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Frequently Asked Questions

embarking

Where did Washington actually cross the Delaware?

The historic designations given for the river crossing encompass the area between the McKonkey Ferry Inn and Malta Island. The Inn stands today and is preserved and interpreted by the Park. Malta Island's location is not agreed upon by historians, but would be somewhat north of the Inn.

Are the houses real? Were they moved from other locations?

All our buildings are original to the site. Not all of them were here when Gen. Washington crossed the Delaware River, but all of them are in their original location in the Park.

What's the story of Jacko?

Jacko is the enslaved boy who kept Washington's horse and froze to death during the crossing of the Delaware. Is this true? There is no historical evidence of any truth to the story. African Americans did play a large role in the crossing of the Delaware as many Marbleheader sailors were people of color, however, we have nothing that says Jacko existed nor the record of any child freezing to death during the crossing of the Delaware.

In Leutze's painting of Washington Crossing the Delaware, I understand that Prince Whipple is the African American at the side of the boat and young James Monroe is holding the flag. Is this true?

In the painting, it is widely accepted that these are the characters depicted. However, in the historic fact, there is no documentation nor is it relatively feasible that James Monroe was in the boat with Washington. There is no documentation that Prince Whipple was specifically at the Crossing, however, the presence of African Americans at the Crossing is certain.

Why didn't General Washington just cross the bridge?

The bridge wasn't there at the time. The history of the bridge does date back a bit, it wasn't here when General Washington crossed. The Taylorsville-Titusville bridge was originally built in the 1830's.

Who owns the original painting of Washington Crossing the Delaware?

The painting by Emmanuel Leutze is owned by the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York and it is one of their most visited paintings. It hangs in the American Wing. Many years ago the Park had borrowed it, however, the Park never owned this work. A different, modern oil-painted copy of the work did hang in the Park in more recent years and that painting now hangs in the State Museum in Trenton, New Jersey. A digital image taken from the original painting can be seen at the Park today.

According to family tradition, my relative crossed the Delaware River with General Washington. Do you have information on him for me?

Unfortunately, there is no definitive list of people who crossed the Delaware River. Though we are aware of named officers and diarists, most folks have been lost to obscurity. We suggest you visit the David Library of the American Revolution, 1 mile from the site, to research pension records and discuss leads on finding out information about your ancestor there. Washington Crossing Historic Park is not equipped to function as a research/genealogical library.

I heard there was pirate's gold buried in Bowman's Hill. Is this true?

There are wonderful rumors and legends regarding Bowman's Hill. Though few of them appear to be true, it IS an area that is rich in natural beauty.

We saw a wonderful demonstrator in your Park and would love to be in contact with them regarding speaking to our local organization, can you give us their phone number?

In order to respect the privacy of our volunteers, we will not give out personal phone numbers, however we will happily pass a message along to them for you. If you saw someone who demonstrates a historic craft for a living and has a personal business, we will gladly direct you to their business.

Wasn't the Thompson-Neely House used by Lord Stirling as his headquarters?

For many years the site interpreted the Thompson-Neely House as Lord Stirling's headquarters and also referred to it as the "House of Decision" where the plans for the Crossing were developed. In recent year and through continued scholarship, no research supports this supposition. Most likely, Lord Stirling stayed at Beumont's Ferry...a nearby location. Washington and his council of war was noted to have met at homes in Newtown during the planning stages of the crossing and not at the Thompson-Neely House.

Were the Hessians in Trenton drunk?

There is no documentation that supports the Hessian being drunk and celebrating Christmas with drinking and frolic. Most accounts state the Hessians, a crack fighting unit, slept with their rifles and were constantly alert and on guard. The weather on December 26th, not alcohol, made them drop their guard.

How close to the truth is the A&E movie of The Crossing starring Jeff Daniels as Washington?

Regarding the difficulties of the Crossing, the spirit of the event and the accessibility of the experience for viewers, we certainly applaud the movie's efforts. However, anytime movies are made of historic events, interpretation and artistic license are involved. This movie was based on a book by Howard Fast entitled, "The Crossing." Some of the information is not supported or confirmed by modern research. The role of Alexander Hamilton is definitely disputable in the movie and does not match up with accepted fact. Some of the other character interpretations are also suspect. The movie was not filmed on site nor did it use the site's Durham boats.

Was this event the same winter as Valley Forge?

No, though it is interesting that two notable winter events occurred in Pennsylvania, the events themselves are unrelated in timing or sequence of events. The Crossing was in December of 1776. The winter at Valley Forge is after the Philadelphia Campaign of 1777. The winter at Valley Forge and the winter of the Crossing hold similar problems for the army: supplies are often low, troops are cold and without proper clothing, and the army despaired. Likewise, each winter ended in triumph with the moral and physical victories of the Trenton campaign and the disciplinary and trained army that emerged from the Valley Forge experience. Each played a pivotal role in the army's future success.

How many boats were used in crossing the Delaware and how many troops fit in a boat?

Your guess is as good as ours! We have found no specific notations on an accepted number of boats used and as the Durham boats were various sizes, we can only surmise as to how many people fit in a boat. For the Christmas reenactment, the site can fit about 35 people in a 40 foot Durham boat. The Crossing of the Delaware required several boats to take several trips back and forth until everyone and everything was across the River. Washington ordered that all river craft within a 75 mile area of Trenton be gathered for the endeavor and specifically mentioned the gathering of the Durham boats. Durham boats, ferries and any usable river craft was certainly employed in the maneuver. A number of boats used is quoted in Stryker's Battle of Trenton and Princeton, however, the man quoted is a bit suspect and Stryker presents the quote as such.

Has anyone documented women who crossed with Washington's army?

There are no known women who crossed with the army. Certainly, numerous women — notable and anonymous — played a large role in the American Revolution. However, when troops were sent on this mission, the baggage — with it the women, children and hired laborers — from what can be surmised, was sent to Newtown, PA. Women disguised as troops have a long history with military service, however, at this time, no known cases of women disguised as men were a part of the historic Crossing story.

I heard that no one could have fired a shot during the Battle of Trenton as all the powder was wet for the muskets. Is this true?

Black powder weapons are certainly subject to disaster if the powder does indeed become wet. There was certainly a horrible storm during the Crossing of the Delaware and subsequent military operations. However, was this the case at the time of the Battle of Trenton? Many sources, both Hessian and American, state that this was most certainly a concern. However, with the casualties that occurred and the firepower present, we certainly know that some of the soldiers were able to make their weapons fire. Therefore, not everyone's powder was ruined for the battle.

Some folks refer to the first battle of the Trenton and the second battle of Trenton, were there really two?

Yes! The first battle of Trenton is the one closely associate with the Crossing of the Delaware River. It occurred on December 26, 1776 immediately after the Crossing. A few days later, the troops crossed into New Jersey again and marched to Trenton. This second battle of Trenton, also know as the Battle of the Assunpink Creek occurred on January 2, 1777 and was the precursor to the Battle of Princeton on January 3, 1777.

Was Bowman's Hill used as a look-out spot for spying on the enemy during the Revolution?

Bowman's Hill is a good elevation for viewing the surrounding area. But, no letters or orders have been located that state that troops were stationed there to spy on the Hessians in Trenton or any of the enemy troops at any other time.

What's the story of the spy named John Honeyman?

The spy named John Honeyman has received much attention in recent years. It is said that he secretly (without the Hessian's knowledge) spied on them in Trenton. Suspected of being a British sympathizer, he allowed himself to be captured by the colonial troops and escorted to Gen. Washington for questioning. All the while, he worked for Gen. Washington and informed Washington of the Hessian movements and troop strength. He was then mysteriously allowed to escape his capture by Washington. Though a great story, there is really no evidence that supports this story, but rather much speculation and oral history of the family. Washington did utilize a vast spy network. He and the British sought information at every turn, but as to Honeyman's story, there is nothing concrete that supports the legend.

I remember climbing the winding staircase to the top of Bowman's Hill Tower. Are you still able to do that?

For the convenience and safety of our visitors, an elevator was installed into the center of the Tower. The stairs are only used in extreme emergency situations and are not accessible to the general public. There are a few steps at the top of the Tower which visitors still climb. These stone stairs are reminiscent of the entire flight up the Tower stairs.

Can I get my National Park Passport Book stamped at your site? Will my Golden Access Passport Book allow me free access to your site?

Washington Crossing Historic Park is not part of the National Park Service, but rather a State Historic Site owned and operated by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania under the direction of the Pennsylvania Historic and Museum Commission. We do not have a National Park Passport stamp nor are we able to accept the Golden Access Passport as payment to our site.