Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

The Crossing: How George Washington Saved The American Revolution

The Crossing: How George Washington Saved The American Revolution

Jim Murphy
For ages 10 and up
Scholastic Press, 2010   ISBN: 978-0439691864

After the battles at Lexington and Concord in April, 1775, the representatives at the Continental Congress had the difficult job of choosing someone who could turn the “ragtag group of rebellious men” into a real army. On June 15, the representatives decided that the man for the job was George Washington. Though Washington had not had a particularly successful military career and had no experience leading a large army, he was the man whom John Adams and others thought would be able to lead the American army to victory. George Washington himself was not at all convinced that he would be able to do what was being asked of him, but he was determined to do his best.

   George Washington knew that whoever had control of New York City would have the upper hand because all the main roads between the north and south ran through the city. Clearly he was not the only one who thought this because in late August 1776, the Americans noticed that the British,  who had hundreds of ships anchored  between Staten Island and Long Island, were starting to convey soldiers from the ships to Long Island using barges. Washington had not anticipated this move to Long Island and did not have enough soldiers there to stop the British. Soon, 22,000 British soldiers and all their horses, weapons, and supplies were on the island.

   Though Congress and the American soldiers thought that they were perfectly able to defeat the British, the truth of the matter was that they were an untrained and undisciplined bunch. The officers who were supposed to command the soldiers were not much better, and everyone was ill equipped for a military campaign. The American spies and scouts were not able to supply reliable information that Washington could use. He didn’t even know how many British troops were on the ground, and certainly had no idea what the enemy was planning.

   When the Americans and British forces met, the Americans were soundly beaten and Washington saw hundreds of his soldiers running from the British in a state of panic. He was both embarrassed and furious that his troops had, on the whole, performed so poorly at such a critical time. Washington felt that he had no choice but to retreat. Perhaps if he could get his men to safety, they would be able to recover and ready themselves to fight again soon.

   The retreat was a painful one, and Washington and his men were pushed out of New York into Delaware and then across the Delaware River into Pennsylvania. The British choose to stop on the Delaware side of the river where they could spend the winter. Washington now had to deal with a mountain of problems. Men were deserting, Congress had lost faith in him, and his faith in himself and his abilities as a general had taken a beating. Washington was going to have to do something to show the Americans and British alike that the American army was a force to be reckoned with.

   In this carefully researched and beautifully written book, award winning author Jim Murphy tells the story of a pivotal moment in the American Revolutionary War. Readers can see how George Washington grew as a tactician and as a leader, how he learned how to do the unexpected, and how he earned the respect and loyalty of his officers and troops.