Washington has the tattered remnants of his "army" on the western bank of the Delaware River opposite Trenton. Philadelphia, the capitol, has been evacuated.
...Washington now had an army of about 7,500, but that was a paper figure only. Possibly 6,000 were fit for duty. Hundreds were sick and suffering from the cold... more and more of the local citizenry were signing the British Proclamation [a pardon in exchange for an oath of loyalty to the crown]. Congress had fled. Two former members of Congress, Joseph Galloway and Andrew Allen, had gone over to the enemy.
The Continental Army has been humiliated in New York and suffered defeat after defeat. Ft. Washington and Fort Lee, prepared with such daunting effort, are lost. They have fled, ill clothed and fed, across New Jersey with Lord General Howe baying at their heels. It is during this retreat that Thomas Paine writes The Crisis.
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 their country... What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly: it is dearness only that gives every thing its value.
I have read a fair bit about Washington and The Revolution but I was unaware of, or had long forgotten, William Tudor.
On December 24, the day before Christmas, Washington's judge advocate, Colonel William Tudor, who had been with him from the beginning, wrote again, as he often had during the campaign, to tell his fiancée in Boston of his continuing love for her, and to explain why his hopes of returning soon to Boston had vanished. "I cannot desert a man (and it would certainly be desertion in a court of honor) who has deserted everything to defend his country, and whose chief misfortune, among ten thousand others, is that large part of it wants spirit to defend itself."
A man, of whom I had taken no lasting notice, has reached across 230 years to cuff me upside the head. I am grateful to him.