The first six months of the Revolutionary War saw the Continental Army chased from New York, New Jersey and into Pennsylvania. Ranks dwindled from 20,000 to 2,000 exhausted soldiers - most leaving at year's end when their six-month enlistment was up. Expecting British invasion, the Continental Congress fled Philadelphia and sent the word "until Congress shall otherwise order, General Washington be possessed of full power to order and direct all things." In an operation with the password "Victory or Death," Washington's troops crossed the ice-filled Delaware River at midnight Christmas Day. Trudging in a blinding blizzard, with one soldier freezing to death, they attacked the feared Hessian troops in Trenton, New Jersey, at daybreak DECEMBER 26, 1776, capturing nearly a thousand soldiers in just over an hour. Some Americans were shot, including James Monroe, the future 5th President. General Washington wrote August 20, 1778: "The Hand of Providence has been so conspicuous in all this - the course of the war - that he must be worse than an infidel that lacks faith, and more wicked that has not gratitude to acknowledge his obligations; but it will be time enough for me to turn Preacher when my present appointment ceases."