The Crossing
1999 novel by Howard Fast ; 2000 movie starring Jeff Daniels

Classification : Historical novels - historical movies - American history - Revolutionary War - George Washington - the crossing of the Delaware River - the battle of Trenton, New Jersey

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The Crossing , by Howard Fast (paperback, November 1999)

The Crossing (movie, February 2000, running time : 1 hour and 40 minutes)

          Howard Fast, award-winning author of 83 previous novels and the screenplays of several famous movies, wrote The Crossing , a historically accurate novel about a famous event in the American Revolution which we generally call "the crossing of the Delaware River."

          Howard Fast also wrote the screenplay for the movie The Crossing , starring Jeff Daniels in the role of General George Washington. The 1999 movie was televised on A&E on January 10, 2000 and it was released on video on February 29.

          The book includes photographs from the movie.

"My men are not soldiers. They are lads. The have put their trust in me. They could have deserted -- thousands have -- but these lads have not. They remain with me, and I command this army, and if I, a bumbling Virginia farmer, should decide to lead them to hell, they will follow me into hell."

Jeff Daniels,
as George Washington
in the 1999 movie
The Crossing

          George Washington (1732-1799), previously the Virginia delegate to the Continental Congress, was appointed by Congress to be the general of the Continental Army in 1775.

          In December of 1776, after several significant British victories in New York and New Jersey, including the British capture of New York City, Washington was convinced that an immediate retaking Trenton, New Jersey was essential, or the revolution would surely be lost. This was the only weak point in the British defenses, and the weak point would be temporary.

          On the night of December 25, 1776, George Washington led thousands of troops across the Delaware River into Trenton, New Jersey. Their mission was to attack the Hessians, German mercenaries fighting for England. The Hessians are expected to be drunk and sleeping after a night of Christmas feasting. If Washington and his troops can reach them before sunrise, they plan to surprise the Hessians and massacre them in their beds.

          It is essential to get all troops across the river to Trenton before sunrise, but it also seems to be mathematically impossible to do it. General Washington says, "If I do not cross tomorrow, there will be no army."

          Washington's troops discover that the gunpowder they carry is wet -- now their bayonets will be their only weapons.

          Washington has the troops wait patiently and silently on the New Jersey side until everyone has crossed the river, which takes the entire night. The sun rises -- now they have no choice but to attack in daylight.

          The Hessians surrender, and they are rounded up in an orderly manner. When it's over, Washington asks for the final count of how many men he has lost. He is informed that the total number of his casualties is zero.

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The Crossing , novel by Howard Fast - paperback

The Crossing -- Video

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