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David Hackett Fisher's Washington's Crossing is a well told story of the Continental Army in the fall and winter of 1776, a very dark hour in our nation's history. Fisher is the type of history teacher we all should have had in school. If so, we all would be avid students of the past.

Few realize how close the army came to being annihilated by the British commanders Richard and William Howe in late August of 1776. The evacuation of Long Island is nothing short of a miracle, I would say a divine deliverance, that save the core of Washington's army. Ten thousand Americans were trapped on Brooklyn Heights, the British Army in their front and the Royal Navy in the rear. We held a strong position but it was only a matter of time.

The British lines advanced and the ships were poised to strike. On August 28th there was a change in the weather. A northeasterly began to blow amidst dark clouds and a cold rain, "such heavy rainfall as can hardly be remembered." On August 29th Washington ordered an evacuation to begin immediately in strict secrecy. A regiment of New England fisherman began, under cover of darkness, to ferry the troops across the East River to Manhatten Island. With the dawn came the chance of discovery by the British an an increased attack.

"Then incredibly there was another change in the weather. One participant observed, "a very dense fog began to rise, and it seemed to settle in a peculiar manner over both encampments." The soldiers received this as a "providential occurrence". This allowed the Americans to finish their evacuation of the island with little, if any, loss.

Washington's decision to evacuate was his alone and was made in a decisive manner as if he alone saw what must be done. Perhaps God put it in his mind that this was the step to take to preserve the army and the hope of the nation. Had the army been defeated here the Colonies would have been brought back in the fold of Britain and the course of history changed. But God has something else in mind.

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