Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Visual_art_of_the_United_States#mediaviewer/File:Washington_Crossing_the_Delaware_by_Emanuel_Leutze,_MMA-NYC,_1851.jpg, currently located at The Metropolitan Museum of Art and was painted by Emmanuel Leutze circa 1851
This painting depicts General Washington leading his troops across the partially frozen Delaware River of New Jersey to attack a Hessian encampment. It is clear that the artist, Emmanuel Leutze, wants to imply that this was a positive action. This is seen when one looks at the bright light surrounding General Washington’s face, in addition to the pose that Washington maintains with his straight back and head held high. There are many other instances found in this painting that would imply that those depicted in this painting are committing a noble and beneficial act, such as the treacherous conditions. However, when one looks at the context of the mission that these men were carrying, it is inevitable that one would arrive at the conclusion that this is barely a noble undertaking at all. What is actually happening here is that General Washington is leading an assault on a Hessian base on the dawn of Christmas Day. The plan was that Washington had hoped his enemies would be too hungover and inebriated from the previous evening (Christmas Eve) festivities to properly mount a decent defense. And this is exactly what happened, these supposedly noble individuals depicted in this painting slaughtered the Hessians, many of whom were still asleep, and barely took any prisoners. This cowardly assault took advantage of their enemies moral and religious devotions, it was based on what we would consider foul play and is not something modern americans don’t want to acknowledge, primarily because we look down on this sort of behavior in war.