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George Washington at the Battle of Trenton

Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven


An eye witness to the Battle of Trenton noted:

“It was determined, some days ago, that our army should pass over to Jersey, in three different places, and attack the enemy. Accordingly about two thousand five hundred men, and twenty brass field-pieces, with his Excellency Gen. Washington at their head, and Majors Gens. Sullivan and Green, in command of two divisions, passed over on the night of Christmas, and about three o’clock, A.M. were on their march, by two routs, towards Trenton. The night was sleety, and the roads so slippery that it was day break when we were two miles from Trenton. But happily the enemy were not apprised of our design, and our advanced party were on their guards at half a mile from the town, when Gen. Sullivan’s and Gen. Green’s divisions soon came into the same road. Their guard gave our advanced party several smart fires, as we drove them...The enemy, consisting of about fifteen hundred Hessians [Germans], under Col Rohl, formed and made some smart fires from musketry and six fieldpieces, but our people pressed from every quarter, and drove them from their cannon. They retreated towards a field behind a piece of wood up the creek, from Trenton, and formed in tow bodies, which I expected would have brought on a smart engagement from the troops, who had formed very near them, but at that instant, as I came in full view of them, from the back of the wood, with his Excellency General Washington, an officer informed him that the party had grounded their arms, and surrendered prisoners.”

Letter dated 27 December 1776 from G. Bickham; excerpted in G. Bickham, “Contemporaneous Account of the Battle of Trenton,” The Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography, vol. 10, no. 2 (July 1886): 203.

About the Artist

Born: Lebanon, CT, 6 June 1756
Died: New York, 10 November 1843
Nationality: American