Trenton – It Turned the Tide

Washington’s New Year’s Attack Kept the Revolution Alive

washington crossed the delaware

On January 3, 1777, the fields around Princeton, New Jersey, saw some of the fiercest fighting of the Revolutionary War.  During the battle, George Washington surprised and defeated British Regulars.  The battle came at the end of Washington’s brilliant crusade which saw the night-time crossing of the Delaware and the two battles in Trenton.  These were Washington’s first victories against British regulars.

Washington managed to defeat the British at Princeton thanks to a daring plan.  He left a small group of soldiers behind to keep camp fires goes, while moving his main army around the British flank and attacking Princeton.  After the battle, Washington regrouped his army, took all of the available supplies, and went into winter camp.  The winter of 1777 was a particularly harsh one, but Washington’s victories kept the revolutionary spirit alive and well.

American losses at Princeton were about 45.  British losses numbered 400, most taken prison, with about 40 killed.

The period of time from the Christmas crossing of the Delaware to the victory at Princeton is known as the Ten Crucial Days.  Many historians believe that without the victories at Trenton and Princeton, the Revolutionary War would have been dead in the water.

My Trenton Visit to the Hessian Barracks

As a history geek I knew the story about Washington’s attack on the Hessian Barracks in Trenton. But while walking up to Thomas Edison State University from my hotel (I was doing a project for them), I finally realized I was walking past those very same barracks! I don’t know why it took so long for the penny to drop.

I came back to Trenton weeks later with my niece and her friend, when we took the guided tour through the Barracks. Although I took several photos inside, it wasn’t until the end of the tour that the docent told me no one was supposed to photograph inside the barracks. So enjoy two of the photos I took! The first is of a reenactor, the second is a typical dinnerware setting for the officers.

In the small museum is a pane of window glass with a bullet hole in it, shot during the attack. Hard to imagine that it survived all of these years. Just wondering – were any of your ancestors at Trenton or Princeton with Washington?

hessian reenactor

hessian barracks trenton new jersey

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If you ever get to Trenton New Jersey, go see the Hessian Barracks. Washington's New Year's surprise attack here and at Princeton kept the Revolution alive. It was wonderful to visit a place that was so pivotal in the Revolutionary War. See two of the photos I took on my visit there.

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