The Battle of Trenton


One of the most important victories for the Americans took place on December 26, 1776, in the Battle of Trenton. With the loss in September 1776 of New York City and even the Battle of the White Plains, General George Washington was forced to cross the Delaware River and retreat to New Jersey.  Rather than chase the Americans across, the British chose to return to New York City while the German Hessian army rested in Trenton, New Jersey.


Crossing the Delaware

General Washington was facing a major potential loss at the end of the year as many of his soldiers’ enlistments were scheduled to expire. He knew that if he did not act quickly, the city of Philadelphia would be vulnerable. Rather than hunker down and ride out the winter, Washington chose to act. Facing brutal winter storms on Christmas Night, General George Washington and his troops bravely crossed the Delaware River. During the move he informed his troops that they would be striking Bordentown, a town south of Trenton, where Hessian soldiers had settled in. It took the Continental Army until 3:00 in the morning (the target had been midnight) to complete the crossing.

General Washington crosses the Delaware River


The Attack on Trenton

Once the Americans arrived on the New Jersey shore, General Washington split his army into two columns and sent them into Trenton on parallel routes.

The Hessians caught completely off guard and surrendered quickly. The Americans had gained a huge cache of weapons and captured approximately 1000 prisoners. They returned to Pennsylvania with their prisoners, muskets, and ammunition. The Continental Army left behind only three Americans killed. This crucial victory was a breath of fresh air to the American cause and was a crowning moment for General Washington.