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One-way trip across the Delaware River by Steve Payne

Author says: what if the first Battle of Trenton had been a catastrophe for the Continental Army and George Washington had been killed? Please note that the opinions expressed in this post do not necessarily reflect the views of the author(s).

In 1776, during a howling nor-easter Colonel Johann Rall and his Hessian mercenaries repelled a bold American attack on Trenton that left Commander George Washington and many of his troops from the decimated Continental Army dead or dying in the freezing Delaware River on this bitterest of Christmas Days.

Since the heady days of the summer, Washington had lost ninety percent of his command and had already admitted both to his diary and in confidence to his colleagues that "I think the game is pretty near up".

And yet his successors would carry the germ of an idea that Washington had conceived on the eve of Battle. That concept was a breakthrough in organisational planning for irregular forces, that "a people unused to restraint must be led, they will not be drove". In effect, Washington had blended the best ideas of the American revolution with the War of Independence. Because his advocacy of open councils in a proletariat army was his gift to the future.

Sharing his dead comrade's "full persuasion of the Justice of our cause" Thomas Paine returned to Great Britain after the so-called "black times of '76". The War of Independence might have ended in defeat, at least for now, but the Revolution had not, and Paine would ensure that it spread across the fertile ground of his homeland, Great Britain itself.

Author says the idea for this story originated from the source article "The Black Times of '76", by David Hackett Fischer, published in Winter 2010 Edition of American Heritage Magazine
To view guest historian's comments on this post please visit the Today in Alternate History web site.

Other Contemporary Stories

Tragedy at Elk River Bring it on Home End of the American Crisis

Steve Payne

Editor of Today in Alternate History, a Daily Updating Blog of Important Events In History That Never Occurred Today. Follow us on Facebook, Myspace and Twitter.

Imagine what would be, if history had occurred a bit differently. Who says it didn't, somewhere? These fictional news items explore that possibility. Possibilities such as America becoming a Marxist superpower, aliens influencing human history in the 18th century and Teddy Roosevelt winning his 3rd term as president abound in this interesting fictional blog.


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