New Hope Revolutionary War History

There is a treasure in New Hope!  That treasure is the almost unbelievable array of events and people who have done important deeds which in turn salvaged victory from the gaping maw of defeat.  That salvaged victory allowed the triumph at Trenton that insured the ultimate permanent establishment of the United States of America. 


General Washington’s many defeats in the fall of 1776 ultimately led to his last stand on the Western bank of the Delaware River.  Most people, when asked, know something about the “Christmas Crossing”.  What may not be known is the extent of preparation that was needed to achieve that successful crossing.


Washington planned for two other crossings.  One led by General Ewing at Morrisville and one led by General Cadwalider at Bristol.  These additional fronts never achieved success because of the varying ice conditions on the Delaware River and weather.  Washington needed one more thrust into Jersey.  A fourth maneuver, led by Washington’s cousin Captain William Washington, at Coryell’s Ferry (New Hope) was successful. 


A major participant and second in command to “Bill” Washington was young Lt. James Monroe.

The mission sounded simple enough.  Cross the river at Coryell’s Ferry, March seven miles inland to an intersection of the Princeton/Pennington road, stop all individuals traveling on that road to prevent reinforcements from reaching Trenton in time to help the Hessians. 


Easy, Right? As any soldier knows no plan ever survives first contact with the actual weather conditions, people or enemy.


In this case Lt. Monroe’s column was hampered by a Nor-Easter that turned into a full fledged blizzard.  They dutifully held that intersection for over 6 hours when the nearest neighbor to that intersection was awoken by their activities.  That neighbor turned out to be Dr. Riker.  He judged that the soldiers at the corner of his property were actually soldiers in Washington’s Army. 


6 hours was all that General Washington required of these troops.  Once the time had elapsed, they were free to quit their post and head to safety.  After some spirited discussion it was decided they would try and reach Trenton, head into danger, in time to join up with General Washington.

Dr. Riker immediately volunteered to go along.  He said, “Perhaps I may help some poor fellow”.  It is good that he did so.  We had four casualties in that action.  Two soldiers froze to death in the line of March getting to Trenton.  Two officers were shot in the chest, Captain William Washington and Lt. James Monroe.  Dr. Riker’s quick medical treatment saved them both. 


This insured that the young man, James Monroe, would survive and become the 5th President of the United States of America.

Washington’s crossing had the first future President, New Hope had the 5th!