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14 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 poft wich the royal army occupied point; and by attacking unex. upon that river. Colonel Donofpetiedly and separately chole bowith another brigade, Jay at Bore dies which he cculd not venture to dentown, a few miles lower down encounter if united. If the design the river; and at Burlington, sucietded only in pari, it might, ftill lower and within twenty however, induce the enemy to conmiles of Philadelphia, a third tract their cantonmenis, and to body was posted. 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, infult 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 perfect a ftate of ject of his attention, security, as if they had been upon For this purpose, General Washgarrisoo duty in their own coun- ington took the necessary meatures try, in a time of the profoundet for assembling his forces (which peace. It is said, and leems pro. confilted mostly of drafts from the bable, that this supposed security, militia of Pensylvania and Virgiincreased that licence and laxity of nia) in three divifions, each of discipline, of which we have before which was to arrive at its appointed taken notice, and produced an in- ftation on the Delaware, as soon attention to the posibility of a after dark, and with as little noise, furprize, which no success of fitua- as possible, on the night of Christ. tion can justify in the vicinity of mas-day. Two of these divilions an enemy, however weak or con- were under the command of the teinprible.
Generals Erwing and CadwallaThese circumstances, 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 Bordenthese, be fully saw and compre- town. The principal body was hended the danger to which Phila- commanded by Mr. Washington delphis and the whole province in person, afiiled by the Generals would be inevitably exp: sed, as Sullivan and Green, and confitted 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 poffefion of the oppo- pieces. fite fhore, were at hand to profit With this body he arrived at of that circumstance, whilft he was M‘Kenky's Ferry, about nine Otterly incapable of oppoing 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 boldoels 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 furprize Rall's bri
gade. The river was, however, Knyphausen, found themselves un.
four enemy, the light horse, chasseurs, o'clock before it was compleated. a considerable nomber of the prio They were ftill 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, also said, that a number of the which rendered the way fo lippery. Heffians 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 eight o'clock.
morning, found the same refuge, The detachment had been form. whilft their crime was covered una 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 inconliderthe lower road to Trenton, whilft able, not exceeding 30 or 40 at the other, with General Washing- the most ; that on the other side ton, proceeded along the upper, was too trifling to be mentioned ; or Pennington road. Notwith the whole number of prisoners Atanding the delays they met, and amounted to 918. Thus was one the advanced state of daylight, the part of General Washington's proHesians had no knowledge of their ject crowned with fuccels; but the approach, until an advanced post two others failed in the execution, ai fome 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, fide. The regiment of Rall, hav- impassable. If this had not been ing been derached to support the the case, and that the first, in purpicket which was first atracked, suance of his instructions, had beca was thrown into disorder by the able to have poffefled 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 Bors Rall now bravely charged the ene. dentown could have escaped. But my, but being
being foon 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 Trenment, 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 distinguished in maintain its ground at Trenton, the hard service of the eniuing winthere being à Itrong 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 Brition of Donop's brigade, or other cith and auxiliary quarters, than it bodies from the nearest canton- did joy in those of the Americans. ments, would have foon
Blame was loolely scattered ei ery whelmed his little army. He ac- where That three old eliablished cordingly repassed the Delaware regiments, of a people who make the fame evening, carrying with war their profeffion, should lay bin 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 Philadelphia.
side, seemed an event of fo extra. This small success wonderfully ordinary a nature, that it gave full raised the spirits of the Americans. scope to the operation of conjecIt is an odd but a general dispo. ture, fufpicion, censure, and mafition in mankind, to be much lignity, as different tempers were more afraid of those whom they differently aficdied. do not k ow, than of those with The General was blamed for whom they aré acquainted. Dif- laving so extensive a chain of can. fetence of dress, of arms (though tunmeits ; 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 characgeneral manner, air, and counte- ter of the Hessians, in general, did nance, have at different times had
not rise in the opinion of their alSurprising effects upon brave, dif- lies. ciplined, and experienced armies. As to the first, the General had The Hellians had hitherto been foreseen the objection, but he devery terrible to toe Americans ; and pended upon he weakness of the the taking of a whole brigade of enemy, te good disp fision of the them prisoners, seemed so incredi- inhabi ants, the confiderable force ble, that at the very time they were which was ftationed in the admarching into Philadelphia, peg- vanced poils, and was besides inple were contending in different fiuenced by a desire to cover and parts of the town, that the whole protect the county of Monmouth, Hory was a fiction, and indeed that where a great number of the people is could not be true. The charm were well aff-eted to the royal was now, however, diffolved, and cause. It may be added, that perthe Hessians were no longer terri. haps no line of cantonments or ble. In the mean time General poits can be contrived to compact Washington was reinforced by fe- and secure, as not to admit the veral regiments from Virginia' and possibility of an impression in fome Maryland, as well as with several one part, by a force much inferior new bodies of the Pennsylvania to the aggregate power of the demilitia, who, with those of that fentive. province already under his com- With respect to Colonel Rall, VOL. XX.
if the charge against him was well Lord Cornwallis marchfounded, his misconduct sprung ed immediately to attack Jan. 2. from an error which was general the enemy, whom he found 1777. ly prevalent among the officers and in a frong position, formed at the men both of the British and Hel. back of Trenton Creek, being in fian forces. The fact is, that from poflession of the bridge and other the successes of the preceding cam- passages, which were well covered paign, and the valt superiority with artillery. After several kirwhich they perceived in themselves milhes in the approach, a cannonin 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, fix miles from vantages to some extraordinary per- Trenton, and another upon its sonal virtue and excellence, which march from Brunswick, consifting 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 dicipline; from the superior excel. stance 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 ocwhich 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 ar.d the fords, arms, and were by no means ex- withdrew the relt of his forces in pert in the use of them.
the dead of night, and with the The alarm now (pread, induced most profound filence. They the British and auxiliary troops im- marched with such expedition tomediately to affemble, 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,
Trenton, or Affumpink Creek, whilst 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 Walhing- idea of their force, the fogginess ton, encouraged by the reinforce of the morning, or circumitances ments he had received, had again of the ground, preventing, bim palled the Delaware, and was with from secing its extent, confidered his whole force at Trenton. it only as the attempt of some flying party to interrupt bis march, Americans had many more killed, and having easily dispersed those among whom were some brave of by whom he was first attacked, ficers, particularly a General Merpuhed forwards without further cer, belonging to Virginia, who apprehension. But in a little time, was much efteemed and lamented. he not only found that the 17th re- It cannot escape the observation giment which he led, was attacked of any person who has attended to on all fides by a superior force, the circumitances of this war, thac 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 whilft he discovered, by the conti. exceeded that in the royal army. nued distant firing, that the 55th, Though every defect in military which immediately followed, was kill, experience, judgment, connot in better circumstances. duct, and mechanical habit, wilt
In this trying and dangerous in some degree account for this cire fituation, 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 adion, 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 thickeft ranks of to which even veterans are not suf. the enemy, and pursued their march ficiently attentive. to Maidenhead undifturbed. The also be added the various make of 55th regiment was little less presltheir small arms, which being proed, and finding it impossible to cured, as chance or opportunity continue its march, with great re- favoured them, from remote and folation made good its retreat, and different quarters, were equally returned by the way of Hillsborough different in size and bore, which to Brunswick. The 40th regi. rendered their being fitted with ment, which was ftill at Prince. ball upon any general scale imá town when the action began, fuf. practicable. fered less than the others, and re- This active and unexpected tired by another road to the fame movement, with its fpirited conplace. The enemy acknowledged sequences, immediately recalled that nothing could'exceed the gal. Lord Cornwallis from the Delalant behaviour of the corps under ware, who was, not without reaMarhood.
fon, alarmed for the safety of the Though the number killed, con- troops and magazines at Brunfo fidering the nature and warmth wick. The Americans, ftill avoid of the engagements, was not so ing a general action, and fatisfied confiderable as might have been with their present advantages, expected; yet, upon the whole, crossed the Millitone river, withia the three regiments suffered severe- out any further attempt. In a few ly; their lors in prisoners amount- days, however, they overran Eaft ing to about 200; the killed and Jersey as well as the Wett, spradwoxaded were much fewer. The ing themselves over the Rariton ;
To this may