Monday, December 13, 2021


Frigid, unforgiving wind swept across the ice-crusted Delaware River as General Washington surveyed the darkness. It was madness, impossible. What they were about to do…could not be done. Unless…by some stroke of luck…or perhaps the merciful hand of Divine Providence…that this ragged, threadbare, blood-caked regiment of Continental soldiers would make it across the dangerous, murky waters in the dead of night.

The date was December 25, 1776.

Christmas Day, early morning. Freezing cold. Dead of winter.

Washington’s soldiers were running out of supplies. Morale was depressingly low. The Declaration of Independence had been signed just months before in a fever pitch of patriotism and independent zeal, but now, in the thankless, deathly colonial winter, it was difficult to remember exactly what they were fighting for.

Freedom. Independence. “Liberty or death,” as Patrick Henry so eloquently expressed just one year before in his timeless speech delivered to the Virginia Assembly in 1775. Now, perched in the wilderness, Washington was forced to make a difficult decision. His American forces desperately needed a victory to boost morale, and the nearly 1400 Hessian troops (trained mercenaries) at the fort in Trenton across the river would be an easy target for his considerably bigger force. However, the Delaware River had turned into a churning deathtrap of ice and snow…and what’s more, the Hessians were aware of Washington’s presence, as well as the possibility of an attack from the beleaguered American forces.

But no one would be crazy enough to cross the Delaware. Especially on Christmas Day.

No one, of course, except for Washington.

Despite insanely cold weather – a storm blew in that morning that pelted the troops with hellish snow, hail, and sleet – they managed somehow to get their boats into the water. Hours of fighting the ice, rain, and freezing elements finally yielded results when the troops touched the banks of the other side of the river, exhausted but alive. Once on dry land, they marched to Trenton, where they swiftly and easily overtook the shocked Hessian forces, scoring the Continental Army their first major victory of the American Revolution.

Washington’s gamble had paid off. The American Revolution was well underway, and his men were flying high on the ecstasy of a long-awaited victory, which would also strategically serve to encourage more troops to enlist to fight for the cause for independence. It was a Christmas miracle, but it would not be the only miracle that occurred throughout the course of the War for Independence. In 1779, General Washington and another officer rode between Brandywine Creek in Philadelphia and General Howe’s British camp. While riding, four British sharpshooters sighted the Continental officers, and, as the story goes, Washington turned and met the gaze of Major Patrick Ferguson, who for some inexplicable reason decided to spare the lives of the men in his sights. Later, Ferguson would learn the identity of the man he locked eyes with, remarking later that “I am sorry that I did not know at the time who it was” (Medved, 2016).

Yet another astonishing miracle is recorded in history when Washington and the Continental Army found themselves in a tight spot in Brooklyn Heights, where they had been working on defenses all summer. In August, British General Howe struck the Americans with riotous force, driving them back onto the bluff, boxed in by the river. There was no escape…and yet another American miracle prevailed. The next day, the temperature dropped and a freak thunderstorm swept into the harbor, preventing British ships from sailing to shore and lambasting the sopping, exhausted Continentals. Another miracle was yet to be had: as the weather died down, an intense, soupy fog rolled across Brooklyn, providing Washington’s men with the perfect opportunity to retreat across the river, invisible to the enemy that was pressing in on them from the front. Washington led his men in a successful retreat, and once again, the Continental Army escaped nearly unscathed (McNair, 2006). Without the perfect, well-timed intervention of weather and wind, the Revolutionary Army would have been squashed that day.

America itself, from the first moment that the Pilgrims placed their worn boots on Plymouth Rock to the blood-soaked battles that won the Revolutionary War, is a country borne from more than simple grit and determination. Like the divinely-appointed birth of Christ, whom we celebrate every Christmas season, so America’s very conception seems to have been stirred by God Himself. Between miraculous, last-minute escapes to the seemingly supernatural protection over Washington’s life, America exists because miracles exist, and because God, in his gracious mercy and goodness, gave humble American colonists the chance to live free – a chance that many generations of Americans after have relentlessly continued to preserve and protect through both word and deed.




Crossing of the Delaware. (2021). Washington Library. Mount Vernon.

McNair, Rod. (2006). Brooklyn Heights: The Dunkirk of the American Revolution. Tomorrow’s World.

Medved, Michael. (2016). American Miracle.





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