The crossing of the river began at 5pm on the 25th with temperatures in the upper 20s. As the 2,400 soldiers, 18 cannons, and 75-100 horses crossed the Delaware about 9 miles north of Trenton, they had to deal with the icy river conditions. During the crossing, one of the soldiers described the weather conditions as a “violent storm of rain, hail, and snow [the nor’easter] coupled with the ice flows and high winds, slowed operations.” Meanwhile, George Washington patiently watched his soldiers implementing his dramatic plan in these extreme conditions. One of his officers wrote, “He [Washington] stands on the bank of the stream, wrapped in his cloak, superintending the landing of his troops. He is calm and collected, but very determined. The storm is changing to sleet and cuts like a knife.”
All the men finished crossing the river at 3AM on the 26th, 3 hours behind schedule due to the weather and sheets of ice on the river. The plans to attack under cover of darkness were ruined, but Washington and his men marched to Trenton anyway, many without shoes and undeterred by the conditions.
Temperatures were now in the low 20s with wind driven snow and sleet coming down as the march continued to Trenton. Many soldiers were suffering and one even froze to death during the 9 mile trek. At 8AMon the 26th of December, hidden by heavy snow, the surprise attack on the Hessians began. Although the sleet and snow provided cover, it also made many of the muskets misfire, so cannons and bayonets were used by Washington’s forces. Washington’s plan had worked and the American army captured 900 Hessians with only a few revolutionary troop casualties. Trenton had been taken and the fight for Independence would survive.