Fought on December 26, 1776, the Battle of Trenton was a pivotal battle during the American Revolutionary War. Prior to the battle, the British had handed the Americans a number of major defeats. The American morale was very low and many men had deserted the army. At such a juncture, George Washington, Commander-in-Chief of the Continental Army, laid out a bold plan to attack the enemy forces stationed at Trenton in New Jersey. The American forces first made the famous crossing of the Delaware River, which was accomplished “with almost infinite difficulty”. They then swiftly defeated the missionaries at Trenton capturing around 900 soldiers along with provisions; and arms and ammunition. The Battle of Trenton was a key victory for the Americans as it boosted the morale of the Continental Army and instilled vigor in the general populace. Know more about the causes, significance, casualties and effects of the Battle of Trenton through these 10 interesting facts.
1. The American had suffered major defeats before the Battle of Trenton
In August 1776, the Americans lost the Battle of Long Island, the first major battle of the American Revolutionary War. They had to give up control of the strategically important port city of New York and after several more defeats, they were forced to retreat through New Jersey and into Pennsylvania. The morale of the Continental Army was very low and many men had deserted, feeling that the cause for independence was lost. In a letter to his cousin, George Washington, Commander-in-Chief of the Continental Army, expressed his concern and wrote: “I think the game is pretty near up”. At such a juncture, Washington spotted an opportunity and devised a plan to launch a surprise attack on the Hessian soldiers stationed at Trenton in New Jersey. Hessians were paid German soldiers who were fighting for the British army.
2. The American plan of a three pronged attack couldn’t be realized
George Washington devised a plan by which he would carry a three pronged attack. His force of 2,400 men would carry the main assault. Colonel John Cadwalader, with a force of 1,900 men would launch a diversionary attack against the British garrison at Bordentown, New Jersey, to block off reinforcements from the south; while General James Ewingwould take 700 militia to seize the bridge over the Assunpink Creek and prevent enemy troops from escaping. The American plan required three different crossings of the Delaware River, which forms the entire boundary between Pennsylvania and New Jersey. However, in the end, both Cadwalader and Ewing’s forces were unable to cross the river as it was ice-choked and there was a storm.