From The Victory Girls:
The Legacy of Trenton – Veterans Day 2013
by Kit Lange on November 11, 2013
It was Christmas, 1776. The Continental Army, made up of unpaid volunteers with poor equipment and not enough winter clothing, was cold, hungry, and despairing. Some of the troops did not even have shoes. The ideas of self-government and liberty seemed worlds away, lost in a wintry conflict that the ragtag soldiers were certain to lose against the well-equipped and well-funded British. There was a lack of morale, a lack of hope. Many Continental soldiers were leaving as soon as their enlistments were up. Some were even going over to the British side, sure that joining the enemy would at least keep them alive.
General George Washington had just crossed the icy Delaware River with 2,400 soaked, freezing volunteer soldiers. A few days previously, he had ordered the newly-published words of Thomas Paine to be read to them.
“These are the times that try men’s souls; the summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of his country; but he that stands it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman. Tyranny, like hell, is not easily conquered; yet we have this consolation with us, that the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph.”
The words were not food; they could not be fired from a musket. But they bolstered the morale of exhausted fighting men and helped them remember why they were putting their lives on the line. Washington needed them to fight; the general was about to bet it all.
The rest at the link.