicity, integrity, equality, community, and non-violence are core to its beliefs. Unfortunately, during times of war and social change, adherence to faith can sometimes be challenged in unexpected ways, as evidenced by the histories of two men named Ennion Williams. The Question of Slavery The first Ennion (b. 1697) was involved in shipping and estate settlement near Bristol, PA. He was affluent, and heavily involved in the Falls Meeting in Bucks County. He was also a slave owner—a fact that Read More

Continental Army Soldiers’ Clothing, Head to Toe

September 27th, 2021

If you’ve ever attended the First Crossing or Christmas Day Crossing reenactments at Washington Crossing Historic Park, you might have noticed something: the soldiers aren’t wearing the same uniform. In fact, the clothing worn by the Continental Army progressed greatly throughout the Revolutionary War. In the early days of the Revolution, militiamen wore civilian clothes. It wasn’t until 1779 that Congress adopted a standardized military uniform. “At the time of the crossing in 1776, soldiers’ uniforms were provided by individual state governments to their troops,” says John Godzieba, president of the Friends of Washington Crossing Park and the reenactor who Read More

What happened to the crossing site between 1776 and the park’s founding?

September 17th, 2021

About 140 years passed between the crossing on December 25, 1776 and when the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania passed legislation in 1917 that established Washington Crossing Historic Park. But the crossing, and its impact on the Revolutionary War, never faded from the collective consciousness in that time, says Kimberly McCarty, the park’s curator. “In fact, it became mythologized not long after it happened,” she says. Depicting the Crossing In 1819, Thomas Sully, a leading portrait painter in Philadelphia at the time, painted the now-famous “The Passage of the Delaware.” The scene features a majestic-looking George Washington presiding over the first brigade to cross Read More