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s decisive cordia i purpos's, exce: 3 the city, a to have been aba? practicable, or mal time.
grew too severe : od the frosts were
laware, it because 5 the middle si i the Britih za nder cover. These thrown into grea ming an extenbn:
wick on the Ri. ware, OCCUPSELT is, pots, and vid : within a liberal 1 line, but there of the Delaware o that the latte t the end of the over to Perfil
u or 1500 men, at Trenton, up- force by the manner of applying
on the Delaware, being the highest it; by bringing it rearly io a
post which the royal army occupied point; and by aciacking unex.
upon that river. Colonel Donofi peciedly and separately thole bo-
with anocher brigade, lay at Bor- dies which he could not venture to
dentown, a few miles lower down encounter if united. If the design
the river; and at Burlington, sucietded only in part, it might,
till lower and within twenty however, induce the enemy to con-
miles of Philadelphia, a third tract their cantonments, and to
body was pulled. The corps at quit the viciniiy of the river, when
Trenton, as well as the others, they found it was not a sufficient
partly from the know,edge they barrier to cover their quarters from
had of the weakness of the enemy, infolt and danger; thus obtaining
and partly from the contempt in that security for Philadelphia, which,
which they held him, considered at prelent, was the principal ob.
themselves in as periect a state of jeel of his attention.
security, as if they had beon upon For this purpose, General Wan.
garrisoa duty in their own coun- ington took the necessary meatures
try, in a time of the profoundest for assembling his forces (which
peace. It is said, and seems pro. confilied mostly of drafts from the
bable, that this supposed security, militia of Pensylvania and Virgi.
increased that licence and laxity of nia) in three divifions, each of
discipline, of which we have before which was to arrive at its appoinled
taken notice, and produced an in- station on the Delaware, as soon
attention to the polibility of a after dark, and with as little noise,
furprize, which no success of fitva- as possible, on the night of Christ.
tion can justify in the vicinity of mas-day. Two of these dividons
an enemy, however weak or con- were under the command of the
Generals Erwing and Cadwalla-
These circumlances, if they der, the first of which was to pass
really exifted, seem not to have the river at Trenton Ferry, about
escaped the vigilance of General a mile below the town, and the
Wahington. But, exclusive of other still lower towards Borden-
these, be fully saw and compre- town. The principal body was
hended the danger to whichi Phila- commanded by Mr. Wahingon
delphia and the whole province in person, affified by the Generals
would be inevitably expésed, as Sullivan and Green, and confitled
soon as the Delaware was thorough- of about 2500 men, provided with
ly covered with ice, if the enemy, a train of 20 small brass field
by retaining possession of the oppo- pieces.
fite thore, were at hand to profit With this body he arrived at
of that circumftance, whilst he was M'Kenky's Ferry, about nine
utterly incapable of opposing them miles above Trenton, at the time
in the field."
appointed, hoping to be able to To ward off this danger, he with pais the division and artillery over equal boldness and ability formed by midnight, and that it would a design to prevent the enemy, by then be no difficulty to reach that beating up their quarters; intend- place long before daylight, and ing to remedy the deficiency of effectually to surprize Rall's bri.
16] ANNUAL REGISTER, 1777.
gade. The river was, however, Knyphausen, found themselves un.
lo iacumbered with ice, that it was der the unfortunate neceflity of fure
with grear dificulty the boats could rendering prisoners of war.
make their way through, which, As the road along the river side
with the extreme severity of the to Bordentown led from that part
weather, retarded their passage so of Trenton most remove from the
much, that it was near four enemy, the light horse, challeurs.
o'clock before it was compleated. a considerable nomber of the pris
They were still equally delayed vate men, with some few officers,
and incommoded in the march by made their escape that way. It is
a violent form of snow and hail, allo said, that a number of the
which rendered the way so flippery, Heflians who had been out maraud.
that it was with difficulty they ing in the country, and according-
reached the place of destination by ly absent from their duty that
morning, found the same refuge,
The detachment had been form. whilft their crime was covered un-
ed in wo divisions immediately der the common misfortune.
upon pafling the river, one of The loss of the Hellians in killed
which turning to the right, took and wounded was very incongder-
the lower road to Trenton, whilft able, not exceeding 30 or 40 at
the ocher, with General Washing. the most; that on the other side
ton, proceeded along the upper, was too trilling to be mentioned;
or Pennington road. Notwith the whole number of prisoners
Atanding the delays they met, and amounted to g18. Thus was one
the advanced state of daylight, the part of General Washington's pro-
Hellians had no knowledge of their ject crowned with success; but the
approach, until an advanced post two others failed in the execution,
at some diftance from the town, the quantity of ice being so great,
was attacked by the upper division, that the divisions under Erwing
the lower, about the same time, and Cadwallader, found the river,
driving in the outguards on their where they directed their attempts,
lide. The regiment of Rall, hav- impassable. If this had not been
ing been derached to support the the case, and that the first, in pur-
picket which was first atracked, suance of his instructions, had been
was thrown into disorder by the able to have possefled the bridge
retreat of that party, and obliged over Trenton Creek, not one of
to rejoin the main body. Colonel those who made their way to Bor.
Rall now bravely charged the ene. dentown could have escaped. But
my, but being soon mortally if the design had taken effect in all
wounded, the troops were thrown its parts, and the three divisions
into dilorder after a short engage. had joined after the affair at Tren.
ment, and driven from their ar. ton, it seems probable that they
tillery, which consisted only of fix would have swept all the posts on
battalion brass field pieces. Thus the river before them.
overpowered, and nearly surround. As things were, General Wash
ed, after an ineffectual attempt to ington could not proceed any far:
retreat to Princetown, the three ther in the prosecution of his des
regiments of Rall, Lossberg, and fign. The force he had with him
was far from being able even to mand, were much diftinguished in
maintain its ground at Trenton, the hard service of the ensuing win.
there being a strong body of light ter campaign.
infantry within a few miles, at The iurprize at Trenton did not
Princetown, which by the junc- excite less amazement in the Bri-
tion of Donop's. brigade, or other ith and auxiliary quarters, than it
bodies from the nearest canton- did joy in those of she Americans.
ments, would have soon over- Blame was loolely scattered es ery
whelmed his little arroy. He ac- where. That three old etiablished
cordingly repassed the Delaware regiments, of a people who make
the same evening, carrying with war their profession, fouid lay
him the prisoners, who, with their down their arms to a ragged and
artillery and colours, afforded a undisciplined' militia, and that
day of new and joyful triumph at with scarcely any loss on cither
side, seemed an event of so extra.
This small success wonderfully ordinary a nature, that it gave full
raised the spirits of the Americans. scope to the operation of conjec-
It is an odd but a general dispo ture, Torpi ion, censure, and ma.
fition in mankind, to be much , lignity, as different tempers were
more afraid of those whom they differently affccled.
do not k ow, than of those with The General was blamed for
whom they are acquainted. Dif- laving to extensive a chain of can.
fetence of dress, of arms (though tonments ; Rall was condemned
less useful), of complexion, beard, for marching out of the town to
colour of the hair or eyes, with the meet the enemy; and the charac-
general manner, air, and counte- ter of the Hesians, in general, did
pance, have at different times had not rise in the opinion of their al.
furprising effects upon brave, dif- lies.
ciplined, and experienced armies. As to the first, the General had
The Hesians had hitherto been foreseen the objection, but he de-
very terrible to toe Americans, and pended upon he weakness of the
the taking of a whole brigade of enemy, ke good disp ficion of the
them prisoners, seemed so incredi. inhabitants, the considerable force
ble, that at the very time they were which was stationed in the ad.
marching into Philadelphia, peo- vanced ports, and was besides in-
ple were contending in different fluenced by a defire to cover and
parts of the town, that the whole protect the county of Monmouth,
flory was a fiâion, and indeed that where a great number of the people
it could not be true. The charm were well affected to the royal
was now, however, diffolved, and cause. It may be added, that per-
the Hellians were no longer terri- baps no line of cantonment, or
ble. In the mean time General polts can be contrived to compact
Wahington was reinforced by re- and secure, as not to admit the
véral regiments from Virginia'and possibility of an impression in some
Maryland, as well as with several one part, by a force much inferior
new bodies of the Pennsylvania to the aggregate power of the de-
militia, who, with those of that fenfive.
province already under his com With respect to Colonel Rall,'
so great, - Erwing che riven eltempts
Tren Be they Bolts on
if the charge againft him was well Lord Cornwallis march- ,
founded, his misconduct sprung ed immediately to attack
from an error which was general. the enemy, whom he found 777
ly prevalent among the officers and in a strong position, formed at the
men both of the British and Hel. back of Trenton Creek, being in
fian forces. The fact is, that from poflellion of the bridge and other
the successes of the preceding cam- passages, which were well covered
paign, and the vast superiority with artillery. After several kir-
which they perceived in themselves mishes in the approach, a cannon-
in every action, they had held the nade ensued on both sides, which
Americans in too great contempt continued until night. A brigade
both as men and as soldiers ; and of the British troops lay that night
were too apt to attribute those ad. at Maidenhead, six miles from
vantages to some extraordinary per- Trenton, and another upon its
sonal virtue and excellence, which march from Brunswick, confisting
were in reality derived from the of the 17th, the 40th, and 55th
concurrence of a number of other regiments, under the command of
and very different causes; from Lieutenant Colonel Mawhood, were
military skill, experience, and dif- at Princetown, about the same di-
cipline; from the superior excel. flance beyond Maidenhead.
lence of their small arms, artillery,” In this situation on both sides,
and of all other engines, furniture, General Washington, who was far
and supplies, necessary for war; from intending to risque a battle,
and fill more particularly, to a having taken the necessary precau-
better supply, and a more dexter- tion of keeping up the fires, and
ous and effective use of bayonets, every other appearance of fill oc-
which gave them a great fuperiori. cupying his camp, and leaving
ty over the Americans, who were small parties to go the rounds, and
poorly furnithed with this kind of guard the bridge ard the fords,
arms, and were by no means ex withdrew the rest of his forces in
pert in the use of them.
the dead of night, and with the The alarm now spread, induced most profound filence. They the British and auxiliary troops im- marched with such expedition tomediately to assemble, and Gene. wards Princetown, that though neral Grant, with the forces at they took a large circuit by AllensBrunswick and that quarter, to ad. town, partly to get clear of the vance speedily to Princetown ; Trenton, or Affumpink Creek, whilit Lord Cornwallis, who had and partly to avoid the brigade gone to New York in his way to which lay at Maidenhead, their England, found it necessary to de- van fell in at sunrise the next fer his voyage, and return post to morning with Colonel Mawhood, the defence of the Jerseys. They who had just begun bis march. were not now without an enemy to That officer not having the smallest encounter, for General Washing- idea of their force, the fogginess ton, encouraged by the reinforce- of the morning, or circumítances ments he had received, had again of the ground, preventing him palled the Delaware, and was with from seeing its extent, considered his whole force at Trenton. it only as the attempt of some fly
on, formed at the
Creek, being : bridge and other were well covering After several com proach, a cantor both sides, whic
ight. A brigade ps lay that nizko
fix miles from no: her upca itu afwick, conifing
40th, and 33 the command of I Mawhood, were
nout the same di
n on both fides,
ton, who was far
risque a battle, necessary precaaup the fires, and Fance of fill as.
, and leaving - the rounds, and e ar.d the forces
of his forces in -, and with tbe kilence. They expedition 10
that though scuit by Allealet clear of the empink Creek, Ed the brigade denhead, their nrise the next nel Mawhood, en bis march. ng the smallek the fogginets
circumitances erenting bim ni, considered t of fome fly.
ing party to interrupt his march, Americans had many more killed,
and having easily dispersed those among whom were some brave ofa
by whom he was first attacked, ficers, particularly a General Mer-
pólhed forwards without further cer, belonging to Virginia, who
apprehension. But in a little time, was much elteemed and lamented.
he' not only found that the 17th re. It cannot escape the observation
giment which he led, was attacked of any person iso has attended to
on all sides by a superior force, the circumitances of this war, that
but that it was also separated and the number nain on the side of the
cut off from the rest of the brigade, Americans, has in general greatly
whild he discovered, by the conti. exceeded thac in the royal army.
nued distant firing, that the 55th, Though every defect in military
which immediately followed, was kill, experience, judgment, con-
not in better circumstances.
duct, and mechanical habit, will
In this trying and dangerous in some degree account for this cir.
ftuation, the brave · commander, cumstance, yet perhaps it may be
and his equally brave regiment, more particularly attributed to the
have gained immortal honour. Af- imperfect loading of their piece
ter a violent conflict, and the in the hurry of action, than to any
greatest repeated exertions of cou- other cause ; a defect, of all others;
rage and discipline, they at length, the most fatal; the most difficult to
by dint of bayonet, forced their be remedied in a new army; and
way through the thickest ranks of to which even veterans are not suf.
the enemy, and pursued their march ficiently attentive. To this may
30 Maidenhead undisturbed. The also be added the various make of
55th regiment was little less presl- their small arms, which being pro-
ed, and finding it impossible to cured, as chance or opportunity
continue its march, with great re- favoured them, from remote and
folution made good its retreat, and different quarters, were equally
recorded by the way of Hillsborough different in size and bore, which
to Brunswick. The 40th regi- rendered their being fitted with
ment, wbich was still at Prince. bail upon any general scale imá
town when the action began, suf. practicable.
fered less than the others, and re. This active and unexpected
tired by another road to the fame movement, with ics spirited con-
place. The enemy acknowledged fequences, immediately recalled
chat nothing could exceed the gal. Lord Cornwallis from the Dela:
lant behaviour of the corps under ware, who was, not without rea.
fon, alarmed for the safety of the Though the number killed, con. troops and magazines at Bruns. fidering the nature and warmth wick. The Americans, ftill avoid. of the engagements, was not so ing a general action, and facisfied considerable as might have been with their present advantages, expected; yet, upon the whole, crossed the Millstone river, with, the three regiments suffered severe- out any further attempt. In a few ly; their loss in prisoners amount. days, however; they overrun East ing to about 200; the killed and Jersey as well as the Wett, for adwounded were much fewer. The ing themselves over the Rariton