Where Exactly Did Washington Cross the Delaware?

August 29th, 2019 History
The marker at Washington Crossing Historic Park (PA)
The marker at Washington Crossing Historic Park (PA)

We all know that General George Washington and his troops crossed the ice-choked Delaware River under the cover of darkness on December 25, 1776 near McConkey’s Ferry Inn. But have you ever wondered where exactly George crossed the river?

It’s a question that’s sparked much speculation among historians but has yet to yield a concrete answer.

“The truth is, no one knows for sure because it wasn’t recorded by anyone, including Washington himself. Or, at least, those records have yet to be uncovered,” says Guy Sava, a historical interpreter at the park.

There’s also no way of knowing with any certainty whether Washington crossed in a Durham boat or aboard a ferry.

“There are a lot of reasons to believe he could have taken a ferry,” Sava says. “Perhaps the most significant one is that he had his horse, and it would have been easily spooked by the river. So the ferry would have been a safer means to get it across the river.”

But there are just as many reasons, Sava admits, to believe that Washington would have taken a Durham boat. “It’s easy to see him wanting to be the first to reach the other bank so that he could set a good example for his men,” he says.