Washington's Crossing of Delaware Re-Enacted
Dec. 26, 1988
WASHINGTON'S CROSSING, Pa. (AP) _ Some of the 12,000 spectators shouted ''Go get 'em, George 3/8'' as the flotilla of boats crossed the Delaware River Sunday to re-enact George Washington's famed Christmas crossing.
The crowd offered an enthusiastic contrast to the stately James Gallagher, who portrayed the ''father of his country'' with his red and blue cape fluttering in the wind and his white wig and three-cornered hat highlighted by the sun.
Wearing a colonial uniform of blue and buff, Gallagher stood erect in a 40- foot Durham Boat in Sunday's annual commemoration of the Revolutionary War general's famous crossing.
Gallagher looked like the painting by Emanuel Gottlieb Leutze that re- created that day 212 years ago. But Sunday's event had more than 12,000 people watching and cheering.
''I must say it was exciting,'' Gallagher said as he was rowed across from Pennsylvania to New Jersey on a sunny, windswept day with temperatures more like autumn than winter.
''The crowds were exceptionally motivated and greeted George with lots of remarks like 'Go get 'em, George 3/8' and 'You look like just the president,''' said Gallagher, who's planning to ride the boat again next month in the inaugural parade of President-elect George Bush.
The boat will be pulled on a trailer when it is in Washington on Jan. 20.
History records that Washington, in the darkness of night and during a terrible winter storm, crossed the river with 2,400 troops, 200 horses and 18 cannon to surprise British-hired Hessian soldiers in 1776 for a victory in Trenton that some consider a turning point in the war for American independence.
''He had a miserable night,'' said Gallagher, 60, who was portraying Washington for the fourth time.
Gallagher went across with 120 men in four boats and did it in 25 minutes despite a low river that forced cautious rowers to be wary of rocks protruding from the river bed. The real Washington took more than nine hours to get his men and equipment across.
''It was really exciting to see such a crowd,'' Gallagher said. ''When it's colder there are a lot less people, but the weather was just beautiful and it made the crossing fabulous.''