The Winter Soldiers: The Battles for Trenton and Princeton by Richard M. KetchumIn the fall of 1776 the British delivered a crushing blow. New York fell and the anguished retreat through New Jersey followed. Winter came with a vengeance, bringing what Thomas Paine called “the times that try men’s souls.”
The Winter Soldiers is the story of a small band of men held together by George Washington in the face of disaster and hopelessness, desperately needing at least one victory to salvage both cause and country. It is a tale of unimaginable hardship and suffering that culminated in the battles of Trenton and Princeton. Without these triumphs, the rebellion that had begun so bravely could not have gone on.
Born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Richard M. Ketchum graduated from Yale Unviersity and commanded a subchaser in the South Atlantic during World War II. As director of book publishing at American Heritage Publishing Company for twenty years, he edited many of that firm’s volumes, including The American Heritage Book of the Revolution and The American Heritage Picture History of the Civil War, which received a Pulitzer Prize Special Citation. Ketcham was the cofounder and editor of Blair & Ketcham’s Country Journal, a monthly magazine about rural life. He and his wife live on a sheep farm in Vermont. He is the author of two other Revolutionary War classics: Decisive Day and The Winter Soldiers.
American Revolution: Battle of Princeton
After crossing the Delaware on December 25, , George Washington embarked on a ten day campaign that would change the course of the war. Culminating at the Battle of Princeton on January 3, , Washington snatched victory from the jaws of defeat and proved his amateur army could defeat the British. The Battle of Princeton was a classic meeting engagement, both sides stumbled into one another, and neither expected to fight on the ground where the battle raged. Initially, the British commander Charles Mawhood, marched his force south towards Trenton to meet the main British army, when he spotted the American column. Washington had stolen a march on Charles Lord Cornwallis , slipping away from the British forces along Assunpink Creek the night before. Mercer ran headlong into the 17th Foot, firmly stationed behind a fence at the end of Clarke's orchard. With the outnumbered British on the verge of splitting his army, Washington quickly detached John Cadwalader's Philadelphia Associatiors to plug the gap.
To the American Revolutionary War index. The British wore red coats, with bearskin caps for the grenadiers, tricorne hats for the battalion companies and caps for the light infantry. The Highland Scots troops wore the kilt and feather bonnet. The two regiments of light dragoons serving in America, the 16th and 17th, wore red coats and crested leather helmets. The Americans dressed as best they could. Increasingly as the war progressed infantry regiments of the Continental Army wore blue uniform coats, but the militia continued in rough clothing. Both sides were armed with muskets.
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In a stroke of strategic genius, General George Washington manages to evade conflict with General Charles Cornwallis , who had been dispatched to Trenton to bag the fox Washington , and wins several encounters with the British rear guard, as it departs Princeton for Trenton, New Jersey. Washington knew better than to engage such a force and Cornwallis knew Washington would try to escape overnight, but he was left to guess at what course Washington would take. Cornwallis sent troops to guard the Delaware River, expecting Washington to reverse the route he took for the midnight crossing on December As the Continentals headed north at dawn, they met the straggling British rear guard, which they outnumbered 5 to 1. Forty Patriots and British soldiers died during ensuing Battle of Princeton.
The American victory at the Battle of Princeton January 3, was one of the most consequential of the American Revolution. George Washington and his soldiers marched north from Trenton and attacked a British force south of the town. Washington's victory bolstered American morale and provided great confidence to his soldiers. George Washington and his senior officers were filled with a sense of dread. The fact that the British had discovered a ford that led to the vulnerable American right flank made the American position on the Assunpink Creek near Trenton all the more dangerous. Rather than risk defeat in Trenton, Washington, in collaboration with his senior officers, agreed upon a bold and dangerous plan.
The following feature originally appeared in the Dec. In the afternoon the rains came on, and the roads turned into bogs of red mud. The yard in front of Nassau Hall was churned by the hooves of horses, the iron rims of fieldpieces, the feet of British soldiers. Regiment upon regiment had poured into the village during the previous 48 hours, and more still arrived, marching through heavy mire down the Post Road from New York and New Brunswick. By the end of the day some 10, British troops were assembled in and about the little college town: green-coated German jaegers armed with hunting rifles, the Black Watch regiment of Highlanders in kilts, blue-coated Hessian grenadiers with upswept moustaches, elite corps of light infantry and dragoons, and, above all, thousands of scarlet-coated foot soldiers. Well-trained and well-disciplined, they represented a third of the largest expeditionary force England had ever raised. The first year of the American rebellion had not gone well for the British.