Washington's Crossing

by David Hackett Fischer

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How does the state of New Jersey influence the outcome of events in Fischer's book?

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New Jersey played a very important role in the outcome of events. The state’s treacherous terrain and loyalist population led to a lot of desertions and lower morale amongst Washington’s men. However it also helped Washington surprise the British on several occasions, because the British did not think that the American troops would persist through difficult conditions like crossing the freezing Delaware River.

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New Jersey played a significant role in the way the Revolutionary War turned out. It had a large population of people who supported the British and its geography led to a lot of obstacles for Washington’s men. But ultimately Washington’s perseverance through the tough conditions in New Jersey helped him include the element of surprise in attacks on the British. The determination Washington and his men showed in New Jersey proved the resistance and perseverance of the colonists.

In 1776, intense British assaults on American troops forced the Americans into New Jersey. The soldiers were incredibly weary and the political and physical environment of the New Jersey countryside was not the most helpful. The roads were difficult to travel on, and the wealthy people who lived there tended to be supporters of the British. Such conditions lowered the morale of American troops, and motivated many men to desert the army. Fischer notes that many of these deserters caused “disorder” to spread throughout the state, as they became bandits who stirred up violence, robberies, and other trouble (Fischer 180).

The terrain and weather in New Jersey also made things difficult for American troops. In particular, the crossing of the Delaware river to take Trenton was a difficult, unsafe journey. However, Washington’s persistence in the face of New Jersey’s tough conditions worked in his favor. For instance, the British did not expect him to make the decision to cross the Delaware River because it was so freezing and dangerous. Even though this bold decision was rough for Washington’s troops, it ultimately helped the Americans surprise the British, which was a key part of winning the war.

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