• Moderator

    On January 3rd, 1777, George Washington led a large American force in an attack on Princeton, a principal British outpost in southern New Jersey, completing a successful excursion which he had started on the night of December 25th, 1776 at the crossing of the Delaware. Before the battle of Princeton, numerous soldiers enlistments in their local state militias were expiring in the new year, yet Washington was able to impress the gravity of the situation on many troops, and he persuaded 5,200 to continue to fight with him in New Jersey.

    Before the battle, Washington devised a brilliant hoax, leaving 400 men to tend fires and make entrenching sounds in their positions outside of Trenton, making the British think they were digging in for the night. All the while, Washington’s main body was circumventing Cornwallis, and moving to seize Princeton farther up the road. Washington did not expect that the British force holding Princeton was also moving towards him.

    The continental vanguard, led by Hugh Mercer, engaged British forces under Charles Mawhood, stationed as a holding force in Princeton. Mercer was killed in the engagement, and his men began to retreat, even though they outnumber the British on the field. Then Washington arrives, bringing reinforcements with him. He rides to the front of his line to rally his troops. While Washington is rallying his men, both sides exchange volleys, the smoke clears, and the American general still sit atop his horse unharmed. He subsequently orders a charge against an already breaking British line, and temporarily seizes Princeton.

    The attack on Princeton was less a victory for US forces (they were forced to retreat shortly thereafter, since Cornwallis was in close pursuit) and more of a proving ground that the colonials could stand, albeit weakly, and be victorious on a European battlefield. French support was secured. I was fortunate this last year (2013) to visit PA and NJ and visit the crossing as well as Princeton/University, seeing Nassau Hall, where 194 British soldiers hid until Alexander Hamilton, a young officer in the Continental Army, fired at the structure and forced the enemy to capitulate. A wonderful battlesite to visit, as well as the college.

    GG

  • Moderator 2022 2021 '20 '19 '18 '17 '16 '15 '14 '13 '12

    Thank you GG. Great read. I had no idea you had Winter battles in your little war with us.
    And you have been to the battlefield too. Nice.
    Hope you are well and had a great Christmas and New Year.

  • Moderator

    @wittmann:

    Thank you GG. Great read. I had no idea you had Winter battles in your little war with us.
    And you have been to the battlefield too. Nice.
    Hope you are well and had a great Christmas and New Year.

    Wittman, thank you. I can only find two major engagements during the winter: Benedict Arnold’s failed attempt into Canada during '75, and the New Jersey Campaign in '77. In the US, we do idolize Washington’s Christmas crossing of the Delaware, but, to me, Princeton was more significant in that whole campaign. It was a little war, but if any battle of the war made it “larger”, it would be Princeton as a display to the French.

    Happy New Year to you! I had an outstanding Christmas and New Year. A busy work schedule throughout the beginning of December, so, it came at the right time. I’m looking forward to a year of your excellent historical posts. Always a treat.

    GG

  • Moderator 2022 2021 '20 '19 '18 '17 '16 '15 '14 '13 '12

    You trying to make me feel more guilty than I do for neglecting my posts!
    I have got into AAA and as a meticulous player, fearing of making an elementary mistake, I take so long to do a turn, that I find I have no time for my first love on the forum: historical posts.
    I want to write more about your war, but realise I have done the major battles before and would hate to repeat myself. Sometimes I want to drag them back up and comment again.
    I also worry that I am writing on a subject I did a year ago(or two) and that won’t do!
    I will try more; I promise.
    Glad you have been well and have enjoyed your break.

  • Moderator

    I understand! AAA has a way of altering your thinking, for the good! I will just say I am happy to accept any tidbit you have, even repeats or comments.

    GG

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