This letter, signed by George Washington, was the order to secure
the boats for the Christmas crossing. It reads as follows
(New) Brunswick December.1: 1776
You are to proceed to the two ferry's near Trentown and to see all the boats there put in the best order with a sufficiency of oars and poles and at the same time to collect all the additional boats you (can) from both above and below and have them brought to those ferry's and secured for the purpose of carrying over the troops and baggage in most expeditious manner: & for this purpose you will get every assistance in the power of quarter master general & any person in this department. You will particularly attend to the Durham boats which are very proper for this purpose. The baggage & stores of the army should be got over the river as soon as possible and placed at some convenient place a little back from it.
I am Sir, your Most Obt. Servt.
Transcribed and annotated by Harry K. Swan, Swan Historical Foundation
Washington's Crossing State Park, Titusville, NJ
April 10, 1983
What is unique about this document, and significant to the members of the 11th Pennsylvania Regiment, is that the recipient of this letter, Colonel Richard Humpton, was given command of the 11th Pennsylvania Regiment in October of 1776. As you will recall from the top of our UNIT HISTORY page, it noted that "Some elements of the 11th Pennsylvania saw action in the Battle of Princeton, January 3, 1777." If our regimental commander was in charge of securing the boats, it would make sense that he, and therefore his unit (us), would have also crossed and have participated in the Battle of Trenton, as well as Princeton. The only reason we cannot assume this is that there were three groups crossings that night, with the other two, under the command of General's Cadwalader and Ewing, not attempting the crossing because of deteriorating weather conditions.
We are continuing our own research to see if any more light can be shed on exactly what participation the 11th Pennsylvania Regiment provided during the Battles of Trenton and Princeton.
Learn more about what is available at the
WASHINGTON CROSSING STATE PARK (NEW JERSEY SIDE)
and the SWAN HISTORICAL FOUNDATION
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