Washington Crossing the Delaware at Dawn of the Battle of Trenton
The gloriously successful Battle of Princeton occurred just over a week after Washington’s great victory at Trenton. The brave General Washington snuck away in the dead of the night from British Lieutenant General Charles Cornwallis. Washington cleverly left a few soldiers to attend to the fires and make noise so the British assumed all of the soldiers were still there. Our American troops dutifully marched towards Princeton, but eventually reached Stony Brook and the Quaker Bridge. A new bridge had to be quickly built since the Quaker Bridge could not withhold the weight of their cannon. Washington stategically split his army into two parts, one half under the command of General Nathanael Greene and the other under General John Sullivan. Their plan was to attack Princeton before dawn, much like the previous victory at the Battle of Trenton.
Washington Attacking at The Battle of Princeton.
The enemy was lead by the appalling inept Lieutenant General Cornwallis and Major General James Grant. They were at Princeton ready to attack Washington’s troops. Washington had to convince his troops to reenlist; for their enlistments ended on December 31st. Brigadier General Henry Knox and Thomas Mifflin begged their soldiers to reenlist. Washington showed his exceptional leadership by announcing to the troops, “My brave fellows, you have done all I asked you to do and more than could reasonably be expected. But your country is at stake, your wives, your houses, and all that you hold dear. You have worn yourselves out with fatigues and hardships, but we know not how to spare you. If you will consent to stay only one month longer, you will render that service to the cause of liberty and to your country which you probably never can do under any other circumstances. The present is emphatically the crisis which is to decide our destiny." Washington had skillfully convinced his brave troops to stay for 6 more weeks. He had 1,600 courageous Continentals as well as some of our New Jersey and Pennsylvania militias. The British had over 6,000 cowardly troops spread out in our colony of New Jersey. Washington sent the outstanding Brigadier General Edward Hand to postpone Cornwallis’s attack.

The Death of General Mercer

Cornwallis left over 1,000 men with Lieutenant Colonel Charles Mawhood in Princeton and Brigadier General Alexander Leslie in Maidenhead. Cornwallis arrived at Trenton, tremendously outnumbering Washington. He reluctantly allowed his tired troops to rest for the night with the plan to attack Washington in the morning. It was then, that Washington strategically snuck away from the British to attack Princeton. He sent Brigadier General Hugh Mercer to block the way of Leslie reinforcing Mawhood. Mawhood was marching to Trenton to meet Cornwallis when he spotted Mercer blocking the Stony Creek Bridge. Battle broke out, mortally injuring General Mercer. Washington, Sullivan, and Greene arrived, forcing the British back into Princeton. The British took up position in Nassau Hall. The American cannon broke through the building and the British quickly surrendered. General William Howe ordered a retreat from all of New Jersey except for a line from Perth Amboy to New Brunswick. Washington then marched his men to Pluckemin, protected by the Watchung Mountains. He and his troops will spend their winter in Morristown having
pushed the British from most of New Jersey.

British under Colonel Mawhood attacking the Americans at Princeton

Map of the Battle of Princeton

Review Questions:
1. What brook could Washington not pass over and why?
2. How did Washington's experience in fighting the British affect his strategy at Princeton?
3. What did Washington say to try to get his troops to reenlist? Was he successful?
4. How many more troops did the British have than Washington? Why didn't this affect the outcome?
5. Why did Washington go to Pluckemin after the battle?