High winds prevent annual re-creation of Washington’s crossing

BY Andrew Schmertz, Correspondent |

The drums beat, the canons were in position and the army marched. But unlike 241 years ago, hundreds of people were on hand to watch as George Washington prepared to cross the Delaware. Alas, unlike 1776, the crossing was scrubbed due to high winds.

But General Washington, or at least the man who plays him, still had a good time.

“Especially for the crossing, just seeing the troops and having my officers around, it really gets you in the mood and the spirit and the mindset of being the general,” said John Godzieba.

The actual crossing took place Christmas night, in order to surprise the British. No surprise this Christmas, just a reminder of how much history is in our backyard.

Bill and Andrew Agress, a father and son team from Lawrenceville have been coming here as re-enacters for several years.

“I think it’s very important for them to know the history of our country. For them to understand we are based on freedom,” said Bill Agress.

“Colonel Hand, who my dad re-enacts, leading up to the Battle of Trenton engaged in delaying tactics. And the rifleman were sent out to delay the British on their way to Trenton so that the American troops would be prepared for their arrival,” said Andrew Agress.

Not all the history on display was accurate. Mary Francis Coffey fired the cannon on Monday, but women never had that role in the 1700s.

“During the crossing, women were predominantly camp followers. Yes, they had a large role in what happened here. They were there to help with the cooking, the cleaning,” according to Coffey.

Despite some disappointment, hundreds still turned out to experience a little bit of history. George Washington’s crossing of the Delaware of course kicked off the ten days that changed the course of the war. And over the next week and a half, there’s a lot of events going on in New Jersey where you can grab a piece of history, too.

“When I started working here I tried not to exaggerate the impact of our story, but I don’t think you can. The impact is huge. We are desperately in need of a victory for that intangible morale, and most importantly for recruitment to encourage men to join a winning army, not a losing army,” said Clay Craighead, an historian at Washington Crossing State Park.

Middle school kids studying boat making made the boats that would have been used. But, the one thing about celebrating George Washington’s Christmas crossing — is that they can try it again next year.