Many Americans recognize the above picture of Washington crossing the Delaware but sadly few remember why he crossed in the first place.
On Christmas Day in 1776, the Americans under George Washington surprised English forces (mostly Hessian mercenaries) at Trenton, New Jersey. The victory was one of the most important American victories in all of the Revolutionary War.
The effect of the battle of Trenton was out of all proportion to the numbers involved and the casualties. The American effort across the colonies was galvanized and the psychological dominance achieved by the British in the preceding year overturned. Howe was stunned that a strong German contingent could be surprised in such a manner and put up so little resistance. Washington's constant problem was to maintain the enthusiasm of his army for the war, particularly with the system of one year recruitment and Trenton proved a much needed encouragement.