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George Washington arrives at the banks of the Delaware

George Washington arrives at the banks of the Delaware

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In a letter dated December 3, 1776, General George Washington writes to Congress from his headquarters in Trenton, New Jersey, to report that he had transported much of the Continental Army’s stores and baggage across the Delaware River to Pennsylvania. His famous crossing of the Delaware would come less than one month later.

In his letter, Washington wrote, "Immediately on my arrival here, I ordered the removal of all the military and other stores and baggage over the Delaware, a great quantity are already got over, and as soon as the boats come up from Philadelphia, we shall load them, by which means I hope to have every thing secured this night and tomorrow if we are not disturbed."

Washington then made the critical strategic move of confiscating and burning all the boats along the Delaware to prevent British troops from pursuing his beleaguered forces across the river. The British strategy of chasing Washington across New Jersey, rather than capturing his entire army in Manhattan, seemed to be a stroke of genius. As New Jersey was devastated at the hands of British forces and Washington’s men cowered in Pennsylvania, even staunch Patriots, including Thomas Jefferson, considered surrender to the crown.

Also on this day, General Washington received a letter dated November 30 from his second-in-command, General Charles Lee, reporting that he was about to cross into New York near Peekskill on this day in 1776. In an apt reflection of the state of the American fortunes, the British captured General Lee nine days later in New Jersey. Richard Stockton, a leading New Jersey patriot and signer of the Declaration of Independence, was also in British custody and was forced to swear an oath of allegiance to the British king along with thousands of his New Jersey neighbors.

CHECK OUT: George Washington: An Interactive Map of His Key Military Battles

Delaware History Timeline

Delaware was inhabited nearly 10,000 years ago, and a succession of various cultures occupied the area until the first European contact. At that time, the Leni-Lenape (Delaware) Indians occupied northern Delaware, while several tribes, including the Nanticoke and Assateague, inhabited southern Delaware.

The Lenape, culturally organized bands of Native Americans, settle along the Delaware River circa 1400. In 1600, the Minquas (named after the Lenape word for "treacherous") from the Susquehanna River Valley attack their villages. Two groups of Native Americans are present in the Delaware region by the turn of the 16th century: the Lenape and the Nanticoke.

The first of the original 13 states to ratify the federal Constitution, Delaware occupies a small niche in the Boston-Washington, D.C., urban corridor along the Middle Atlantic seaboard. It is the second smallest state in the country and one of the most densely populated.

15th Century Delaware History Timeline

1400 - The Lenni Lenape, Native Americans of the Algonkians, settle along the Delaware.

17th Century Delaware History Timeline

1600 - Minquas, from the Susquehanna River Valley, began to attack the villages of the Lenni Lenape.

1609 - Henry Hudson, an Englishman sailing for the Dutch East India Company, discovers Delaware Bay and River.

1610 - Captain Samuel Argall, an English sea captain, names the bay and river after Lord De La Warr, the governor of Virginia.

1631 - Dutch colonists settle at Zwaanendael (site of present-day Lewes).

1632 - Settlement at Zwaanendael is destroyed and all colonists killed in dispute with Native Americans.

1638 - Peter Minuet leads a group of Swedes to the Delaware and establishes Fort Christina (now Wilmington), the first permanent settlement on the Delaware and the beginnings of the New Sweden Colony.

1639 - The first African on the Delaware, Black Anthony, is brought from the Caribbean to Fort Christina.

1640 - The first Lutheran minister in America, the Reverend Reorus Torkillus, arrives at Fort Christina.

1643 - Johan Printz becomes governor of the New Sweden Colony.

1651 - Peter Stuyvesant, Dutch governor of New Netherland, builds Fort Casimir (now New Castle) just a few miles south of Fort Christina on the Delaware.

1654 - The Swedes capture Fort Casimir and rename it Fort Trinity.

1659 - Lewes is founded.

1655 - The Dutch defeat the Swedes on the Delaware, ending the New Sweden Colony. Delaware becomes a part of New Netherland.

1664 - Expedition led by Colonel Sir Richard Nicolls, one of four Commissioners appointed by the Crown to carry out military acquisition of the Dutch territories in America. Nicolls selected Sir Robert Carr to subdue the Dutch on the South (Delaware) River. Sir Robert Carr drives the Dutch off the Delaware and claims the land for James, Duke of York. Delaware becomes an English colony.

1673 - The Dutch regain control of the Delaware.

1674 - The English regain the Delaware

1681 - William Penn was granted land from England, that included Delaware, and established the colony of Pennsylvania.

1682 - The Duke of York transfers control of the Delaware Colony to English Quaker William Penn.

1698 - Holy Trinity, Old Swedes Church, is built in Wilmington.

1698-1700 - Pirates including Captain Kidd sail along the Delaware.

18th Century Delaware History Timeline

1704 - Delaware's first assembly of the Three Lower Counties Upon Delaware, separate from Pennsylvania, meets at New Castle.

1717 - Town of Dover laid out.

1731 - Thomas Willing founds Willingtown.

1739 - Willingtown receives royal charter and is renamed Wilmington.

1742 - Oliver Canby builds flour mill on Brandywine River at Wilmington, beginning large commercial flour milling industry.

1760 - 35,000 people lived in the Delaware region.

1761 - James Adams sets up first printing press in Delaware at Wilmington.

1763 - The French and Indian War ends in 1763 and Great Britain gains controls of all lands previously held by France. England pays for the war by increasing taxes on its American Colonies. Restrictions on the colonists eventually lead to a fight for independence from the crown.

1764 - Charles Mason and Jeremiah Dixon survey Delaware's western boundary.

1765 - Caesar Rodney and Thomas McKean represent Delaware at the Stamp Act Congress.

1767-68 - John Dickinson writes Letters from a Farmer in Pennsylvania, an influential protest against British policies towards the colonies.

1774 - Caesar Rodney, Thomas McKean, and George Read represent Delaware at the First Continental Congress.

1775 - Revolutionary War began

  • June 15 - Delaware Assembly declares independence from England. This is the origin of the holiday called Separation Day.
  • July 1-2 -Caesar Rodney makes heroic overnight ride from Dover to Philadelphia to cast the vote that put Delaware on the side of independence.
  • Three Lower Counties had broken away from Pennsylvania They adopted a constitution and became the Delaware State, the first of all the colonies to call themselves a state.
  • Dover replaces New Castle as state capital.
  • Late August-early September: British and American armies are in northern New Castle County.
  • September 3: Battle of Cooch's Bridge near Newark, only engagement of the war in Delaware.
  • September 12-British capture Delaware state documents, funds, and President John McKinly after winning the Battle of the Brandywine, then occupy Wilmington until mid October.

1779 - Delaware Assembly ratifies Articles of Confederation.

1784 - Thomas Coke and Francis Asbury meet at Barratt's Chapel in Frederica, establishing the Methodist Church as a separate denomination in the US

1785 - Oliver Evans builds prototype automatic flour mill in Newport.
Delaware Gazette, state's first newspaper, begins publication.

1786 - Delaware is one of 5 states to send delegates to Annapolis Convention, which hoped to revise the Articles of Confederation.

1787 - Dec. 7 - Delaware ratified the United States Constitution and became the 1st state in the Union.

1788-89 - Abolition societies established in Dover and Wilmington.

1791 - The county seat of Sussex County is moved from Lewes to Georgetown.

1792 - Delaware adopts second state constitution and changed its name to the State of Delaware.

1795 - Bank of Delaware, the state's first bank, founded in Wilmington.

  • British ship DeBraak sinks off Lewes.
  • Yellow fever epidemic spreads from Philadelphia to Wilmington.

19th Century Delaware History Timeline

1802 - Frenchman eleuthere Irenee du Pont founded a gunpowder mill near Wilmington.
duPont de Nemours begins manufacturing gunpowder along the Brandywine River near Wilmington.

1805 - First Methodist camp meeting held near Smyrna.

1807 - Caesar A. Rodney named Attorney General of the United States by President Thomas Jefferson.

1808 - Newport and Gap Turnpike becomes first toll road in Delaware.

1812-13 - Peter Spencer founds the African Union Methodist Protestant Church. AUMP is the first denomination in the nation controlled entirely by African-Americans.

  • The British bombard Lewes during War of 1812.
  • Dr. James Tilton appointed Surgeon General of the US Army.
  • Commodore Thomas Macdonough defeats British on Lake Champlain.
  • James A. Bayard is one of American signers of the Treaty of Ghent, ending War of 1812.
  • Big Quarterly, or August Quarterly, started by Peter Spencer, founder of African Union Methodist Protestant Church, in Wilmington. America's first major black religious festival continues in the 21st century.

1818 - Construction begins on the mile-long Delaware Breakwater, completed in 1835.

1828 - Steamboat line opens between Philadelphia and New Castle.

  • Chesapeake and Delaware Canal opens.
  • Delaware Free School Act passes in legislature creating first public schools in the state.
  • Louis McLane appointed Secretary of the Treasury of the United States.
  • New Castle and Frenchtown Railroad opens. Covering one and a half miles at first, it used horse cars for nearly a year before switching over to steam service in 1832.
  • Delaware adopts third constitution.
  • First peach orchard planted in Delaware. State soon becomes major commercial producer of peaches.
  • The University of Delaware is founded as Newark College.
  • Louis McLane appointed Secretary of State of the United States.

1838 - Philadelphia, Wilmington and Baltimore Railroad opens.

1844 - The Bangor, America's first iron-hulled propeller steamship, launched in Wilmington.

1847 - Delaware Senate considers an act to abolish slavery. The act is defeated by one vote.

1849 - John M. Clayton appointed Secretary of State of the United States.

1852 - Delaware Railroad Company organized.

1855 - State-wide prohibition law enacted repealed, 1857.

1856 - Delaware Railroad completed to Seaford to Delmar in 1859.

  • Although a slaveholding state, Delaware rejects invitation to join Confederacy.
  • Peace convention at Dover favors peaceable recognition of Confederacy.
  • Troops from Philadelphia garrison Fort Delaware, which becomes prison camp.

1862 - Delaware legislature rejects President Lincoln's offer to buy its slaves.

1861-65 - Delaware remained in the Union during the Civil War (1861-1865). More than 12,000 Delawareans fought for the North and a few hundred fought for the South. At the end of the war, all slaves were freed.

1865 - Thirteenth Amendment to the US Constitution abolishes slavery. The Delaware legislature votes against the amendment.

1867 - Howard High School, Delaware's first high school for African-Americans, established.

1868 - The 14th Amendment of the US Constitution guarantees equal protection for all races under the law. The Delaware legislature votes against the amendment.

1869 - First woman suffrage convention in Delaware

  • First ocean resort opens at Rehoboth Beach.
  • The Fifteenth Amendment guarantees blacks the right to vote. The Delaware legislature votes against the amendment.
  • Wilmington's African American community honors Thomas Garrett for his work as a stationmaster on the Underground Railroad.

1872 - Coeducation introduced at Delaware College, discontinued in 1885.

1875 -State legislature creates separate schools with separate funding for white children and African American children.

1876 - Indian River Lifesaving Station is built, the nation's oldest station still on its original site.

1878 - First telephone line installed in Wilmington.

  • Dynamite and nitroglycerine manufactured by DuPont Company.
  • Rehoboth Beach holds what some claim is the first beauty contest in the nation.
  • County seat of New Castle County moves from New Castle to Wilmington.
  • First organized Jewish religious service in Delaware.

1882 - First electric street lights installed in Wilmington.

1883-86 - Baltimore and Ohio Railroad extends through Delaware.

1885 - Thomas F. Bayard appointed Secretary of State of the United States.

1887 - Volunteer, a steel-hulled racing yacht, built in Wilmington, defeats Thistle to win America's Cup.

1888 - Electric street cars begin to replace horse cars in Wilmington.

1889 - Law passes prohibiting punishment of women at whipping post or pillory.

  • State College for Colored Students (now Delaware State University) chartered opened in 1892.
  • Delmar nearly destroyed by fire.
  • Thomas F. Bayard appointed first United States Ambassador to Great Britain.
  • Delaware receives "The Wedge," a small piece of land, in boundary dispute with Maryland.
  • New state constitution adopted still in effect today.
  • Property qualifications for voter registration abolished.

1899 - The Delaware Corporation Law is passed. In time this law will make it easier for businesses to incorporate in Delaware than in other states.

20th Century Delaware History Timeline

  • Illustrator Howard Pyle opens his art school in Wilmington.
  • Frank Stephens purchases 163 acres near Grubbs Corner to found single tax community of Arden.

1901 - Legislature ratifies 13 th , 14 th , and 15 th Amendments to the United States Constitution.

1905 - Delaware becomes last state to abolish use of the pillory.

  • First automobile licensed in state.
  • Delawarean Emily Bissell introduces Christmas Seal into America.
  • State House restored and enlarged.
  • Ownership of Chesapeake and Delaware Canal transferred to federal government.

1911-24 - T. Coleman du Pont builds a highway running the length of the state and gives to State of Delaware.

1911 - Upton Sinclair and Scott Nearing, along with others, arrested at Arden for playing games on Sunday.

  • Women's College founded at Newark.
  • Hotel Du Pont and Playhouse open.
  • Wilson Line ferry begins ferry service between Wilmington and Pennsville, N.J.

1914 - Women's College opens in Newark.

1917-18 - Nearly 10,000 Delawareans serve in World War I.

1920 - Woman suffrage amendment narrowly fails adoption in legislature.

1921 - Construction begins on Wilmington Marine Terminal, completed 1923.

1923 - Cecile Steele begins Delaware's broiler chicken industry.

1926 - Cape Henlopen Lighthouse collapses.

1929 - Louis L. Redding becomes first African-American lawyer in state.

1934 - United States Supreme Court confirms Delaware's claim to control Delaware River.

  • US Supreme Court rules that twelve mile arc that defines the Pennsylvania-Delaware line should be extended into the Delaware River, giving Delaware a few uninhabited acres attached to New Jersey.
  • Dr. Wallace Carothers, working at the DuPont Experimental Station, discovers Fiber 66, the first synthetic fiber.

1938 - Tercentenary Celebration of landing of Swedes in Wilmington.

1939 - DuPont Company opens first nylon plant in Seaford and nylon stockings exhibits at World Fairs in San Francisco and New York.

1941-45 - 30,000 Delaware men and women serve in armed forces in World War II.

1942 - Fort Miles created between Lewes and Rehoboth Beach.
Major air bases created at New Castle and Dover.

1945 - Women's College merges with University of Delaware.

1949 - First annual Delmarva Chicken Festival held.

1950 - Delaware Court of Chancery orders University of Delaware to end segregation.

1951 - Delaware Memorial Bridge opens first span linking Delaware to New Jersey.

  • Chancellor Collins J. Seitz deemed Delaware's segregated schools to be separate and unequal, a position upheld by the US Supreme Court in Brown v. Board of Education.
  • Last public whipping this form of punishment was abolished in Delaware in 1972.
  • Delaware General Assembly outlaws racial segregation in public accommodations.
  • President John F. Kennedy opens Delaware Turnpike (Interstate 95 now John F. Kennedy Memorial Highway) completing a non-stop highway between Boston and Washington D.C. This was one of Kennedy's last public appearances.

1964 - Cape May- Lewes Ferry begins operation.

  • Riots break out in Wilmington following assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr., prompting 10-month occupation of city by National Guard, the longest occupation in the country.
  • Second span of the Delaware Memorial Bridge dedicated.

1969 - Richard Petty wins the first NASCAR-sanctioned race at Dover Downs.

1971 - The Delaware Coastal Zone Act prohibits construction of industrial plants on coastal areas.

1975 - William "Judy" Johnson, a former Negro League baseball player, becomes state's first player elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame.

1978 - Daniel Nathans wins the Nobel Prize in Medicine for his work with molecular hormones.

1981 - The Financial Center Development Act passes, encouraging out-of-state banks to move headquarters to Delaware.

1984 - S.B. Woo elected lieutenant governor, becoming the highest-ranking Asian-American official in the United States.

  • Legislature approves use of slot machines at Dover Downs, Harrington, and Delaware Park.
  • Route 1 bridge over the Chesapeake and Delaware Canal opens.

1999 - Jacqueline Jones, a native of Christiana, wins prestigious MacArthur Genius Award.

Washington arrives at the banks of the Delaware - Dec 03, 1776 - HISTORY.com

TSgt Joe C.

In a letter dated December 3, 1776, General George Washington writes to Congress from his headquarters in Trenton, New Jersey, to report that he had transported much of the Continental Army’s stores and baggage across the Delaware River to Pennsylvania.

In his letter Washington wrote, Immediately on my arrival here, I ordered the removal of all the military and other stores and baggage over the Delaware, a great quantity are already got over, and as soon as the boats come up from Philadelphia, we shall load them, by which means I hope to have every thing secured this night and tomorrow if we are not disturbed.

Washington then made the critical strategic move of confiscating and burning all the boats along the Delaware to prevent British troops from pursuing his beleaguered forces across the river. The British strategy of chasing Washington across New Jersey, rather than capturing his entire army in Manhattan, seemed to be a stroke of genius. As New Jersey was devastated at the hands of British forces and Washington’s men cowered in Pennsylvania, even staunch Patriots, including Thomas Jefferson, considered surrender to the crown.

Also on this day, General Washington received a letter dated November 30 from his second-in-command, General Charles Lee, reporting that he was about to cross into New York near Peekskill on this day in 1776. In an apt reflection of the state of the American fortunes, the British captured General Lee nine days later in New Jersey. Richard Stockton, a leading New Jersey patriot and signer of the Declaration of Independence, was also in British custody and was forced to swear an oath of allegiance to the British king along with thousands of his New Jersey neighbors.


Before 1631

Native Americans planted corn, beans and squash

The first Dutch settlers arrive.

Did You Know?

Farming was critical to the survival of Delaware's early European settlers, who cultivated crops such as wheat, barley, Indian corn, and peas, while raising livestock such as pigs, sheep, goats, and cattle for meat and milk.

The first Swedish settlers arrive.

Did You Know?

Under Dutch rule until 1663, Delaware had 110 plantations which tended 2,000 cows and oxen, thousands of pigs, and horses and sheep.

Did You Know?

Swedish settlers who arrived in 1638 depended on agriculture for sustenance.

The first English settlers arrive.

Did You Know?

The advent of English control in 1664 under William Penn’s Pennsylvania colony produced the political and economic stability that enabled Delaware agriculture to prosper.

The "Three Lower Counties" of Pennsylvania were granted their own legislative assembly.

Did You Know?

With Philadelphia as its major trade center, Delaware produced profitable exports such as tobacco, which was commonly used in the 1700s to settle debts and obligations.

Did You Know?

Soft red wheat became the state's first important cash crop thanks to innovative flour mills designed by Newport's Oliver Evans, bringing fame and prosperity to the new state of Delaware. Born in Newport in 1755, Evans would revolutionize the flour milling industry. The process of milling had not changed for centuries until Evans made major improvements in a mill on Red Clay Creek in northern Delaware.


During this time period, several Quaker families (the Tatnalls, Canbys, Shipleys, Leas, Mortons, and Pooles) had founded Delaware's grain milling industry on the Brandywine River, creating demand for grain shipped by farms up the Delaware River or hauled overland by Conestoga wagon.

As tobacco declined in significance by 1770, other grain crops such as wheat, corn, barley, oats, and rye gained in importance as Delaware's agricultural trade steadily expanded through the latter part of the century.

Did You Know?

Beef cattle in the 1700s were raised in marshes and woods, taking four years to reach the age for slaughter as opposed to ten months today.

1790, Oliver Evans was granted one of the very first United States patents, signed by President George Washington and Thomas Jefferson.

The backstory on odd Delaware place names

Here is a statewide sampler of odd Delaware place names, from our archives.

Other favorites include Angola, Bacons, Black Cat, Blades, Brick Store, Cowgills Corner, Fix's Corner, Gully Camp, Gumboro, Hardscrabble, Houston, Iron Hill, Jimtown, Mermaid, Mount Cuba, Murderkill River, Omar, Pepper, Pike Creek, Rabbits Ferry, Retreat, Shaft Ox Corner, Shortly, Slaughter Beach, Ralphs, Taylors Gut Landing and Woodenhawk.

This historic travelers' stop, now known for the contemporary Buckley's Tavern and boutique shops, served as the town center for Christiana Hundred and marks the seven-mile "center" – or halfway – point between Kennett Square, Pa., and Wilmington. Some locals say the name comes from Delaware's Quaker heritage, specifically Centre Friends – a meetinghouse built centrally in 1796 between others in Kennett Square and Brandywine Hundred. Colloquial use changed the spelling to "Centerville," but residents fixed that in 1974, getting New Castle County Council to restore the "re" spelling officially. To residents' dismay, Centreville gets mistaken as part of nearby Greenville, named not for lush local foliage but for the Green family, which had a lumber yard at the local train station.

Corner Ketch, northwest of Newark, is known for its laid-back living and bucolic setting. But the name is said to have come from a local tavern with a reputation for attracting regular customers who were so tough, strangers were warned: "They'll ketch ye at the corner."

Like Talleyville, Ogletown got its name from a once-prominent family. Thomas Ogle, who farmed about 1,500 acres in the area, ultimately became one of the last visible remnants of the one-time rural village – nibbled away for road expansions and dominated by MBNA Bank. His grave sits on one corner of the crossroads, with a granite top that replaced the decayed original marble slab. It reads: "Here lies the Body of Thomas Ogle who departed this Life the 23rd day of December 1771 Aged 66 years. Glass is run, Work is done / Deed I lie under Ground / Entombed in Clay until the Day / I hear the trumpet sound."

Glasgow, a sprawl around U.S. 40 and Del. 896, grew as a community of hospitality for travelers. Known during the American Revolution as Aikentown (for local tavern owner Matthew Aiken), Glasgow was named by Scottish settlers for Glasgow, Scotland. The Glasgow Arms, a once-stately restaurant sometimes called the area's one true namesake landmark, was bulldozed in 1997 to make way for an Arby's. The loss upset locals and continues to fuel ongoing efforts to preserve the area's remaining historic buildings.

The Colonial port village of Christiana is among scores of Delaware places and things named for Swedish Queen Christina, whose father was Gustavus Adolphus, Sweden's great soldier-king. The Swedes and Finns who founded Delaware's first permanent European settlement at modern-day Wilmington in 1638 used the young queen's name freely, but it was later Anglicized to "Christiana." Most of the Anglicized names were returned to "Christina" before a royal visit, but the village kept the British version. First named Christiana Bridge, the village hosted George Washington and was the March 1781 landing site of the Marquis de Lafayette and 1,500 troops in what has been called a crucial boost to the Revolutionary cause. Later doomed economically when bypassed by the early railroad, the village is less well known than the nearby mall that took its name.

Many Delaware communities were named for early churches, but this is the most famous and one of few that kept "chapel" or "church" in its name. Philip Barratt built the church in 1780, and it was there that believers decided in 1784 to organize the Methodist Episcopal Church. Hence it's called "The Birthplace of Modern Methodism" and "The Cradle of Methodism in America." Believers opposed slavery (while this was a slave state) and welcomed blacks. Some became leaders in the development of free assembly and worship by African-Americans, forming some of the nation's most historic black churches.

Talleyville is one the state's many unincorporated communities named for a prominent local family. In the northern region of crops and dairies, the Talleys were a farm family that scorned pretense: They upheld a tradition of Saturday fox hunting, but without formality, following home-raised hounds on home-raised horses that also did farm chores.

This region north of Wilmington touches on two of Delaware's best name legends, the Brandywine and the "hundred." Historians say the hundred is mistakenly said to have indicated areas from which residents had to muster 100 militiamen, while the name merely was an administrative or political term from Colonial times, similar to Pennsylvania's townships. Brandywine Hundred is the most commonly used name among the state's old hundreds. However, the source of the picturesque creek's name has been lost to time, but some folks say the name came from early descriptions of the color of the creek's water as resembling a drink popular among early Dutch settlers, a mixture of wine and brandy called "brandywine."

Claymont is known as a blue-collar area from its days as a steel town, now in a renaissance and proud of its odd tradition, the Christmas Weed. The settlement was first called Naaman's Creek or Naamans, for a Lenape chief who befriended early Swedes. The community grew around Philadelphia Pike, where the landmark Claymont Stone School sits near the home of famous American illustrator Felix O.C. Darley. A recent history says the area got its name in the early 1850s from the wife of the Rev. Clemson, pastor of the Church of the Ascension, who called the area around the rectory Claymont after her family home, Claymont Court, in Charlestown, W.Va. Others say it was named for the Clayton family or for the clay content of the local soil.

No mega-rabbits here, just like no bears in Bear. Hares Corner on U.S. 13, the state's main north-south route, and east-west U.S. 40, was a prime location for its former stage stop, cattle market and a tavern run by area farmer John Haire in the 1800s. Longtime residents recall the Green Tree Inn, razed in the 1930s for the dual highway, but the New Castle County Airport and New Castle Farmers' Market still echo the former farmland's prominent role in transportation and commerce.

Bear's suburban sprawl, which consumed all but one working farm around Del. 7 and U.S. 40 from near New Castle to Glasgow, got its name from a Colonial tavern. The Bear – exact location unknown – bore a picture-sign well understood by the largely illiterate but thirsty locals. The Bear, which also attracted prominent travelers such as George Washington, closed in 1845 and was razed for the area's first railroad. But its name stuck for a rail station, followed by a post office, and it now is best-known for the state's busiest library, whose circular, cone-roofed building was designed to resemble a carousel.

Welcome to another area that got its name from a popular 18th century tavern – not that Delawareans are booze hounds, but colonists are said to have consumed about two gallons of brew as a daily dietary staple. Red Lion sits near Kirkwood, a similar hamlet named in honor of local Revolutionary War hero Robert Kirkwood, who chose the Hale-Byrnes House near Stanton for George Washington's council of war after the Battle of Cooch's Bridge, the war's only battle fought on Delaware soil. Also nearby: Wrangle Hill around Del. 72 and U.S. 13, named for a long-standing feud between two of the early families who settled here, perhaps too close to each other.

This small community for generations served as a low-key resort area. In the 1960s, its year-round population of about two dozen quadrupled in summer. The name comes from Kitts Hummock, a sandy hill where the community grew. But the hill's name is said to have a pirate's ancestry: Reportedly, it first was named "Kidd's Hammock," for 17th-century pirate Captain William Kidd. Many of Delaware's place names come from its early shipping heritage – lighthouses and landmarks for seafarers, noted captains, ships and inns. Others are named for pirates, shipwrecks and treasures washed ashore.

Little Heaven, which locals say is struggling since Del. 1 opened, was a name applied originally to a group of cabins a local farmer built in the 1870s for Irish workers in his orchards. A nearby community called Little Hell has vanished. Little Heaven is a frequent Delaware entry in lists of odd American place names. Others are Blue Ball, named for a Colonial tavern just north of Wilmington Cocked Hat, northwest of Bridgeville in Sussex County and Hourglass, named for the distinctive shape of this tract of land west of Camden in Kent County.

Here's a place name with a double derivation: Like Barratt's Chapel, Cool Spring, seven miles southwest of Lewes and eight miles east of Georgetown, was named for a house of worship. In turn, Cool Spring Presbyterian Church had gotten its inspirational and descriptive name from a convenient local water feature springs that often attracted early American tourists. Such springs also inspired Wilmington's Cool Spring neighborhood and Brandywine Springs Park on Newport Gap Pike in New Castle County. In fact, Delaware newcomers often are surprised by how common springs are, sometimes gurgling up persistently through sidewalks, roads and basement floors.

One first-time visitor to southern Delaware remarked on the many names that include "neck," asking if natives here have some innate propensity for passion. But Long Neck and other Delaware necks draw their names from their geography: a neck is a narrow strip of dry land, peninsula-like, that generally is bordered on three sides by wet or periodically wet lowlands, marsh or swamp. Those geographic features also make a good showing in Delaware place names, along with ponds, rivers, creeks, tributaries and branches – like the widespread word ending "kill," from the Dutch word for creek.

Pot Nets is an area with a namesake point, cove, community and residential resort complex along the northwest shore of Indian River Bay. This is a Delaware place name that proves it pays to know the local lingo: Lingo is a prominent family name in these parts and Pot Nets Point also is known as Lingo Point and Lingos Point. The Pot-Nets Communities (with a hyphen) are a group of six scenic residential and recreational waterfront communities. The name comes from one of the region's most succulent delicacies, which helped establish the area as a resort. Put another way for the uninitiated, potnets are what you want to put out to get you some crabs.

In time of upheaval and uncertainty, Washington's survival skills still inspire

Editor's note: The Eagleton Institute of Politics at Rutgers University recently enlisted more than 40 students, academics, social activists, former governors and journalists to compose short, personal essays reflecting on social and political upheaval of the past year of the pandemic.

Eagleton's "This I Believe" project was inspired by legendary journalist Edward R. Murrow, who launched his radio show during the Cold War, when, as Eagleton Director John Farmer points out, Americans were questioning their life choices and values under the threat of nuclear annihilation.

Here is a contribution from USA TODAY Network Columnist Charles Stile, reflecting on the enduring faith of American optimism despite upheaval and the formidable political obstacles that stand in the road to reform.

I have long believed in America’s resilience, its ability to adapt with imagination and guile in the wake of a cataclysm or when faced with seemingly insurmountable challenges.

I almost never express that kind of can-do sentiment in public. I’ve spent most of my career as a correspondent and columnist in the New Jersey Statehouse scrutinizing the grind of politics through jaundiced eyes.

Yet this I-Hear-America-Singing optimism has always been central to my world view, and it has remained steadfast despite the ravages of the pandemic and the trauma of Trump and the damage he inflicted on our democracy.

I was reminded of that deeply embedded faith last Jan. 2 during a daylong tour about Washington’s daring Delaware River crossing and his attack on the German troops in Trenton on Dec. 26, 1776. Our guide was the redoubtable Ralph Siegel, a former press row colleague, who is now a licensed battlefield guide at Gettysburg National Military Park and who is also steeped in the lore of the Trenton conflict.

At the end of the detailed swing through the hard-luck capital city that Washington once briefly captured, Ralph brought us to the banks of an undistinguished Delaware River tributary churning through Mill Hill Park not far from the Trenton train station.

It was here, 244 years ago (on that very day, in fact), where of the “Second Battle of Trenton’’ took place. Also known as the “Battle of Assunpink Creek,’’ it was the overshadowed, but crucially important, sequel to Washington’s storied victory seven days earlier.

Gen. George Washington at Trenton, by John Trumbull (Photo: Yale University Art Gallery)

The battle was chaotic and bloody, and it flipped the glory-filled narrative — the once brash conqueror on the morning after Christmas was now on the brink of a humiliating defeat the second day of the New Year. There is little to distinguish the site as hallowed ground other than some signs about the battle in a kiosk at the park's entrance.

As Ralph retold the story with the slow-build crescendo, the British sent a force of 5,000 troops into Trenton to finally crush the pesky rebellion.

After a day of furious fighting — and after the Americans repulsed the British three times on a bridge over the creek — the British commander, Lt. Charles Cornwallis, called off the assault as night approached, confident that the “old fox” Washington and his battered army were trapped on the south side of the creek.

“We’ll go over and bag him in the morning,’’ Cornwallis reportedly boasted.

The next morning, the British found that their prey had escaped under the cover of darkness.

Informed by a top scout of some uncharted country lanes heading out of town, Washington and his army literally tiptoed out of town, muffling the sound of the creaking wagons by wrapping the wheels in blankets. He kept behind a small contingent to stoke campfires and make noise with picks and axes, creating the illusion that the army was digging in for another day of fighting. Eventually, those soldiers also escaped.

Later that day, the rag-tag Continentals arrived just south of Princeton, where they stunned a reserve of British troops in a short but decisive victory. The wily fox lived to fight another day.

Washington at Battle of Trenton and Princeton (Photo: Portrait by John Trumbull)

As our chilly group of masked Jersey suburbanites tailgated near the Princeton Battle Monument at day’s end — while munching on homemade fudge and toasting our forefathers with cups of prosecco in the town hall parking lot (no oxtail soup and worm-infested biscuits for these 21st-century patriots) — it struck me that, at that perilous moment, Washington forged the qualities of guile, risk-taking and determination into the DNA of our national character on the banks of the Assunpink.

It also reinforced my confidence that we will prevail, despite the once noble Republican Party’s embrace of toxic conspiracy theories and nativism, despite the simmering tensions over race and despite the anti-science ignorance that led millions to flout mask-wearing in the face of a plague.

That faith also sustained me 10 days later when I returned to Trenton with a helmet, goggles and a gas mask, to see if domestic terrorists, inspired by the Jan. 6 ransacking of the U.S. capital, would carry out a copycat attack on the Statehouse.

The feared assault — a perversion of Washington’s brave gamble 244 years earlier — turned out to be a false alarm. Only police and reporters milled around the barricaded streets. I didn't have much to write about, which was annoying. But I was personally relieved. And buoyed.

Our new commander in chief is now tasked with a series of perilous challenges. President Joe Biden has confronted it so far with grand ambition in his first 100 days, a vision to remake our society. I suspect he will also need cunning, imagination and guile in the months ahead. This isn't a path to reform. It's a prescription for survival.

Biden has summoned the memory of FDR. But I expect he’ll also rely on the skills and savvy of Washington. I also suspect those qualities are integral to Biden’s character. They're integral to us all.

Charlie Stile is a veteran political columnist. For unlimited access to his unique insights into New Jersey’s political power structure and his powerful watchdog work, please subscribe or activate your digital account today.

Did You Know?: 'Washington Crossing the Delaware' painting

An authorized copy of "Washington Crossing the Delaware" hangs in Purdue's Class of 1950 Lecture Hall. Its installation will be celebrated during a Presidents Day event on Feb. 17. (Photo courtesy of the Washington Crossing Foundation)
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"Washington Crossing the Delaware," the famous painting at the center of a Presidents Day celebration Monday (Feb. 17) on Purdue's West Lafayette campus, has a history nearly as fascinating as the event it depicts.

The oil-on-canvas painting illustrates George Washington, then a general in the American Revolutionary War, crossing the Delaware River with his troops on the night of Dec. 25-26, 1776. The crossing immediately precipitated Washington's surprise attack on the Hessian forces in the Battle of Trenton in New Jersey.

An authorized copy of the painting arrived at Purdue in January. A Presidents Day event, scheduled for 5 p.m. in the Class of 1950 Lecture Hall, will celebrate its installation there.

Although the painting depicts a scene from the American Revolutionary War, the original was actually painted in 1851 in Germany -- 75 years after the Battle of Trenton, says David Parrish, professor of art history.

German-born artist Emanuel Gottlieb Leutze, who was born 40 years after the battle, painted "Washington Crossing the Delaware" in Düsseldorf.

Leutze grew up in America but returned to Germany as an adult. He hoped the painting, and therefore the American Revolution, would inspire liberal reformers during the European Revolutions of 1848.

Due to the time that had elapsed after the titular event, the painting contains a few historical inaccuracies, Parrish says. For instance, the flag depicted was not created until about a year after the battle, and the soldiers used a different type of boat to cross the river. Additionally, Washington appears to be much older than he was during the battle -- the general was 44 at the time -- and he wouldn't have been standing lest the boat capsize.

However, some of the painting's details, such as the soldiers' uniforms, are historically accurate. And the composition of the painting as well as some of its details, including the fact that the rowers shown represent a cross-section of the American colonies, invoke a deep sense of national pride, Parrish says.

"It's fascinating to place this painting in the artist's personal context and in the time in which he was living," Parrish says.

"He certainly wasn't working in a vacuum. In fact, he was hoping to hold the American Revolution up as a shining example of a battle for freedom. When you see the original, which is so large that the figures are almost life-size, you get a real sense of the courage and determination it inspires."

Leutze finished the first version of the painting in 1850, but a fire in his studio damaged it shortly thereafter.

After the painting was restored, the Kunsthalle Bremen art museum in Bremen, Germany, acquired the painting. However, in 1942, during World War II, a British bombing raid destroyed it.

Leutze created a full-size replica of the painting shortly after completing the original. It was placed on exhibition in New York in October 1851.

After changing ownership several times, the painting in 1897 was donated to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, where it still hangs today. The painting's popularity led to several more historical commissions for Leutze, who was primarily known for portraiture, Parrish says.

Several authorized copies of "Washington Crossing the Delaware" exist, including one that hangs in the West Wing of the White House in Washington, D.C., and the one at Purdue.

Ann Hawkes Hutton, the author and civic activist who founded the Washington Crossing Foundation, commissioned the copy that hangs at Purdue in 1969. Hutton commissioned the painting in honor of her husband, Leon John Hutton, who was a 1929 graduate of Purdue's College of Science. The Washington Crossing Foundation owns the painting and has lent it to the University.

During the Presidents Day event, Parrish and Franklin Lambert, professor of history, will discuss George Washington's contributions to the nation's founding, the historical context of the event depicted in the painting and a historical perspective on the painting as  a work of art  and a portrait of military history. President Mitch Daniels also will deliver remarks at the event.


In August 1777, General Howe brought fifteen thousand British troops to Chesapeake Bay as part of his plan to take Philadelphia, where the Continental Congress met. That fall, the British defeated Washington’s soldiers in the Battle of Brandywine Creek and took control of Philadelphia, forcing the Continental Congress to flee. During the winter of 1777–1778, the British occupied the city, and Washington’s army camped at Valley Forge, Pennsylvania.

Prussian soldier Friedrich Wilhelm von Steuben, shown here in a 1786 portrait by Ralph Earl, was instrumental in transforming Washington’s Continental Army into a professional armed force.

Washington’s winter at Valley Forge was a low point for the American forces. A lack of supplies weakened the men, and disease took a heavy toll. Amid the cold, hunger, and sickness, soldiers deserted in droves. On February 16, Washington wrote to George Clinton, governor of New York: “For some days past, there has been little less than a famine in camp. A part of the army has been a week without any kind of flesh & the rest three or four days. Naked and starving as they are, we cannot enough admire the incomparable patience and fidelity of the soldiery, that they have not been ere [before] this excited by their sufferings to a general mutiny and dispersion.” Of eleven thousand soldiers encamped at Valley Forge, twenty-five hundred died of starvation, malnutrition, and disease. As Washington feared, nearly one hundred soldiers deserted every week. (Desertions continued, and by 1780, Washington was executing recaptured deserters every Saturday.) The low morale extended all the way to Congress, where some wanted to replace Washington with a more seasoned leader.

Assistance came to Washington and his soldiers in February 1778 in the form of the Prussian soldier Friedrich Wilhelm von Steuben. Baron von Steuben was an experienced military man, and he implemented a thorough training course for Washington’s ragtag troops. By drilling a small corps of soldiers and then having them train others, he finally transformed the Continental Army into a force capable of standing up to the professional British and Hessian soldiers. His drill manual—Regulations for the Order and Discipline of the Troops of the United States—informed military practices in the United States for the next several decades.

Meanwhile, the campaign to sever New England from the rest of the colonies had taken an unexpected turn during the fall of 1777. The British had attempted to implement the plan, drawn up by Lord George Germain and Prime Minister Lord North, to isolate New England with the combined forces of three armies. One army, led by General John Burgoyne, would march south from Montreal. A second force, led by Colonel Barry St. Leger and made up of British troops and Iroquois, would march east from Fort Oswego on the banks of Lake Ontario. A third force, led by General Sir Henry Clinton, would march north from New York City. The armies would converge at Albany and effectively cut the rebellion in two by isolating New England. This northern campaign fell victim to competing strategies, however, as General Howe had meanwhile decided to take Philadelphia. His decision to capture that city siphoned off troops that would have been vital to the overall success of the campaign in 1777.

This German engraving, created by Daniel Chodowiecki in 1784, shows British soldiers laying down their arms before the American forces.

The British plan to isolate New England ended in disaster. St. Leger’s efforts to bring his force of British regulars, Loyalist fighters, and Iroquois allies east to link up with General Burgoyne failed, and he retreated to Quebec. Burgoyne’s forces encountered ever-stiffer resistance as he made his way south from Montreal, down Lake Champlain and the upper Hudson River corridor. Although they did capture Fort Ticonderoga when American forces retreated, Burgoyne’s army found themselves surrounded by a sea of colonial militias in Saratoga, New York. In the meantime, the small British force under Clinton that left New York City to aid Burgoyne advanced slowly up the Hudson River, failing to provide the much-needed support for the troops at Saratoga. On October 17, 1777, Burgoyne surrendered his five thousand soldiers to the Continental Army.

The American victory at the Battle of Saratoga was the major turning point in the war. This victory convinced the French to recognize American independence and form a military alliance with the new nation, which changed the course of the war by opening the door to badly needed military support from France. Still smarting from their defeat by Britain in the Seven Years’ War, the French supplied the United States with gunpowder and money, as well as soldiers and naval forces that proved decisive in the defeat of Great Britain. The French also contributed military leaders, including the Marquis de Lafayette, who arrived in America in 1777 as a volunteer and served as Washington’s aide-de-camp.

The war quickly became more difficult for the British, who had to fight the rebels in North America as well as the French in the Caribbean. Following France’s lead, Spain joined the war against Great Britain in 1779, though it did not recognize American independence until 1783. The Dutch Republic also began to support the American revolutionaries and signed a treaty of commerce with the United States in 1782.

Great Britain’s effort to isolate New England in 1777 failed. In June 1778, the occupying British force in Philadelphia evacuated and returned to New York City in order to better defend that city, and the British then turned their attention to the southern colonies.

Delaware River Wildlife Facts

The Delaware River Watershed is home to a wide variety of wildlife species that depend on the Delaware River and its ecosystems to survive and thrive. Here are some interesting wildlife facts that you might not know.

The Delaware River is a hotspot for birds and fish. “The Delaware River Basin must be protected, as it provides habitat to over 400 types of birds , over 90 fish species , and many other animals,” says Carrie Barron, center manager for the John James Audubon Center in Audubon, PA.

Even traveling birds regularly utilize the resources of the Delaware River Basin. “The basin is in the Atlantic Flyway and provides habitat and food for 250+ species of migrating birds throughout the year,” says Damien Ruffner, center manager for the Discovery Center, located in Philadelphia, PA.

The Delaware River is home to endangered American Eels. Eels aren’t the first fish that comes to mind when thinking about the Delaware River, but according to Kimberly Estrada, a Delaware River Fellow at the Tulpehaking Nature Center, the river is home to one particular endangered eel species.

“American Eels are the only catadromous fish in North America,” says Estrada. “Catadromous means they spawn in saltwater and live their adult lives in freshwater.”

The eels—who mate in the North Atlantic’s Sargasso Sea—are able to thrive in the Delaware River because it is the longest undammed river located east of the Mississippi. The lack of dams makes it easy for eels to travel to the freshwater for living and then back downstream into the saltwater of the Atlantic Ocean to mate.

You might spot a river otter in Philadelphia along the Delaware. You might think otters are only on display at the Philadelphia Zoo, but these playful creatures can sometimes be found inside the city limits at the John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge.

“ While they nest on the banks of the Delaware River, river otters hunt fish, mollusks, and aquatic invertebrates in the tidal marsh of the refuge,” says Wingyi Kung, visitor service specialist at this Philadelphia-based environmental education center that is America’s first urban wildlife refuge.

Shad still migrate the Delaware River in the spring. The Delaware River is known for its population of migrating shad during the spring months. The migration usually starts around April and lasts for approximately two months as these saltwater fish move to the freshwater of the Delaware to spawn. American shad may migrate 12,000 or more miles during an average life span.

What Happened to the Troops That Were Supposed to Help Washington at Trenton?

You’ve probably heard that two Continental Army brigades were supposed to complement George Washington’s troops from the south at the Battle of Trenton. These brigades are fairly well-remembered, largely because of their absence—weather conditions prevented them from joining Washington’s troops.

So it may come as a surprise to hear that Washington’s strategy called for five separate crossings of the Delaware River on December 25, 1776.

Shortly after Washington arrived at McConkey’s Ferry, he learned the British were dividing the Hessian troops among several garrisons throughout New Jersey. The largest, with around 8,000 British and Hessian soldiers, was in the vicinity of Princeton. By contrast, only 1,400 were designated for Trenton.

That’s where Washington saw the opportunity to claim his elusive first victory in battle, according to Thomas Maddock II, a historical interpreter at Washington Crossing Historic Park. “He developed a plan that entailed up to five total crossings, all of which would take place on December 25, 1776,” Maddock says.

Captain William Washington (a cousin of George Washington) and Captain John Flahaven were to lead two 40-man parties across the Delaware hours before the main army at McConkey’s Ferry began its departure. James Monroe, who was at the time an 18-year-old lieutenant, volunteered to join Captain Washington. Upon their arrival in New Jersey, they were to travel a slightly more interior route, along Pennington Road, to Trenton, where they were to block any communication between the Trenton and Princeton cantonments.

There is some uncertainty as to whether Monroe crossed at Coryell’s Ferry or McConkey’s Ferry. What is agreed upon is that Monroe fought in the Battle of Trenton. He carried in his shoulder the musket ball that hit him until his death in 1831.

South of McConkey’s Ferry, Brigadier General James Ewing and Colonel John Cadwalader were designated by Washington to lead their brigades across the river into New Jersey. Ewing was to block the bridge over Assunpink Creek in Trenton Cadwalader was to hold off Hessian reinforcements from the Mount Holly cantonment.

There was also some hope that General Israel Putnam could lead another crossing from Philadelphia and join the South Jersey militia south of Mount Holly. But Cadwalader was likely counted on more than Putnam.

However, a massive build-up of ice in the river prevented Ewing and Cadwalader from crossing. Cadwalader managed to get 600 men to the New Jersey bank, Maddock says, but when they couldn’t get their cannon across the river, they retreated. Putnam was supposed to reinforce Colonel Samuel Griffin as a diversion, but Griffin was very ill, and many of his men had returned to New Jersey.

Washington received word from Joseph Reed about the icy river conditions at Neshaminy Ferry, where Cadwalader was supposed to have crossed. In response, Washington wrote to Cadwalader and told him that if he was unable to cross, he was to make as great a diversion as possible.

“But Cadwalader, according to most accounts, didn’t do it,” Maddock says. “It was a complex battle plan that came apart quickly. But the Hessians missed opportunities that contributed to their loss at Trenton.”

One account speculates it was because the Hessian soldiers believed their stay in Trenton was going to be short-lived.

“Colonel Johann Rall, the Hessian commander at Trenton, was also very arrogant,” Maddock says. “After defeating Washington five straight times over the preceding months, Rall, who died in the Battle of Trenton, was widely considered to have viewed the Americans as not much of a threat.” That opinion was held by most of the British and Hessian commanders at the time.

While Rall was warned, and he refused to build redoubts for defense, he did request enforcements. British General William Leslie sent troops on two separate occasions from Princeton. British General James Grant, in Brunswick, believed Rall was overreacting, writing, “Tell the Colonel he is safe.”

Ultimately, the disagreement within the British and Hessian forces concerning the danger to the Trenton outpost and how to address it was probably one of the primary causes for the outpost being unprepared for Washington’s attack.

Watch the video: : Ο εκνευρισμός του Πέτρου Φιλιππίδη με τις ερωτήσεις της Σκορδά (July 2022).


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