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Bridget Wingert: Happy to Be Here--The Crossing revisited

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From Dec. 25, 1776 to Jan. 3, 1777, soldiers of the American Revolution changed the direction of the War for Independence in Bucks County, Pa., and Hunterdon and Mercer counties and Princeton, N.J.

We all know the story – it happened just down the road. And we know the 1851 painting by the German-American artist Emanuel Leutze that hangs in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. It’s recognized around the world as “Washington Crossing the Delaware.”

It’s a magnificent heroic image of the crossing, with Gen. Washington standing close to the bow of a Durham boat leading the way across the icy river, much beloved and full of symbolism, but far from the real picture of an army with horses and cannon.

An artist from Millstone, N.J., has painted scenes of the crossing and scenes that followed – in Trenton and Princeton, during the “Ten Crucial Days.”

“My family has been in New Jersey for 11 generations and we are proud of the history of the state,” Garrison said recently. “My hometown of Rahway witnessed the American Army in 1776 retreating down St. George Avenue, They were followed by a much larger British Army.”

Garrison has specialized in painting scenes in American history, the Revolution and the Civil War, that reflect actual battles and important events. He paints what he thinks is important and true to life.

He has completed a series of four paintings related to the Ten Crucial Days, one showing the loading of a flat-bottomed ferry before the crossing, the next showing the landing across the river after following an overhead line, the next in downtown Trenton and finally at the Battle of Princeton.

“I have witnessed the decline of interest in our history and patriotism,” he said, “but there are still some who find our history very important.”

For those people, he has issued prints and is offering them framed for sale at the historic parks in Pennsylvania and New Jersey. For the duration of the pandemic restrictions they can be seen and purchased at Washington Crossing Historic Park in Bucks County. They will be available in New Jersey at Washington Crossing State Park, The Old Barracks in Trenton and Princeton Battlefield when they reopen.

“I was hoping the announcement of these new and unique Crossing prints plus the opportunity to purchase them would provide good news to those disappointed by the unavoidable Christmas Reenactment cancellation,” said William Traubel, Garrison Print Program manager for the Swan Historical Foundation.

“We can have the prints available in time for holiday gift giving,” Swan said. “We can make that happen.”

Jennifer Martin, assistant to the executive director of the Friends of Washington Crossing Historic Park, is committed to meeting all requests for purchases. And Traubel, as a trustee of the Swan Historical Foundation, which is preparing the framed prints, is equally committed to meeting the demand for prints ordered by Dec. 23.

“We have successfully worked together for years and are up to this latest challenge,” he said.

Washington Crossing Historic Park, in Upper Makefield Township, is open. Visitors can see the prints see the amazing prints in the gift shop and purchase a surprise gift.

The print samples will remain at the park and sales will continue in the new year, with the three other Ten Crucial Days parks in New Jersey selling them when they reopen.

Information on ordering prints is available at 609-423-8101. Contact Washington Crossing Historic Park at washingtoncrossingpark.org.

The Swan Historical Foundation is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to encouraging and inspiring continuing knowledge and appreciation of the American Revolution. The foundation is named for an early United States Congressman, Dr. Samuel Swan, of Somerville, N.J., who wrote the bill authorizing a pension for the widows and orphans of the first American soldiers. That legislation eventually led to the creation of the Veterans Administration.


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