The Crossing is a 2000 American made-for-television historical film about George Washington’s crossing of the Delaware River and the Battle of Trenton, directed by Robert Harmon.
Based on the novel of the same name by Howard Fast, it stars Jeff Daniels as George Washington. Also appearing in the film are Roger Rees as Hugh Mercer, Sebastian Roche as John Glover and Steven McCarthy as Alexander Hamilton.
After repeated losses and defeats during the American Revolutionary War’s campaign of 1776, the Continental Army retreats across New Jersey.
After the army narrowly escapes across the river to the Pennsylvania shore, Washington meets with his officers. In the past six months, they have lost New York City and been chased through New Jersey by the British, and 90% of their troops have either been killed, taken prisoner, or deserted. In possession of the only boats of any use on that stretch of the Delaware River, the army has a reprieve from further pursuit until the river freezes and they must retreat again, leaving Philadelphia open to capture.
Compounding their problems, Washington’s closest friend, General Hugh Mercer (a physician in civilian life), reminds him that their supplies of food, medicine, ammunition and winter clothing are dangerously low. Realising that something must be done or the Revolution will collapse, Washington conceives a plan to cross the river and conduct a surprise attack on the Hessian garrison at Trenton.
The situation makes the plan appear all but impossible to Colonel John Glover, but due to his loyalty to Washington, he agrees to take the army across. When Washington proposes this operation to his staff, General Gates scoffs at its possibility, going over the line by calling Washington insane and unfit for command. Furious, Washington dismisses Gates from the camp at gunpoint, ordering him into silence. The rest of the staff laughs, but Washington and Glover silence them with the lack of advantages they have.
On Christmas night, the Hessians will be feasting and drinking, so the morning after, hopefully still in darkness, the Continentals must take the fight to them while they are sluggish and hung over. The officers have only a few days to prepare their troops and weapons, and the soldiers, until it is time to cross, must be told no more than necessary.
Despite their own fatigue and the winter weather, Washington manages to lift his weary soldiers’ spirits, allowing the army to cross the river on the night of 25-26 December 1776. The crossing is done in one night, allowing the troops to attack Trenton at eight o’ clock in the morning on 26 December 1776, and achieve a stunning victory, capturing almost all the Hessian garrison.
The film claims that none of Washington’s men were killed or even wounded. However, the Army’s standard military history textbook, ROTCM 145-20, “American Military History 1607-1958,” states on page 61 that in fact two were killed in action, two were wounded, and two men froze to death during the operation.
- Jeff Daniels as Gen. George Washington.
- Roger Rees as Gen. Hugh Mercer.
- Sebastian Roché as Col. John Glover.
- Steven McCarthy as Alexander Hamilton.
- John Henry Canavan as Gen. Henry Knox.
- Ned Vukovic as William Alexander, Lord Stirling.
- David Ferry as Gen. Nathaniel Greene.
- Nigel Bennett as Gen. Horatio Gates.
- Karl Pruner as Gen. John Sullivan.
- Duncan McLeod as Williams.
- Andrew Kraulis as Billy.
- Kelly Harms as Tommy.
- Jonathan Watton as Cadman.
- Kris Holden-Ried as Capt. Heineman.
- Julian Richings as McKenzie.
- James Kidnie as Col. Johann Rall.
- The Crossing won a Peabody Award for excellence in 2000.
- Cinematographer Rene Ohashi also won the 2001 ASC Award for Outstanding Achievement in Cinematography in Movies of the Week/Mini-Series/Pilot, and the film’s sound team was nominated for an Emmy for Outstanding Sound Editing for a Miniseries, Movie or a Special.
- George Washington (1984) (miniseries).
- George Washington II: The Forging of a Nation (1986) (miniseries).
- The Crossing (2000) (Film).
- We Fight To Be Free (2006) (Film).
- Washington (2020) (documentary series).
Production & Filming Details
- Director(s): Robert Harmon.
- Producer(s): David Coatsworth.
- Writer(s): Howard Fast.
- Music: Gary Chang.
- Cinematography: Rene Ohashi.
- Editor(s): Zach Staenberg.
- Production: Chris/Rose Productions, Columbia TriStar Television, and A&E Television Network.
- Distributor(s): Columbia TriStar Television Distribution, Buena Vista Television, and NBC Enterprises.
- Release Date: 10 January 2000.
- Running time: 89 minutes.
- Country: US.
- Language: English.