The autumn of 1779 had been relatively mild across the 13 colonies as they struggled against the British for independence, but on December 14, 1779 and cold wave hit as arctic air spilled out of Canada and into the Colonies. It was a portend of what was to come. The winter of 1779–1780 has been called among the harshest in the eighteenth century. The so-called Hard Winter. A total of twenty-eight snowstorms hit the soon to be United States, some dropping snow for several days in succession. The temperature rarely rose above freezing as the Delaware and Hudson Rivers froze over. Sledges moved regularly across ten miles of ice between Annapolis and the opposite shore of the Chesapeake. Wild animals were almost exterminated. General Alexander (Lord Stirling) marched over a saltwater channel to make his unsuccessful Staten Island raid—even his artillery passed over the six miles of open water safely. Washington's main army suffered much more, because of this weather, in their Morristown winter quarters than they had at Valley Forge two years earlier, with snow lying six feet deep. The British in New York suffered almost as much as the economy in North America ground to a halt and food became scarce everywhere. As inflation took off, Washington found it ever more difficult to obtain much needed supplies for his shrinking Continental army.
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