American Military Victory at Trenton is Inspiration For Us Today


by Bob Johnson


Today we are up against what often seems like overwhelming forces of destruction. The original American Republic that was grounded in ideals such as freedom and liberty seems to have been killed and replaced with a conglomerate of special interests that are based on greed and selfishness. Fundamental American ideals and freedoms such as free speech have plummeted in importance and are replaced with career advancement and material wealth. Recently students at Yale University were asked to sign a petition to repeal the First Amendment to the US Constitution. The First Amendment states:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

The majority of Yale students who were asked to sign the petition calling for the repeal of these vitally important rights DID SIGN IT! 

The crazy dark days which we currently live in (days which make many people who value important principles over mere selfishness and greed to often feel hopeless) can be ended and replaced with a society that does value important and purposeful ideals and principles once again. The important thing is that we never allow ourselves to feel hopeless. A great source of inspiration that can help us to realize that if we never give up we can change and improve our lives and society as a whole is what happened on December 25-26, 1776.

Too often when people think about the American Revolution, they believe the rebels got together and decided to break free of the ruling government, they then had some battles and then won their freedom. This is very far from the truth.

By December of 1776, just five months after the signing and publishing of the Declaration of Independence, the American rebel army had been chased out of New York and New Jersey and were forced across the Delaware River into Pennsylvania. They were virtually out of resources. The Deist General George Washington was continually petitioning Congress for more money to keep the army alive. He was very rarely successful. He and his army were low on ammunition, guns, food and all supplies. Due to losses on the battlefield, the rebel army shrunk from around 20,000 officers and men to approximately a total of 5,400 by December of 1776. The losses included not only troops who were killed in action and those who were captured, but also those afflicted with disease, those wounded too severely to fight as well as thousands of men who deserted the cause. Add to these overwhelming obstacles those of backstabbing against Washington by some of his fellow rebel officers and it’s truly amazing the American Revolution was eventually a success.

The vast majority of the 5,400 soldiers who remained loyal to the struggle for freedom had their enlistments expiring on December 31, 1776. This meant that on that date, if enough men did not reenlist, the rebel army would cease to exist and the American Revolution would end in defeat. George Washington knew he had to DO something to prevent that catastrophe. He decided his decimated army would attack the well equipped, well fed and experienced government forces at Trenton, New Jersey. He thought the best time for this audacious attack would be before sunrise on the day after Christmas, as this would probably and hopefully catch the Hessian troops at Trenton off-guard. (The Hessians were German mercenary troops who fought for the legally established government of the colonies, England.)

General Washington planned to cross the treacherous and dangerous Delaware River at sunset on December 25th. He divided his army into two groups, one made up of 2,400 soldiers which he directly commanded and the other group made up of about 3,000 soldiers.

The weather was horrible. It was raining and as the temperature dropped the rain turned to sleet and then to snow. The bad weather conditions slowed the crossing which was not completed until around 4:00 in the morning of the 26th. Washington strongly believed in doing the very best you can with what you have. The group of 3,000 soldiers did not make it across in time and officers of those men who did make it across told Washington that the gun powder many of their men had became wet due to the rain and snow. Washington told them to use their bayonets. In spite of having a much smaller force than was planned on, in spite of the wet gun powder of many of the troops and in spite of not being able to have a predawn attack, George Washington and his men initiated and carried through their attack and won a surprising and amazing victory which many parts of the world are still benefiting from today!

George Washington’s example of never quitting regardless of how terrible things are, is a rock solid example for all of us today. There is a very real quality of victory in the simple act of refusing to quit.

A great movie about this vitally important event is The Crossing. As an active Deist who works to educate as many people as possible about Deism (Deism is belief in God based on the application of our reason on the laws and designs in Nature – Deists believe the designs make clear there is a Designer) through the World Union of Deists, I and other active Deists are up against opponents with virtually endless resources, (for example in 2007 “revealed” religions spent $1.3 BILLION on direct mail advertising and $161.6 million on Internet advertising). This fact can tend to be very discouraging. However, focusing on the very real and inspiring mind-set, actions and example of Washington and his men, which are inspiringly depicted in The Crossing, always picks me and other Deists up and helps us to keep going and to never quit.


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Bob Johnson is a freelance writer in the Tampa area of Florida. He was raised Roman Catholic, but after a stint in Marine Corps infantry and reading Thomas Paine's The Age of Reason he became a Deist. In 1993 he founded the World Union of Deists, and in 1996 he launched the first website devoted to Deism. He is the author of God Gave Us Reason, Not Religion, Deism: A Revolution in Religion, A Revolution in You and An Answer to C.S. Lewis' Mere Christianity. He has also written the introduction to Thomas Paine's The Age of Reason, The Complete Edition and Principles of Nature by Elihu Palmer.