BATTLES OF TRENTON AND PRINCETON
Throughout the last part of the summer and the entirety of the fall of 1776, the British army, lead by General William Howe was making a push through New York towards the south, taking control and pushing the continental army along the way. This included a decisive victory on November the 16th to which the British gained control of Fort Washington in Manhattan and imprisoned two thousand prisoners while doing so. The push continued, moving the colonists across New Jersey and continued south. By Mid-December General George Washington had moved his troops across the Delaware River, where they remained on the Pennsylvanian side, suffering from a lack of food, ammunition, supplies, and warmth.
Great Britain was wearing the American’s down little by little until they would be down to nothing, down to a point where a single fight could end them. Washington realized this and decided that harsh action was necessary from the American side if they stood a chance in the War. Washington wanted to turn and attack the Hessian garrison in Trenton by using a three pronged attack. He would lead the central army of 2,400 men, and have Colonel John Cadwalader lead a 1,900 men flanking army while General James Ewing would enlist in a blocking move with 700 men. The weather was dreadful, and Washington lead his men across the icy river in boats to begin the 19 mile mach towards Trenton. The 1,400 Hessian soldiers under Colonel Johann Rall at Trenton were unprepared and unorganized compared to Washington’s troops and it lead to a quick surrendering by the Hessian forces. All total, there were 22 killed, 92, wounded, and 918 captured soldiers. America suffered five wounded and 2 soldiers who froze to death.
The fighting continued between the time of the Battle of Trenton and the Battle of Princeton. Just after the victory at Trenton, Washington knew that his men could not hold Trenton, so he moved his army as well as thousands of militiamen north towards Princeton where he was informed that 8,000 British troops were coming his way. When the two sides collided, Washington had 5,000 men while British General Charles Cornwallis came with 5,500. There was minimal fighting with Cornwallis thinking he had kept Washington’s army at bay, but throughout the night, Washington lead all but 500 men north towards Princeton to engage in a secretive attack.
At dawn of January 3rd, 1777, George Washington had snuck behind the majority of Cornwallis’ army and began an attack on the rear guard in an attack that outnumbered the British 5 to 1. This victory, which amounted in only 40 Patriot deaths while killing 275 Redcoats, lead General William and Admiral Richard Howe to remove British troops from New Jersey and concentrate on the Atlantic coast. It turned out to be massive victory for the American’s and was a key point in realizing that George Washington was an ideal leader for America as his ability to unify people from different backgrounds (shown by his work with the militiamen) was unmatched by all of his peers.