As we conclude our unit on the American Revolution we will view the movie “The Crossing”. This film is a dramatization of Washington's victory at Trenton the day after Christmas, 1776. Had Washington not attempted the crossing of the ice-choked Delaware River and had the ill-fed, freezing, poorly trained, and poorly armed Continentals failed to prevail over the feared Hessian mercenaries, the American Revolution would probably have collapsed. This movie presents an account of that battle.
The film shows a key event in the Revolutionary War and gives students a glimpse of one of those extraordinary battles in which a few determined soldiers changed the course of history. It shows some of the difficulties in a revolution against the powerful forces of the British Empire. The movie humanizes George Washington, often seen as distant and aloof, as he contends with vastly superior British forces.
Students will understand the desperate situation of the Continental Army and of the Revolution in December 1776 and the pivotal role of the Battle of Trenton in saving the Revolution. The film provides opportunities for students to exercise reading, research, thinking and writing skills.
The movie conveys an accurate picture of the plight of the Continental Army in December of 1776 and the difficulties faced by George Washington in leading the army. The movie has no MPAA Rating. There is a moderate amount of blood and violence in the war scenes and some profanity throughout the film.
1. How many Hessians were taken prisoner and how many Americans were killed or wounded at the Battle of Trenton?
2. How many months after the American Declaration of Independence was the Battle of Trenton fought?
3. In the Battle of Trenton, the Continentals outnumbered the Hessians almost 2 to 1. The Hessians were surprised and were poorly led. Why was this victory considered so important?
4. Where did the Hessians come from and why were they fighting for the British?
5. What would probably have happened to the American Revolution had Washington not crossed the Delaware and engaged the Hessians at Trenton at the end of December, 1776?
6. One of the memorable incidents shown in the film is Washington making a joke at the expense of General Knox, his commander of artillery. The novelist and screenwriter, Howard Fast, found a reference to this in the memoirs of some of the soldiers who were present. What role did Washington's joke play in his leadership at the Battle of Trenton?
7. Describe three actions other than cracking the joke about General Knox that Washington took which showed leadership at Trenton.
8. David McCullough, in his book 1776, concludes that one of Washington's greatest traits was the self-confidence necessary to persevere amid disaster. McCullough writes: "often in the dark year of 1776, [Washington] would not only overcome his own fears but help his countrymen conquer theirs, too -- a supreme act of providential leadership." Two other great Presidents, Franklin Roosevelt and Abraham Lincoln, also helped their countrymen overcome their fears in many different ways. Give one example each for Presidents Roosevelt and Lincoln.
9. Washington was described as one of those rare few who, under fire, appeared to be without fear. Why is this important in a military leader?
10. After the battle, the character of General Greene asks the character of General Washington to speak with Colonel Rall before Rall dies. Washington replies: "Do you want me to weep for those bastards, men who kill for profit?" General Greene responds that: "Our own cause at its heart is a fight against taxation, is it not? In the end, we all kill for profit, the British and the Hessians and us." Do you agree with the character of General Greene that the American Revolution was fought for money?