IntroductionIn early December of 1776 things looked bad for the American colonist in their fight for independence from Great Britain during the American Revolutionary War. In fact they had lost one battle after another and were forced to abandon New York City and retreat through New Jersey into Pennsylvania. The morale of the Continental Army was low and it seemed the short lived rebellion of the American colonist would soon be over. General George Washington, the commander of the Continental Army, was not the type of commander to give up easily. He devised a plan to launch a surprise attack against the enemy which would result in the Battle of Trenton. Every kid in America who has ever taken a U.S. history class has learned how this battle gave renewed hope to the Americans in their struggle for independence. The list of facts below provides both basic facts and interesting information about the Battle of Trenton; including how the Americans won.
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Basic Battle of Trenton Facts
- The battle was fought on the morning of December 26, 1776.
- The Battle of Trenton was won by the American forces.
- The battle pitted approximately 2,400 soldiers of the Continental Army, commanded by George Washington, up against about 1,400 Hessian soldiers commanded by Colonel Johann Rall. Hessian soldiers are paid German soldiers hired by the British government.
- The Americans attacked the Hessian soldiers garrisoned in what was then the small town of Trenton New Jersey.
- The surprise attack was made possible due to General Washington's famous crossing of the Delaware River a few miles north of Trenton, New Jersey under extremely adverse weather conditions. This event was immortalized by the famous painting Washington Crossing the Delaware painted by Emanuel Leutze.
- The Hessian casualties were 22 killed and 83 wounded. Over 1,000 Hessians were captured.
- The American colonist casualties were only 2 killed and 5 wounded in the battle; however many died in the days following the battle due to illness brought on by exposure and exhaustion.
- The other Continental Army commanders, serving under Washington at the Battle of Trenton, were Major General Nathanael Greene, Major General John Sullivan, and Brigadier General Henry Knox.
Interesting Battle of Trenton Facts
- The city of Trenton was not fortified thus leaving the Hessians vulnerable to attack. In fact the Hessian commander Rall did not take the advice of several of his officers to fortify the town.
- The Hessians were warned of an imminent attack but had let their guard down on the night of the battle believing the cold and icy weather conditions would make an attack impossible.
- The Hessian forces were caught off guard and were completely surrounded; after a short battle they surrendered.
- The Hessian commander, Colonel Rall, was fatally wounded during the battle and died later that day.
- All four Hessian colonels involved in this American Revolutionary War battle were killed.
- An interesting fact about this battle is that future president James Monroe fought in it and received a near fatal wound.
- General Washington had hoped to move on from Trenton and attack Princeton and New Brunswick both in New Jersey; however his troops exhausted and with reinforcements unable to join them he took his army back into Pennsylvania.