Sketch by John Trumbull
~ The Battle of Princeton 1777 ~
X – The Death of General Hugh Mercer – X
George Washington en Route to Princeton:
On January 2, 1777, General Cornwallis marched the British Army from Princeton, New Jersey, to Trenton New Jersey where Washington was encamped with the Continental Army. General Cornwallis’ intent was to capture the American army by nightfall the following day. Washington knew his tactical position was perilous. His choices were very limited. He knew it was crazy to fight against the overwhelming number British forces, and it was also futile to re-cross the Delaware. So, he decided to stealthily march onto Princeton to somehow gain the rear of Cornwallis troops during the night. Washington also realized that the British were keeping tabs on his position. So, to outwit the British, Washington left camp fires burning in the extreme cold. Undiscovered by the British, he and marched his army at midnight and reached Princeton before sunrise on January 3rd 1777. Commanding the British rear forces was Colonel Mawhood, who had just begun his march his troops to join General Cornwallis in Trenton. Mawhood, surprisingly discovered by scouts that General Mercer’s American army was approaching fast. Time was at the utmost before a sharp unintended and unplanned engagement took place. Meanwhile the British army at Trenton were surprised to find that Washington’s troops had escaped! In bewilderment, General Cornwallis hastened his troops immediately toward Princeton when he heard cannonading in the distance. Outsmarted by Washington!
Trumbull’s depiction of the Battle of Princeton in 1777, in which Mercer was killed. George Washington is the figure on the horse.