Lossing's Field Book of the Revolution, Vol. II., Chapter I.







Perth Amboy. – Its original Settlement and Prospects. – Governor William Franklin. – Dunlap’s Recollection of military Affairs at Perth Amboy. – Journey to Crosswicks. – Missionary Operations there. – Skirmish at Crosswicks. – The Friends’ Meeting-house. – Mrs. Idell. – Bordentown. – Revolutionary Events at Bordentown. – Joseph Bonaparte. – General Dickinson. – Trenton. – M‘Conkey’s Ferry, where Washington crossed the Delaware. – Long Bridge. – Capture of Forts Washington and Lee. – Retreat of the Americans across New Jersey. – Decrease of the Army. – Tardy Movements of General Lee. – Capture of General Lee. – Longevity of the Captor’s Horse. – Biography of Lee. – His Division commanded by Sullivan. – The Delaware between Washington and Cornwallis. – Weakness of the American Army. – Gloomy Aspect of Affairs. – Putnam in Command at Philadelphia. – Reorganization of the Army. – Adjournment of Congress to Baltimore. – The Quakers. – Howe’s Plans. – Injudicious Disposition of the British Troops. – Augmentation of Washington’s Forces. – Successful Diversion, by Putnam, in favor of Washington. – The American Army cross the Delaware on Christmas Night. – The Battle in Trenton. – Colonel Rall mortally Wounded. – Capture of the Hessians. – Complete Victory of the Americans. – Washington’s Visit to the dying Rall. – Parole of Honor signed by the Hessian Officers. – Colonel Rall’s fatal Carousal. – Names and Signatures of the Hessian Officers attached to the Parole. – Retreat of the Enemy from Bordentown. – Their Line of Posts broken up. – Good Effect of the Victory at Trenton. – Washington made a military Dictator. – He Re-crosses the Delaware to Occupy Trenton. – Efficient Aid by Robert Morris. – Approach of Cornwallis toward Trenton. – Battles at Trenton Bridge and the Ford. – The Americans in Peril. – Cornwallis Out-generaled. – March of the Americans toward Princeton. – Their Approach discovered by the Enemy. – First Skirmish near Princeton. – Effect of British Bayonets. – Dispersion of the Americans. – Washington on the Field. – General Mercer mortally Wounded by Bayonets. – His Bravery till the Last. – Place of his Death. – View of the Battle-ground. – Loss of the Americans. – Death of General Mercer. – His Monument. – Skirmish near Nassau Hall in Princeton. – Destruction of the King’s Portrait in Nassau Hall. – Prisoners taken. – Skirmish at Worth’s Mills. – Cornwallis at Princeton. – Disappointment of the Enemy. – The Loss sustained. – Washington’s Pursuit. – Fatigue of the Americans. – Capture of British Baggage-wagons. – Evacuation of New Jersey by the British. – Estimate of Washington’s Character in Europe. – Appointment of general Officers for the Continental Army. – Its Reorganization. – Visit to the Princeton Battle-ground. – Morven, Stockton’s Estate. – Desolated by the British. – Sufferings and Death of the Owner. – Annis Stockton. – Nassau Hall. – Governor Belcher’s Donation. – Rittenhouse’s Planetarium. – Life of its Inventor. – Portraits of Washington and Mercer by Peale. – Character of the College of New Jersey. – White Hall. – The Floral Arch in Honor of Washington. – His triumphal Journey. – Washington’s Reception by the Ladies of Trenton. – Inscription on Armstrong’s Monument. – Letter of a Hessian Prince.


"Thou desolate and dying year!

Prophetic of our final fall;
Thy buds are gone, thy leaves are sere,
Thy beauties shrouded in the pall;
And all the garniture that shed
A brilliancy upon thy prime,
Hath like a morning vision fled
Unto the expanded grave of time."


On the 22d of November, 1848, I left New York to visit the Southern portions of the old Thirteen States, made memorable by the events of the War for Independence. Aware of the lack of public facilities for travel below the Potomac, and not doubting that many of the localities which I intended to visit were far distant from public highways, I resolved to journey with my own conveyance, with an independence and thoroughness not vouchsafed by steam or stage-drivers. I purchased a strong, good-natured horse, harnessed him to a light dearborn wagon, stowed my luggage under the seat, and, taking the reins, on a bright and balmy afternoon departed on a drive of nearly fourteen hundred miles. The wisdom of my resolve was a hundred times made manifest, for, in some portions of the South, horse, mule, or ox could not have been procured to convey me to places of interest, lying scores of miles apart, and scores of miles away from stage-routes. It was a lonely journey; sometimes among mountains, sometimes through swamps, sometimes through vast pine forests and over sandy plains, and sometimes amid the most interesting natural scenery, even in mid-winter. It was to me a journey of great interest; and the dreary days passed in riding from one hallowed locality to another, after leaving the Appomattox, were all forgotten when sitting down, pencil in hand, in the midst of some arena consecrated by patriotism and love of country. Then glorious associations would crowd thickly upon the memory, weariness and privations would be forgotten, and the truthful heart would chant,

"Great God! we thank thee for this home –

This bounteous birth-land of the free;
Where wanderers from afar may come
And breathe the air of liberty!
Still may her flowers untrampled spring,
Her harvests wave, her cities rise;
And yet, till Time shall fold his wing,
Remain earth’s loveliest paradise!"

In succeeding pages I shall endeavor to impart to my readers some of the pleasures and profits of this Southern journey, extended, after leaving my horse and wagon at Camden, in South Carolina, to nearly fourteen hundred miles further.

I left New York at three o’clock in the afternoon in the steam-boat Transport, of the Camden and Amboy Rail-road Company. We passed out at the Narrows at four o’clock between Forts Hamilton and La Fayette, and, traversing Raritan Bay, on the southeast side of Staten Island, reached South Amboy at twilight, where I remained until morning. This little village is situated upon the bay, at the mouth of the Raritan, and is the terminus of the rail-way from Philadelphia. On the north side of the Raritan is Perth Amboy, 1 a pleasant place, a port of entry, and a locality of considerable historic interest. It is about twenty-five miles from New York, and ten from New Brunswick; the latter lies at the head of steam-boat navigation on the Raritan. Upon this point the first proprietors of New Jersey intended to build a city. "If the Lord permit," they said, in their published account of the beauty and fertility of that region, "we intend, with all convenient speed, to erect and build our principal town, which, by reason of situation, must, in all probability, be the most considerable for merchandise, trade, and fishing in those parts. It is designed to be placed upon a neck or point of land called Ambo Point, lying on Raritan River, and pointing to Sandy Hook Bay, and near adjacent to the place where ships in that great harbor commonly ride at anchor." It was called "a sweet, wholesome, and delightful place;" and William Penn said, on taking a view of the land, "I have never seen such before in my life." The town was laid out into one hundred and fifty lots, many buildings were erected, and for a time it was the commercial rival of New York. A city charter was obtained for it in 1718. William Eier was the first mayor, and James Alexander – the father of Lord Stirling, of the Continental army – was the first recorder. Barracks for soldiers were built there in 1758-9, and were first occupied by the English troops on their return from Havana in 1761.

Perth Amboy was the place of residence of Governor Franklin when the Revolution broke out, and was the scene of many stirring events during that war. 2 It was in possession of the British much of the time; and one of the many pictures of life of varied hue there presented, is given by William Dunlap (who was born there), in his History of the Arts of Design. "Here were centered," he says, "in addition to those cantoned in the places all those [troops] drawn in from the Delaware, Princeton, and Brunswick; and the flower and pick of the army, English, Scotch, and German, who had at that time been brought in from Rhode Island. Here was to be seen a party of forty-second Highlanders, in national costume, and there a regiment of Hessians, their dress and arms a perfect contrast to the first. The slaves of Anspach and Waldeck were there – the first somber as night, the second gaudy as noon. Here dashed by a party of the seventeenth dragoons, and there scampered a party of Yagers. The trim, neat, and graceful English grenadier; the careless and half-savage Highlander, with his flowing robes and naked knees, and the immovably stiff German, could hardly be taken for parts of one army. Here might be seen soldiers driving in cattle, and others guarding wagons loaded with household furniture, instead of the hay and oats they had been sent for.

"The landing of the grenadiers and light infantry from the ships which transplanted the troops from Rhode Island; their proud march into the hostile neighborhood, to gather the produce of the farmer for the garrison; the sound of the musketry, which soon rolled back upon us; the return of the disabled veterans who could retrace their steps, and the heavy march of the discomfited troops, with their wagons of groaning wounded, in the evening, are all impressed on my mind as pictures of the evils and the soul-stirring scenes of war. These lessons, and others more disgusting, were my sources of instruction in the winter of 1776-7." 3

I left Amboy for Trenton, by the way of Crosswicks, before sunrise the next morning [November 23, 1848.]. The air was clear and frosty; the pools by the road side were skimmed with ice, and fields and fences were white with hoar frost. The deep sand of the road made the traveling heavy, yet, before the sun was fairly up, my strong horse had taken me half the way to Spottswood, ten miles distant. I passed through Spottswood, Old Bridge, Hightstown, and Cranberry, to Allentown, twenty-eight miles from Amboy, where I dined. These villages have a neat and thrifty appearance. Over the level, sandy country through which the road passes, extensive peach orchards are spread out, covering hundreds of acres. Crosswicks, 4 the scene of some stirring events in the Revolution, is situated upon a ridge on the left bank of Crosswicks Creek, four miles from Allentown, and the same distance from the Delaware River. The creek is in a deep ravine, here spanned by a fine latticed bridge, erected upon the site of the old one of the Revolution. It was settled by the Quakers in 1681, and was a place of sufficient importance in colonial times to be once a meeting-place of the Provincial Assembly [1748.]. Among the Indians at Crossweeksung, Brainerd and Tennant labored successfully, 5 and the influence of the Quakers upon that tribe was sensibly felt. Here a small detachment of the American army was stationed after the first engagement at Trenton, where the Hessians were captured; and here one division of the British troops, marching from Philadelphia toward Monmouth, in June, 1778, were pretty severely handled by a party of Americans. The troops of the enemy marched in three divisions from Philadelphia: one by Mount Holly, one through Columbus, and the third by Bordentown, on the Delaware, near the mouth of Crosswicks Creek. Near the latter place was a draw-bridge, and as the British attempted to repair it for the purpose of crossing, the militia regiments of Colonels Frelinghuysen, 6 Van Dyke, and Webster, stationed near, rushed upon them, killed four and wounded several. The enemy left the bridge at Bordentown, and, marching up to Crosswicks, attempted to repair the bridge there, which the Americans had almost destroyed. 7 The alert provincials were ready to receive them; and from their station on the Woodwardsville side of the creek, they poured upon the Britons volleys of musketry, which, with a well-aimed shot occasionally from an old six-pounder, effectually kept them at bay. Being re-enforced the next day, the enemy repaired the bridge, crossed it, and pursued their march toward Allentown. During the skirmish, one of the cannon-balls fired by the Americans struck the north wall of the meeting-house and lodged therein, where it remained until the building was repaired a few years ago. The hole made by the ball is yet visible; the dark spot between the sills of the two upper windows, on the right of the picture, marks the place.


The American troops at Crosswicks, after the battle of Trenton, used the meeting-house for barracks; yet, unlike the British soldiers who occupied churches for a similar purpose, they neither defaced the building, nor disturbed the society in their public religious duties. Every Wednesday and Sunday the soldiers withdrew, the benches were properly arranged, and worship was held as usual.

During my brief tarry of an hour and a half at Crosswicks, I visited the venerable Mrs. Idell, who was eighty-three years old. She clearly remembered the advent of the Americans there, after the battle of Trenton. She lived with her brother, two or three miles from the meeting-house. Twelve American officers, on horseback, took possession of his house while himself and family were in meeting. The parlor was filled with equestrian accouterments, and she and two other children "almost lost their wits by fright." The old lady was strong in mind but feeble in body when I saw her, yet she was able to sit in their plain old house of worship every meeting-day.

I left Crosswicks at four o’clock, and arrived at Trenton at sunset. It was a pleasant drive of eight miles through a fertile country; the well-filled barns and barracks, and the numerous haystacks, denoting bountiful harvests. I passed a little northward of Bordentown, and had an occasional glimpse of its spires above the brown tree-tops. As we may not, in the course of our journey, approach so near this pleasant village again, let us slacken our pace a little as we go over the crown of the hill, from whence the vane of the Episcopal church is visible, and consider its Revolutionary history.

Bordentown is "a city upon a hill," and "can not be hid." It is at the elbow of the Delaware River, seven miles below Trenton, and from the brow of the eminence on which it stands there is an extensive view of that noble stream and the surrounding country. It derives its name from Joseph Borden, an early settler. Here both the Americans and British had military stores; and hither both parties, at different times, dispatched small detachments to surprise and capture, or destroy them. Here a strong body of Hessians, under Count Donop, was stationed at the time of the battle at Trenton. One of the several expeditions sent out from Philadelphia by the enemy, in the spring of 1778, was for the purpose of destroying vessels which were lying in Barnes’s and Crosswicks Creeks at this place. Six or seven hundred troops left Philadelphia about ten in the evening on the 7th of May, and went up the Delaware in a flotilla consisting of two row-galleys, three other armed vessels, and twenty-four flat-bottomed boats. They had fair winds for ten miles of the way, 9 when a calm ensued, and they were obliged to row the remainder of the distance. They expected to reach Bordentown and perform their destructive work before dawn, but they did not arrive there until late in the forenoon. Before landing, they burned two frigates at the White Hills, a little below the village, and afterward destroyed several smaller vessels. They landed without much opposition, burned the residence of Joseph Borden, committed some petty malicious trespasses, and then re-embarked. The next day they proceeded up the river as far as Bile’s Island, intending to make a descent upon Trenton; but General Dickinson, 10 and the troops under his command, gave them such a warm reception, that they hastily turned their prows southward. On their way down they landed at Colonel Kirkbride’s farm, on the Pennsylvania side, burned his buildings, and seized considerable property. A party of militia, whom General Dickinson sent down the river, succeeded in capturing a sloop which the enemy had filled with plunder, and took prisoners six men who were on board. The marauders returned to Philadelphia with very little booty, and not a particle of glory. 11

At Bordentown, from 1816 until 1842, Joseph Bonaparte, the ex-king of Spain, and brother of Napoleon, resided. His park and grounds comprised about fifteen hundred acres of land, which his taste and well-directed expenditure of money redeemed from almost barrenness, and made beautiful. His mansion was enriched with the most exquisite works of art in painting and sculpture, for the gratification of himself and friends; and while he was ever willing to display these for the pleasure of the poor, his hand was open to their wants.

The sun was vailed, at its setting, when I arrived at Trenton, 12 by an ominous red vapor that betokened a storm. True to the "sign," the morning following was lowery, and a chilly east wind made sketching in the open air any thing but pleasant. I was busy with my pencil until the rain began to fall at noon. At two o’clock the sun peeped out for a moment, and smiled so pleasantly (yet deceptively) that I ordered my horse, and, accompanied by the Honorable G. W. Smyth, of Belvidere, started for M‘Conkey’s Ferry (now Taylorsville), eight miles above Trenton, the place where

"On Christmas day, in seventy-six,
Our gallant troops, with bayonets fixed,

To Trenton marched away,"

and, with Washington, crossed the Delaware, on the memorable night of that festival. We had ridden scarcely a mile before the rain came pattering down upon our wagon-top, and when we returned at evening the storm had increased in violence to that of a drenching summer shower. The road passes along the bank of the Delaware, and on a bright summer day it must be one of the pleasantest drives imaginable. There are several beautiful country-seats on the way, with grounds tastefully laid out and shaded. Two miles from Trenton is the State Lunatic Asylum, an immense building, having nine quadrangles, and presenting a front of four hundred and eighty feet. The feeder for the Delaware and Hudson Canal, and the artificial channel made along the river bank for the production of water power at Trenton, are crossed and paralleled by the road all the way to Yardleyville, between which and Taylorsville the great dam constructed to supply these streams stretches across the Delaware. Taylorsville is on the Pennsylvania side, at M‘Conkey’s Ferry. A noble bridge, six hundred feet long, here spans the river. It is supported by eight piers, eighteen feet above the water when the stream has its usual depth. The bridge is of timber, the piers of solid masonry, with an icebreaker on the upper side. The view here given is from below the bridge on the Pennsylvania side, looking northeast, and exhibits the Jersey shore at the precise point where the American army landed, an event which we shall consider presently. Mr. Taylor, an old resident of the place, pointed out the spot, on each side of the river, where a log-house stood at the time. The one on the Pennsylvania side was upon the site of the Temperance House, in Taylorsville; that upon the Jersey shore was exactly at the end of the bridge.


It was very dark when we reached Trenton in the midst of the storm. With the feelings of the silly mortal who thought a brook would soon run dry because the stream was so swift, I hoped for a bright morning because the rain came down deluge-like. Let us turn from the present and commune an hour with the past.

Fort Washington, on the east bank of the Hudson, near New York city, fell into the hands of the enemy on the 16th of November, 1776, and the garrison of nearly three thousand men became prisoners of war. The skirmish at White Plains had recently occurred [October 28, 1776.], and Washington, penetrating the design of the enemy to pass into New Jersey and march to the capture of Philadelphia, had already crossed the Hudson with the main body of the American army, after securing some positions on the east bank, between Kingsbridge and the Highlands. He encamped at Hackensack, in the rear of Fort Lee where General Greene was in command. Lord Cornwallis crossed the Hudson at Dobbs’s Ferry, with six thousand men, on the 20th [November, 1776.], and landing at Closter, a mile and a half from English Neighborhood, proceeded to attack Fort Lee. The garrison made a hasty retreat, and joined the main army at Hackensack, five miles distant. All the baggage and military stores at Fort Lee fell into the hands of the enemy. It was an easy conquest for Cornwallis; and had he followed up this successful beginning with energy, there is every probability that he would have captured Washington and his army. The latter commenced a retreat toward the Delaware when Cornwallis approached, hoping to be sufficiently re-enforced by the New Jersey and Pennsylvania militia to be enabled to make a successful stand against the invaders at some intermediate point. But late reverses had dispirited the militia, and Washington found his army diminishing at every step rather than augmenting. By the last of November scarcely three thousand troops remained in the American army. For three weeks he fled before Cornwallis across the level districts of New Jersey. Newark, New Brunswick, Princeton, and Trenton were successively evacuated by the Americans and occupied by the enemy. Often the music of the pursued and the pursuers would be heard by each other, yet no action occurred. Arrived at Trenton, on the 2d of December Washington and his army crossed the Delaware in boats. The last one had reached the Pennsylvania shore just as one division of Cornwallis’s army, with all the pomp of victors, marched into Trenton. This was about twelve o’clock at night. The British commander, with the main body of the troops, halted within six miles of Trenton.

Washington had hoped to make a stand at New Brunswick, but was disappointed. The service of the Jersey and Maryland brigades expired on the day he left that place, and neither of them would remain longer with the army. General Lee had been left at White Plains in command of a detachment of the army, consisting of nearly three thousand men. Washington wrote to him from Hackensack, requesting him to lead his division into New Jersey immediately to re-enforce his melting army. Lee did not heed the request, and the commander-in-chief finally sent him a positive order to that effect. This order was repeated, and yet he delayed; and so tardy was his march in the rear of the royal army, that it was three weeks before he reached Morristown. It is evident from Lee’s conduct, and the tenor of his letters at that time, that it was not so much a spirit of determined disobedience which governed his actions, as a strong desire to act independent of the commander-in-chief, and perform some signal service which would redound to his personal glory. 13 He was as ambitious as he was impetuous and brave. He had endeavored, but in vain, to induce General Heath, who was left in command at Peekskill, to let him have a detachment of one or two thousand men, with which to operate. Heath refused to vary from his instructions, and it was well he did. Washington continued to urge Lee to form a junction with him; yet, as late as the 11th of December, two days after the passage of the Delaware, a letter written by Lee to Washington, at Morristown, hinted at various contemplated movements, not one of which referred to a junction of forces. This was the last letter Washington received from Lee during his march.


Two days afterward, while pursuing his slow and reluctant progress toward the Delaware, Lee was taken prisoner. His troops lay at a place called Vealtown, while he lodged at Basking Ridge, nearly three miles distant, at the inn of a Mrs. White, now a private dwelling, situated upon rising ground at the southeast entrance of the village. Colonel Harcourt, at the head of a scouting party of British cavalry, apprised of the position of General Lee, 14 made a furious charge upon his quarters on the morning of the 13th of December, dispersed the guard, and captured the commander. 15 Lee had just finished a letter to General Gates when the dragoons appeared. So sudden was the arrest, and so quick was the departure, that he was hurried away on horseback, bare-headed, nothing but slippers on his feet, and a blanket coat on his back, and conveyed in safety to New York. General Sullivan, who was taken prisoner at the battle on Long Island, in August previous, had been exchanged, and was now with Lee’s division of the army. On the capture of Lee the command devolved on Sullivan, and he soon afterward crossed the Delaware and joined Washington.


General Lee was an able and efficient officer, and his loss, at that time, was very severely felt. The estimation in which the enemy held his services may be understood by the declaration, "We have taken the American palladium." His disobedience is indefensible; yet, viewing subsequent events in their various relations, that very disobedience was probably instrumental in working out greater good than compliance would have done. Let us return to the consideration of the movements of the two armies upon the Delaware.

Washington took the precaution, when he crossed the river, to secure every boat and bateau, so that Cornwallis had no means for continuing an immediate pursuit. The latter had intended to cross a portion of troops early the next morning between M‘Conkey’s and Coryell’s Ferry, for the purpose of capturing a number of boats which the Americans had collected on the Pennsylvania side. But these had been taken away, and he had no alternative but to construct boats, or wait for the freezing of the Delaware, so that he might pass his troops over on the ice.

Washington had but twenty-two hundred men under his command when he crossed the river; and two days afterward, in consequence of the expiration of the term of service of a portion of these, he had but seventeen hundred – indeed, not more than one thousand on whom he could rely. The proclamation of General Howe, mentioned on page 308, vol. i., had been circulated freely in the Jerseys since the day of its publication [November 30, 1776.], and had produced wide-spread disaffection to the patriot cause. 17 New Jersey was now in possession of a victorious enemy, and nothing but the feeble barrier of the Delaware lay between Cornwallis and his well-disciplined army, and Philadelphia, the Federal capital, where Congress was in session. The public treasury was exhausted, and the Congress bills of credit were beginning to be looked upon with suspicion and disfavor. Hourly the American army was melting away, and despondency was brooding over every patriot’s mind. Clouds and darkness were gathering thick on every side. The campaign had been little else than a series of discomfitures, 18 and the inefficient provisions made by Congress for keeping up an army were manifest to all. Distrust of Congress and of the army began to prevail in all minds, and the sun of American liberty seemed about to set amid the clouds of hopeless despair. Yet Washington was firm and undaunted. His faith in the ultimate triumph of the Americans seems never to have burned with a brighter and steadier light than at this dark moment. Although December frosts were rapidly preparing a bridge over which the enemy might cross the Delaware and march triumphantly to the conquest of Philadelphia and all Pennsylvania, yet he was calm, determined, hopeful. When asked what he would do if Philadelphia should be taken, he replied, "We will retreat beyond the Susquehanna River, and thence, if necessary, to the Alleghany Mountains." While there was a shadow of an army in the field – while Congress maintained its sittings and unity – while a single ray of hope for success remained, no thought of abandoning the righteous cause was harbored in the mind of that great and good man. Already, in the very darkest hour, he had conceived the masterly stroke of military skill which presently brought forth such a radiant spark of hope and joy upon the frozen banks of the Delaware. 19

After passing the Delaware, the salvation of Philadelphia became the object of Washington’s greatest solicitude. He dispatched General Putnam thither, who, with General Mifflin, commenced the erection of defenses at different points around the city. Congress, now alive to the necessity for the most energetic action, put forth all its powers. It resolved to defend Philadelphia to the last extremity. A stirring appeal to the people was adopted and sent forth [December 11, 1776.], and a thorough organization of the army was begun, in accordance with a plan matured by Washington and a committee of Congress, while the American army was upon Harlem Heights, a few months previous. According to this plan, all the hitherto scattered Continental forces were to be embraced in one grand army, consisting of eighty battalions of seven hundred and fifty men each, to be raised in the several states. Massachusetts and Virginia were each to furnish fifteen battalions; Pennsylvania, twelve; North Carolina, nine; Connecticut, eight; South Carolina, six; New York and New Jersey, four each; New Hampshire and Maryland, three each; Rhode Island, two, and Georgia, one. As an inducement for men to enlist and supply the places of those whose term of service was about expiring, liberal bounties were offered. 20 A loan of five millions of dollars at four per cent. interest was authorized.

On the 12th of December [1776.], Congress invested General Putnam with almost unlimited power in Philadelphia, placing under his control all the munitions of war in the city, and also authorizing him to employ all the private armed vessels in that harbor for the defense of the place. On the same day, under the advice of Putnam and Mifflin, Congress resolved to retire to Baltimore, because Philadelphia, now being made the seat of war, could not furnish that quiet so necessary to wise and dispassionate legislation. 21 A committee of three, consisting of Robert Morris, George Clymer, and George Walton, was appointed to remain in Philadelphia, to act in behalf of Congress, during its absence. That body, pursuant to adjournment, reassembled in Baltimore on the 20th. The Whigs in Philadelphia were in great consternation when Congress left. They feared the Loyalists in their midst quite as much as the approaching enemy. On the departure of Congress, the active Loyalists assumed a bold tone; and General Putnam, who was sent thither to fortify the city, was in daily expectation of an insurrection in favor of the royal cause. Nearly the whole body of Quakers, though passive, belonged to that party.

In the mean while, Washington was preparing to strike the enemy. General Howe, the commander-in-chief of the British forces, remained in New York, and the operations in New Jersey were under the control and direction of Lord Cornwallis. It appears from Howe’s dispatches 22 that he did not contemplate pursuing the Americans further than the Delaware, but designed sending a strong force up the Hudson to meet Burgoyne, who was to penetrate the country from Canada. Cornwallis urged the capture of Philadelphia as a paramount measure, and Howe consented. Yet, with all his vigilance and skill, the arrangement of the British army in the Jerseys was not creditable to the sagacity of Cornwallis. It was scattered in detachments along an extended line. A body of Hessians, under Colonel Rall, was stationed at Trenton, and another, under Count Donop, was posted at Bordentown. The English troops were divided into a chain of cantonments, extending from New Brunswick to the Delaware, and down that river to a point below Burlington. Small detachments were also stationed at Black Horse and Mount Holly. Cornwallis looked with such contempt upon the weak and scattered forces of Washington, and was so certain of an easy victory beyond the Delaware, where, rumor informed him, the people were almost unanimous in favor of the king, that he did not regard great vigilance as necessary. He had returned to head-quarters at New York; and so confident were the British generals that the contest would be ended by taking possession of Philadelphia, that Cornwallis had prepared to sail for England on leave of absence. 23 His military stores were chiefly at New Brunswick, and there was his strongest detachment.

Lee’s division, under Sullivan, and the regiments from Ticonderoga, united with Washington on the 21st [December, 1776.]. The increased pay of officers, the proffered bounties to the soldiers, and the great personal influence of the commander-in-chief, had the effect to retain in the service, for a few weeks at least, more than one half of the old soldiers. The militia of Pennsylvania turned out with considerable alacrity; and on the 24th, between five and six thousand Americans were gathered around the standard of Washington. 24 The commander-in-chief’s head-quarters were at Newtown, a little village on a small branch of the Neshaming, two miles northeast from Bristol. 25

There were about fifteen hundred Hessians {original text has "Hesssians".} and a troop of British light horse at Trenton; these Washington determined to surprise. The posts at Mount Holly, Burlington, Black Horse, and Bordentown were to be attacked, at the same time, by the Pennsylvania militia, under Generals Cadwalader 26 and Ewing, the former to cross near Bristol, the latter below Trenton Falls; while Washington, leading the main body of the Continental troops in person, assisted by Generals Sullivan and Greene, and Colonel Knox of the artillery, was to cross the Delaware at M‘Conkey’s Ferry, and march down upon the enemy at Trenton. The river yet remained quite free from ice, and every thing seemed auspicious. Unknown to General Washington, Putnam, who had been made acquainted with the design of attacking Trenton, sent Colonel Griffin, with a body of four hundred and fifty militia, across from Philadelphia into New Jersey, to make a diversion in favor of the Trenton expedition. Griffin was instructed to proceed to Mount Holly, for the purpose of attracting the attention of Colonel Donop at Bordentown. He was ordered not to fight, but to retreat down the river when the enemy should appear. This movement had the desired effect. Donop, who should have been near enough to support Colonel Rall, 27 moved against Griffin with his whole force of two thousand men; and so dilatory was he in his marches after the retreat of the Americans, that it was two days before he returned to his post. 28

Christmas night was selected by Washington for the execution of the enterprise. He well knew the German habit of celebrating that day with feasting and drinking, and reasoned wisely on the probability of a large portion of the Hessians being half disabled by intemperate indulgence.

The division with which Washington was to cross the Delaware consisted of two thousand four hundred men, with twenty pieces of artillery. At dusk [December 25, 1776.] they paraded at M‘Conkey’s Ferry (now Taylorsville), expecting to reach Trenton by midnight. The cold weather of the twenty-four hours preceding put serious obstacles in the way. The river was so full of floating ice that at first it was doubtful whether a crossing could be effected at all. A storm of sleet and snow had just commenced, and the night became excessively dark and dreary. The perilous voyage began early in the evening, in boats and bateaux, but it was nearly four o’clock in the morning before the little army was mustered on the Jersey shore. 29 Washington there separated his troops into two divisions, one to march by the lower, or river road, the other by the upper, or Pennington road. The distance to Trenton by each highway was about equal. The commander-in-chief ordered both divisions, immediately on forcing the out-guards, to push directly into the town, that they might charge the enemy before they had time to form. To surprise them before daylight was out of the question; sudden movements and physical force must supply the place of strategy. Washington, accompanied by Generals Lord Stirling, Greene, Mercer, and Stephen, commanded the division on the upper road; Sullivan led that upon the river road. Both divisions marched so silently that they were not discovered by the enemy until within a short distance of the picket-guards on the outskirts of the village. Each encountered the out-guards at the same time, and a brisk skirmish ensued; the pickets of the enemy firing from behind houses while retreating to the main body into the town, closely pursued by the Americans. The Hessian drums beat to arms, and in a few moments the disordered ranks were marshaled into battle order by the brave Colonel Rall. Part of Washington’s division pushed down King (now Warren) Street, and a part down Queen (now Greene) Street. Sullivan’s division entered by the mansions of Colonels Dickinson and Rutherford, through Second and Front Streets. By this disposition of the patriot forces at the time of the attack, the enemy were hemmed in by the Assanpink, or Assumpink (a considerable stream running through the town), on the south, and the invading troops. At the head of King Street, Captain Forest opened a six-gun battery, which commanded the avenue. Captain William Washington and Lieutenant James Monroe, 30 perceiving that the enemy were endeavoring to form a battery in the same street, near where the canal feeder now crosses the way, rushed forward with a small party, drove the artillery-men from their guns, and captured two of the pieces just as the gunners were about to fire. These were the first decided movements of the belligerents at the moment of surprise.

EXPLANATION OF THE PLAN. – This map shows the country around Trenton, and the military operations there at the close of 1776 and commencement of 1777. h shows the position of Hand’s rifle corps on the 26th of December, where they stopped the retreat of the Hessians; i, the Virginia troops; k, the Hessians; m, m, m, skirmishes, January 2d; n, n, Cornwallis, January 3d.

When Colonel Rall had formed his men for action, he attempted to advance and repel his assailants but, being completely hemmed in, and his troops panic-stricken, all was confusion. The Americans were pressing closer and closer, and with deadly aim were thinning the Hessian ranks. At length a bullet mortally wounded Colonel Rall, and he fell from his horse, pale and bleeding.


His aids and servant bore him to his quarters at the house of a Quaker named Stacey Potts, while Lieutenant-colonel Scheffer, his next in command, took his place at the head of the troops. But all order was at an end. Seeing their commander fall, the Hessians fled in dismay, the main body attempting to escape by the road to Princeton. Their retreat was cut off by Colonel {original text has "Cololonel".} Hand, with a body of Pennsylvania riflemen. The fugitives, ignorant of the smallness of the force that stood in their way, and having the enthusiasm of only the mercenary soldier, threw down their arms and implored mercy. 32 The light horse and some infantry, in all about six hundred, fled, at the first alarm, to Bordentown. These would have fallen into Washington’s hands, had not the ice and high wind prevented General James Irvine 33 from crossing the Delaware at Trenton as previously arranged. The troops at Bordentown, under Donop, might also have been captured if Cadwalader could have crossed, with his force, at Bristol. He succeeded in landing a battalion of infantry, but the ice on the margin of the river was in such a condition that it was impossible to get the artillery across. The infantry were ordered back, and the design was abandoned.

The victory of the Americans at Trenton was complete. They lost in the engagement only two privates killed, and two others who were frozen to death. The enemy lost six officers and between twenty and thirty men killed, and twenty-three officers and eight hundred and eighty-six non-commissioned officers and privates made prisoners. In addition to these, many others were found concealed in houses and secured, making the whole number of prisoners about one thousand. The trophies were six brass field-pieces, a thousand stand of arms, twelve drums, and four colors. Among the latter was the splendid flag of the Anspachers. 34

As the enemy were in the vicinity in greatly superior numbers and appointments, Washington thought it prudent to recross the Delaware, with his prisoners and spoils, into Pennsylvania. At evening they all marched to M‘Conkey’s Ferry, and reached the place of the American encampment on the other side before midnight of the day of victory. 35


Just before leaving Trenton, Washington and Greene visited the dying Hessian commander at his quarters, and, with a heart overflowing with generous emotions in that hour of splendid triumph, the American chief offered the brave Rall those consolations which a soldier and a Christian can bestow. This kindness and attention from his conqueror soothed the agonies of the expiring hero. The remembrance of the deed seems to play like an electric spark around the pen of the historian while recording it.

Well-attested tradition says that Colonel Rall and his troops were, as Washington supposed they would be, yet under the influence of a night’s carousal after the Christmas holiday. On the morning of the battle, Rall was at the house of Abraham Hunt, who traded with friend and foe. Hunt was sometimes suspected of being a Tory, but never of being a true Whig. He had invited Colonel Rall and others to a Christmas supper at his house. Cards were introduced, and play continued throughout the night, accompanied with wine-drinking. A negro servant was kept as a sort of porter and warden at the door. Just at dawn, a messenger came in haste with a note to Colonel Rall, sent by a Tory on the Pennington road, who had discovered the approach of the Americans. The negro refused admittance to the messenger, saying, "The gemmen can’t be disturbed." The bearer knew the importance of the note, and, handing it to the negro, ordered him to carry it immediately to Colonel Rall. Excited by wine, and about to "deal," the colonel thrust the note into his pocket. Like the Theban polemarch, who, in the midst of a convivial party, on receiving dispatches relative to a conspiracy, refused to open them, saying, "Business to-morrow," Rall did not look at the message, but continued his amusement. Soon afterward, the roll of the American drums fell upon his drowsy ear. The rattle of musketry, the rumble of heavy gun-carriages, and the tramp of horses aroused his apprehensions, and by the time he could fly to his quarters and mount his horse, the Americans were driving his soldiers before them like chaff. 37 "Business to-day – pleasure to-morrow," is the motto of all vigilance and thrift.

When the British and Hessians at Bordentown heard of the disaster at Trenton, most of them retreated to Princeton, while a few fled toward South Amboy and Brunswick. Generals Cadwalader and Mifflin crossed over into New Jersey, with a considerable force, and the whole line of the enemy’s cantonments along the Delaware was broken up and driven into the interior. This bold stroke, resulting in brilliant success, was the hinge upon which the cause of the Americans seemed to turn. The English, who had regarded the patriots with contempt, and believed their power to be utterly broken, were overwhelmed with astonishment. The Tories and pliant Whigs, lately so exultant and loyal, were greatly alarmed and silent; while the friends of liberty, rising from the depths of despondency, stood erect in the pride and strength of their principles, and confident of ultimate complete success. The prestige of the Hessian name was broken, and the terror which they inspired, as foes invincible, passed away. The faltering militia flocked with eagerness to the standard of Washington; and many of the soldiers of the campaign, who were about to leave the army with disgust, joyfully enlisted. Cornwallis, who was on the eve of departure for England, believing the rebellion virtually at an end, was ordered back to New Jersey. General Grant, who was with the main army at New Brunswick, advanced to Princeton, and the British forces in the Jerseys were as much concentrated in the direction of Trenton as circumstances would allow.

While Washington was achieving the victory at Trenton, the Continental Congress, sitting in Baltimore, were taking measures to strengthen his hands. The extreme jealousy of a military ascendency, which had hitherto restrained the majority in Congress from giving the commander-in-chief such ample powers as necessity manifestly demanded, now yielded to expediency, and, by a resolution adopted on the 27th of December [1776.], before they could possibly have heard of the affair at Trenton, they constituted Washington, in all respects, a DICTATOR, in the old Roman sense of the term. 38

Inspirited by his success at Trenton, the panic of the enemy, and their retirement from the Delaware; his army strengthened by new recruits and the junction of the militia who had guarded the lower posts on the river, Washington determined to recross the Delaware and occupy Trenton, and then make such offensive movements against the British as prudence should dictate. This he accomplished on the 30th [December, 1776.]. The term of service of a large portion of the Eastern militia was now about expiring. He prevailed on them to remain six weeks longer, by promising to each soldier a bounty of ten dollars. The military chest was not in a condition to permit him to fulfill his promise, and he wrote to Robert Morris, the great patriot financier of the Revolution, for aid, pleading the urgent necessity of the case. It was necessary to have hard money, and the sum was large. The requirement seemed almost impossible to meet. Government credit was low, but confidence in Robert Morris was unbounded. In a desponding spirit, unusual for him, Morris left his counting-room at a late hour, musing upon the probabilities of meeting the demand. On his way he met a wealthy Quaker, and made known his wants. "Robert, what security canst thou give?" asked the Quaker. "My note, and my honor," promptly replied Morris. "Thou shalt have it," was the answer; and the next morning Robert Morris wrote to Washington, "I was up early this morning to dispatch a supply of fifty thousand dollars to your excellency. It gives me great pleasure that you have engaged the troops to continue and if further occasional supplies of money are necessary, you may depend on my exertions either in a public or private capacity." 39 Washington, on reaching Trenton, and advised of the approach of Cornwallis with a strong force from Princeton [January 2, 1777.], encamped on the south side of the Assanpink (now in South Trenton), upon the high ground extending eastward from a small bridge that spanned the stream. He took this position in order to place the stream between himself and the advancing enemy. The American force, one half of which was composed of undisciplined militia, was only about five thousand strong; while that of the enemy was equally large, composed almost exclusively of British regulars, thoroughly disciplined. Washington sent out strong parties, under General Greene, to harass the enemy on their march, and it was almost sunset before Cornwallis reached Trenton. The Americans retreated before him, and it was with difficulty that they passed over the bridge to the main army. 40 The bridge, and the ford above, where the rail-way now crosses, were strongly guarded by artillery. Cornwallis drew up his army in solid column, and, marching down Queen (now Greene) Street, attempted to force the bridge, but was three times repulsed by thc American cannon. A strong detachment also attempted to cross the ford, and get in the rear of the patriots; but they, too, were forced back by the vigorous action of cannon and small-arms. The Americans kept up a heavy cannonade until dark, when the British fell back in confusion, having lost many men. 41 At each repulse, the Americans raised a loud shout along their lines; and at last, Cornwallis, believing their force to be much greater than it really was, ceased hostilities, lighted his camp-fires, and awaited the morning for further movements.


Washington and his army were now in a most critical situation. It was evident that a general engagement must take place the next day, and, in such a conflict, the result in favor of the enemy could hardly be considered doubtful. The commander-in-chief, as usual, called a council of war. The alternative first proposed was a retreat down the Delaware and a passage across the river at Philadelphia, or a battle on the spot. Both were considered extremely hazardous. Washington then proposed a stealthy withdrawal from the Assanpink, and a circuitous march to Princeton, to get in the enemy’s rear, beat up his quarters at that place, and, if circumstances should be favorable, to fall upon his stores at New Brunswick. This proposition was approved; but the ground, on account of a thaw, was too soft to permit an easy transit of their forty pieces of cannon. This was a serious difficulty. While the council was in session, the wind changed to the northwest, and became so exceedingly cold that within two hours the ground was as hard as a pavement: the great difficulty was overcome by a power mightier than that of man. The favorable moment was speedily improved. Along the front of his army Washington lighted numerous camp-fires, made of the fences in the neighborhood. These were evidence to the enemy that his antagonist was encamped for the night; and Cornwallis assured Sir William Erskine, who urged him to make an attack that evening, that he would certainly "catch the fox [meaning Washington] in the morning." Great was his astonishment and alarm at dawn to find the patriot camp-fires still burning, but not a man, nor hoof, nor tent, nor cannon there. All was silent and dreary on the south side of the Assanpink; and no man of the British army knew whither the Americans had fled, until the din of battle in the direction of Princeton came faintly upon the keen morning air at sunrise. Cornwallis heard the booming of cannon, and, although mid-winter, he thought it was the rumbling of distant thunder. The quick ear of Erskine decided otherwise, and he exclaimed, "To arms, general! Washington has out-generaled us. Let us fly to the rescue at Princeton!"

At one o’clock in the morning Washington had silently withdrawn his army from Trenton, and made his way, along a new road, 43 toward Princeton, ten miles distant. This circuitous route was taken to avoid a detachment of the enemy lying at Maidenhead, on the direct road to Princeton. The baggage was sent down to Burlington. The commander-in-chief ordered his camp-fires to be kept burning, and the patrols to march their accustomed rounds until near daylight, when those who fed the flames, and also the patrols, were directed to retreat hastily to the main body. The movement was made with great skill and order, for the pickets of both armies on the Assanpink were within speaking distance of each other when the fires were lighted and the guards set.


Proceeding by the way of Sandtown (see map on page 21), Washington reached the upper bridge over Stony Brook, near Princeton, a little before sunrise, and arranged his column near the Quaker meeting-house. A brigade of the enemy, under Lieutenant-colonel Mawhood, consisting of the seventeenth, fortieth, and fifty-fifth regiments, with three troops of dragoons, had quartered in Princeton the previous night; and at the moment of Washington’s arrival, two of the regiments had commenced {original text has "commmenced".} their march for Trenton, to re-enforce Cornwallis. The main body of the Americans, after crossing Stony Brook, wheeled to the right, and advanced cautiously along a by-road, through low grounds, directly for Princeton. General Mercer, having under him Captains Stone, Fleming, Neal and others, with about three hundred and fifty men, many of them youths belonging to the first families in Philadelphia, was detached to take possession of the lower bridge at Worth’s Mill, on the old highway to Trenton. This movement had a three-fold object; the securing of the bridge, the interception of fugitives from Princeton, and the checking of any retrograde movement of the rear of Cornwallis’s army.

NOTE. – This plan of the battle of Princeton I copied from a large drawing in the library of Princeton College, made from surveys by Professor Albert B. Dod, and drawn by W. A. Dod and S. B. Alexander. Explanation of the References. – a, head of the American column when first seen by the British; b, head of column after Mercer’s engagement; c, retreat of the British; **, pursuit of the Americans; 1, Quaker meeting-house; 2, Clark’s house, where Mercer died; 3, 4, the British seventeenth regiment; 5, 6 Mercer beginning the battle; 7, 8, the seventeenth attempting to dislodge Moulder; 9, 10, Pennsylvania militia under Washington; 11, Hitchcock’s regiment; 13, display of Continentals; 14, Nassau Hall, or Princeton College, in the village; 15, Richard Stockton’s residence, and Cornwallis’s head-quarters for a time; 16, Worth’s Mill, on Stony Brook; 17, Millett’s, the position of the seventeenth regiment at sunrise; 18, the fortieth and fifty-fifth regiments of the British retreating, after the action, toward Rocky Hill. The rail-way station is seen upon the Delaware and Raritan Canal, southeast of Princeton village.

It was an exceedingly clear, cold, and brilliant morning; every thing was jeweled with the hoar frost. As the Americans emerged from behind a piece of woods a little south of the Quaker meeting-house, their arms glittering in the bright sun, they were discovered by the seventeenth regiment of the enemy, then under march upon a hill (now Millett’s) on the old Trenton road. Washington observed the enemy at the same moment, and both commanders prepared for an encounter. Mawhood wheeled both his regiments and recrossed the bridge, just as Mercer, by a quick movement, reached it. Both parties, by rapid evolutions, endeavored to get possession of the high ground on the right, toward Princeton, and westward of the house of William Clark. Mercer, with his troops, soon reached the house and orchards of Clark, a little eastward of the present turnpike, when, perceiving the British line approaching from the opposite side of the height, he pushed through the orchard to a hedge fence, from behind which his riflemen discharged a deadly volley. It was quickly returned by the enemy, who instantly charged. The Americans were armed only with rifles, and could not withstand the furious attack of British bayonets. After the third fire, they abandoned the fence, broke, and fled in disorder. The enemy pursued the flying patriots until they came to the brow of the slope, near Clark’s, when, for the first time, they discovered the American column of regulars, and the Pennsylvania militia, commanded by Washington in person, advancing to the support of Mercer. The flying Americans were checked and speedily arranged in battle order. Captain Moulder’s artillery formed in battery on the right of Thomas Clark’s house, about a quarter of a mile south of the scene of the first conflict. Mawhood discovered the commanding form of Washington passing from column to column, and bringing order out of confusion. He immediately ceased pursuit, and, drawing up his artillery, attempted to charge and take Moulder’s battery. The effort was vain. Being dreadfully galled by the grape-shot of the patriots, and perceiving Hitchcock’s and another Continental regiment advancing from behind the American column, Mawhood wheeled, and retreated toward the high ground in the rear, leaving his artillery upon the field. These the Americans were unable to carry off, on account of a want of horses. The action continued only about fifteen minutes, but was very severe. Washington was exposed to the hottest fire, while encouraging the militia by voice and example. General Mercer dismounted after the first fire, the gray horse he was riding having been disabled by a musket-ball that wounded his fore leg; and while on foot, endeavoring to rally his broken troops, he was felled to the ground by a blow from a musket dealt by a British soldier. When his rank was discovered, the enemy, believing it to be Washington, raised an exulting shout, and cried, "The rebel general is taken!" Several rushed to the spot, exclaiming, "Call for quarters, you d-----d rebel!" "I am no rebel," cried Mercer, indignantly, while half a dozen bayonets were at his breast; and, instead of calling for quarter, he determined to die fighting. He struck several blows at his enemies with his sword, when they bayoneted him and left him for dead. 45 Upon the retreat of the British, General Mercer was conveyed to the house of Thomas Clark (now John Clark’s), then a new building, where he was tenderly nursed by the late Miss Sarah Clark, of the Society of Friends, and a colored woman belonging to the family. He languished in great pain until the 12th [January, 1777.], when he expired in the arms of Major George Lewis, a nephew of Washington, and captain of the horse guards. 46 Dr. Benjamin Rush was also with him until he died. 47


The loss of the Americans in this engagement was about thirty, among whom, besides General Mercer, were Colonels Haslet and Potter, Major Morris, Captains Shippen, Fleming, and Neal, all officers of much promise. The loss of General Mercer was irreparable. He had been a companion in arms with Washington in the campaign against the French and Indians in 1755, and was greatly beloved by all. Highly educated, patriotic, brave, and noted for strict integrity, he was regarded as one of the most promising of the general officers with whom the chief was associated. He fell at the moment of victory, for the next instant the shout of success from American lips greeted his ear. Among those of the enemy, mortally wounded, was Captain William Leslie, a son of the Scotch Earl of Levin, of whom mention is made in the note on page 332, vol. i.


The broken and routed seventeenth regiment fled to the Trenton road, crossed the bridge, and hastened to join Cornwallis, who had been brought forward with great haste by the firing. Washington pushed on to Princeton, and in a ravine near the college encountered a sharp resistance from the fifty-fifth regiment. This corps was also routed, and fled toward Brunswick, accompanied by the fortieth, which took little part in the action. In the college buildings at Princeton (which, with the Presbyterian church, had been used for barracks by the enemy) there remained a portion of a regiment. Washington drew up some cannon within a short distance of these buildings, and commenced firing upon them. The first ball, it is said, entered the prayer hall, a room used as a chapel, and passed through the head of a portrait of George the Second, suspended in a large frame upon the wall. After a few discharges, Captain James Moore, of the Princeton militia, with a few others of equal daring, burst open a door of Nassau Hall, and demanded the surrender of the troops within. They instantly complied, and, with several invalids, were made prisoners.


At the close of the action at Clark’s, where Mawhood, with the seventeenth, was routed, Washington detached a small party, under Major Kelley, of the Pennsylvania militia, to destroy the bridge over Stony Brook, at Worth’s Mills. They had scarcely begun the work of destruction when the van of the British troops, advancing from Trenton upon Princeton, appeared upon the hill at Millett’s. Cornwallis heard the firing in the direction of Princeton, and suspecting the object of his enemy to be the seizure of his stores at New Brunswick, he made a forced march in pursuit, and arrived near Stony Brook just after the first and decisive battle had been fought. When the British discovered the party engaged in demolishing the bridge, they opened upon them a discharge of heavy round-shot, which drove them away; not, however, until the loose planks were thrown into the stream, and the bridge was rendered impassable for the artillery and baggage. Delay was dangerous, perhaps fatal, and Cornwallis ordered the troops to dash into and ford the swollen stream. 50 It was almost breast-deep, and half filled with ice; yet the soldiers obeyed, and, in their mail of frozen clothes, hastened on toward Princeton. When near the town, the advanced guard was brought to a halt by the discharge of an iron thirty-two-pounder, which the enemy had left on a temporary breast-work at the west end of the village. 51 Cornwallis, apprehending that Washington had determined to make a stand at Princeton, halted his column, and sent out reconnoitering parties of horsemen. In the mean while, a large detachment approached the battery cautiously, intending to take it by storm. These movements delayed them an hour, and when they arrived at the breast-work and the village, great was their astonishment and chagrin to find both deserted, and not a rebel in sight! Washington, with his little army and prisoners, was far on his way toward the Millstone River, in hot pursuit of the fortieth and fifty-fifth regiments.

The battle at Princeton and its results, following closely upon the brilliant affair at Trenton, produced a strong impression upon the public mind favorable to the commander-in-chief and the patriot cause. Considering the numbers engaged, it was one of the severest conflicts of the war, and in no engagement did the skill and bravery of both parties appear more conspicuously. The enemy lost about one hundred in killed, and three hundred in wounded and prisoners. The loss of the Americans was about one hundred, including several valuable officers. Never was a general more exposed to death than was Washington, when leading the troops to the support of Mercer’s riflemen; yet he escaped without a wound. 52

Washington pursued the fugitive regiments as far as Kingston, beyond the Millstone River, three miles northeast of Princeton. There he held a council of war with his officers, on horseback. The rich prize at New Brunswick was very tempting, and a wish was generally expressed to continue the march thither and secure the British stores. Such a step would have been fatal; for Cornwallis, with fresh troops, and superior in numbers, was in close pursuit; while the Americans, who had fought at Trenton on the 2d, marched all night before the battle of Princeton on the 3d, and had not slept for thirty-six hours, were completely exhausted. More than half of them had not been able to procure breakfast or dinner; many were destitute of shoes or stockings, and in every way were utterly unable to contend with an enemy. To save his army, Washington filed off on the left, at Kingston, along a narrow road running to Rocky Hill. He destroyed the bridge at Kingston, which checked the progress of Cornwallis for some time, and, after having crossed the Millstone twice, he reached Pluckemin that evening. On the way, overcome by fatigue, many soldiers lay down and slept on the frozen ground. Washington remained no longer at Pluckemin than to give his troops rest and refreshments, and then advanced to Morristown, where he established his winter quarters. His subsequent movements, by which New Jersey was soon purged of the enemy, are mentioned on page 307, vol. i.

Cornwallis repaired, and then crossed the bridge at Kingston, and, believing Washington to be on the road to New Brunswick, pushed eagerly forward – so eagerly, over the rough and frozen roads, that several of his baggage-wagons were broken down. Leaving them in charge of a detachment of between two and three hundred men, 53 he pressed onward, and reached New Brunswick at sunset. Again the Americans had eluded his pursuit; yet he rejoiced in the safety of his stores.

The armed parties frequently sent out by Washington from his hill-quarters were generally successful, and the people, incensed at the bad faith of the English and the depredations of the Hessians, joined the Americans in all their expeditions. The British quarters were straitened, their supplies were cut off, and in a short time New Jersey was evacuated by the enemy. Alluding to these results, the eloquent Charles Botta observes, "Achievements so stirring gained for the American commander a very great reputation, and were regarded with wonder by all nations, as well as by the Americans. The prudence, constancy, and noble intrepidity of Washington was admired and applauded by all. By unanimous consent he was declared to be the savior of his country; all proclaimed him equal to the most renowned commanders of antiquity, and especially distinguished him by the name of the AMERICAN FABIUS. His name was in the mouths of all; he was celebrated by the pens of the most distinguished writers. The most illustrious personages of Europe lavished upon him their praises and their congratulations. 54 The American general, therefore, wanted neither a cause full of grandeur to defend, nor occasion for the acquisition of glory, nor genius to avail himself of it, nor the renown due to his triumphs, nor an entire generation of men perfectly well disposed to render him homage."

Washington exercised the dictatorial powers which Congress had conferred upon him with energy and great circumspection, and with a single eye to the good of his country. His recommendations were promptly seconded by Congress, and soon great vitality was visible every where. He took care to provide for meritorious officers in his appointments, when organizing the sixteen battalions authorized by Congress. At that time public clamor was strong against Dr. Morgan, 55 the successor of the traitor, Church, as head of the medical department, and he was dismissed by Congress, and Dr. Shippen, 56 of Philadelphia, was appointed in his place, with Dr. Craik 57 as his assistant [January 5, 1777.].

On the 19th of February [1777.], Stirling, St. Clair, Lincoln, Mifflin, and Stephen were commissioned as major generals; while Arnold, on account of his conduct at Montreal, where he obeyed the injunction "put money in thy purse," at the expense of honor and honesty, was overlooked. This soured him, and doubtless planted the first noxious seed of treason in his heart. During the spring, eighteen new brigadiers 58 were commissioned. Four regiments of horse were enlisted, under Colonels Bland, Baylor, Sheldon, and Moylan. Cadwalader and Reed were both, in turn, offered the general command of the horse, but declined. Timothy Pickering was appointed adjutant general in the place of Joseph Reed, who had resigned. Mifflin remained at the head of the quarter-master’s department, which was regulated, and more thoroughly organized by the appointment of subalterns. Congress attempted to reorganize the commissary department, and claimed the right to make subordinate appointments. So much did this new arrangement interfere with the efficiency of the department, that Joseph Trumbull, Jun., commissary general, resigned. The meddling of Congress with the smaller appointments and the minute affairs of chief officers in the various departments of the army, was very mischievous in effect; for the personal friends of members of that body, often incompetent, were appointed to places requiring talent, energy, and honesty. On the whole, however, the army was upon a better footing in the spring of 1777 than it had ever been.

I visited Princeton and the battle-grounds subsequently to my tarry at Trenton when on my way south. It was a very cold evening in December [December 12, 1849.] when I arrived there from Philadelphia, the snow about ten inches deep upon the ground. Early the next morning, in company with Colonel Cumming of Princeton, who kindly offered to accompany me, I rode first to the battle-ground and Clark’s house, where General Mercer died, and made the sketch on page 29, The air was very keen, and the snow half knee-deep, circumstances which were quite unfavorable to deliberate sketching in the open fields. I persevered, however, and was successful in delineating such objects as I desired. From Clark’s house we crossed the fields to the Quaker meeting-house, and then rode to the bridge at Worth’s Mills, where I made the sketch on page 31. Returning to Princeton on the old Trenton road, we met Mr. Worth, an aged man, and present proprietor of the mill, who gave me a narrative of events there, substantially as related.


We stopped at Morven, in the suburbs of Princeton. This is the homestead estate of Commodore Stockton, and the residence, during the Revolution, of his paternal grandfather, Richard Stockton, one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence. There, affluence and taste lent its power in dispensing its blessings to the poor, and in creating the joys of social intercourse, before the Revolution; there, suffering and woe held terrible rule after Cornwallis and his army swept over the plains of New Jersey. Like others of the signers of the great Declaration, Mr. Stockton was marked for peculiar vengeance by the enemy. So suddenly did the flying Americans pass by in the autumn of 1776, and so soon were the Hessian vultures and their British companions on the trail, that he had barely time to remove his family to a place of safety before his beautiful mansion was filled with rude soldiery. The house was pillaged; the horses and stock were driven away; the furniture was converted into fuel; the choice old wines in the cellar were drunk; the valuable library and all the papers of Mr. Stockton were committed to the flames, and the estate was laid waste. The plate had been hastily buried in the woods, in boxes. A treacherous servant revealed their place of concealment, and two of the boxes were disinterred and rifled of their contents; the other was saved. 60 Mr. Stockton and his family took refuge with a friend in Monmouth county. His place of concealment was discovered by a party of refugee Loyalists, who entered the house at night, dragged him from his bed, and, treating him with every indignity which malice could invent, hurried him to Amboy, and from thence to New York, where he was confined in the loathsome provost jail. There he suffered dreadfully; and when, through the interposition of Congress, he was released, his constitution was hopelessly shattered, and he did not live to see the independence of his country achieved. He died at Morven, in Princeton, in February, 1781, blessed to the last with the tender and affectionate attentions of his Annis, whom he called "the best of women." 61 Night and day she was at his bed-side, and when his spirit was about to depart, she wrote, impromptu, several verses, of which the following is indicative of her feelings:

"Oh, could I take the fate to him assign’d,

And leave the helpless family their head,
How pleased, how peaceful to my lot resign’d,
I’d quit the nurse’s station for the bed!"

Morven is a beautiful spot, and, hallowed by such associations, it is exceedingly attractive to the resident and stranger.

Nassau Hall, the principal edifice of the College of New Jersey, is a spacious building, one hundred and seventy-six feet long, fifty wide, and four stories high, built of stone. It was erected in 1757. The college was commenced by Jonathan Dickinson, in Elizabethtown, and was first incorporated in 1756. Governor Belcher was one of its earliest and most efficient patrons. He made "generous donation of his library of books, 62 with other valuable ornaments," to the college; and, upon his recommendation, Nassau Hall was so called in memory "of the glorious King William the Third, who was a branch of the illustrious house of NASSAU." The Hall stands in the center of spacious grounds, fronting on the principal street in Princeton. The edifice on the left of Nassau Hall, containing the college library and the philosophic hail, was erected after a conflagration in 1802. The library contains about eight thousand volumes, and the libraries of two societies of the institution about four thousand more, making twelve thousand volumes. There is also a mineralogical cabinet, a museum of natural history, and a fine collection of drawings made for the purpose of elucidating lectures on astronomy and architecture. There is also a good collection of philosophical apparatus there, which includes that wonderful piece of scientific mechanism, the planetarium of Doctor David Rittenhouse. 63 Through the politeness of Professor MacLean, I was permitted to examine its construction, and view the wonderful precision with which the machinery performed its difficult functions. On the front is inscribed, "INVENTED BY DAVID RITTENHOUSE, A. D. 1768; REPAIRED AND EXTENDED BY HENRY VOIGHT, 1806; BOTH OF PHILADELPHIA." Dr. Gordon, writing in 1790, says of this planetarium, "There is not the like in Europe. An elegant and neatly-ornamented frame rises perpendicular near upon eight feet, in the front of which you are presented, in three several apartments, with a view of the celestial system, the motions of the planets around the sun, and the satellites about the planets. The wheels, &c., that produce the movement are behind the wooden perpendicular frame in which the orrery is fixed. By suitable contrivances, you in a short time tell the eclipses of the sun and moon for ages past and ages to come; the like in other cases of astronomy." It is said that it was Lord Cornwallis’s intention to carry this planetarium away, and take it to England with him; but the Americans kept him too busily engaged in affairs of greater personal moment, while in Princeton, to permit him to plunder the college of this great treasure. This intention on the part of an enemy was not as reprehensible as the proposition which Silas Deane, the American commissioner, made, who suggested the propriety of presenting it to the French government as a bonus for its good will!


I have mentioned that the first cannon-ball which entered Nassau Hall, when Washington opened a fire upon it, passed through the portrait of George the Second, and destroyed it. The frame was uninjured, and left suspended upon the wall. It is alleged that Washington, in order to make good to the college the damage sustained by the cannonade, made the trustees a present, from his private purse, of two hundred and fifty dollars, which sum they expended in procuring a full-length portrait of the commander-in-chief. It was painted by Charles Wilson Peale, and occupies the identical frame in which hung the king’s portrait. The annexed sketch is an outline of this interesting picture. In the back-ground is seen Nassau Hall, and in the middle and fore-ground a sketch of the battle of Princeton, in which the death of Mercer is represented. The portrait of Mercer there given was painted from his brother, who sat for it, and who greatly resembled him. It was considered a good likeness by those who knew the general. The portrait given below I copied from Peale’s picture, in which I have preserved the languid expression of a wounded man, as given him by the artist. On the left is seen a portion of the skirt of Washington’s coat, and his chapeau.


Many pleasing memories crowd upon the mind of the visitor to this ancient seat of learning, where so large a number of the active young men of the Revolution who lived in the Middle States were educated. Under the guidance of the learned and patriotic Dr. Witherspoon, who in the pulpit, academic hall, or legislative forum, was the champion of good, it was the nursery of patriots. He was a lineal descendant of John Knox, the noble Scotch reformer; and, like that bold ancestor, he never shrank from the post of danger, if called to it by duty. Like Yale under Daggett, and Harvard under Langdon, the College of New Jersey, under Witherspoon, made its influence felt in the council and the field during the war for independence.

Of the meetings of Congress at Princeton in 1783, and the Farewell Address of General Washington to the armies of the United States, written at Rocky Hill, a few miles distant, I shall hereafter write. Let us now return to Trenton.


As I hoped and anticipated, the storm that came down so furiously, on my return from M‘Conkey’s Ferry, subsided during the night, and the morning sun came forth, only half hidden by broken clouds. Accompanied by Mr. Smythe, my companion on the previous day when I visited the ferry, I went out early to view and sketch localities of interest about Trenton, all of which are given in preceding pages, except "White Hall," a large stone building, standing on the south side of Front Street. This was used for barracks by the Hessians during their occupancy of Trenton in 1776.

I called upon Stacey G. Potts, Esq., who kindly permitted me to copy a picture in his possession, painted by G. W. Flagg, and illustrating the interesting scene of the capture of Emily Gieger, an incident of one of Greene’s Southern campaigns. The picture and narrative will be found in another part of this work. Mr. Potts informed me that the floral arch erected in honor of Washington, while on his way from Mount Vernon to New York City to take the oath of office as President of the United States, was erected upon the bridge over the Assanpink, close by the "Stacey Mill," seen in the picture on page 26. The arch was preserved on the premises of the Misses Barnes, near the Episcopal church in Warren Street, until 1824, when it was placed in front of the State House to grace the reception of La Fayette. Remains of the arch, when I visited Trenton, were in the possession of Dr. Francis Ewing of that city, and supported the branches of a venerable rose-bush in his garden. With a notice of the events connected with that arch we will close the historic volume, and bid adieu to Trenton.

The journey of Washington from Mount Vernon to New York was like a triumphal march. He had hardly left his porter’s lodge when he was met by a company of gentlemen from Alexandria, who escorted him to that town. 64 Every where the people gathered to see him as he passed along the road, and every town sent out its first citizens to meet him on his approach. Entertainments were given in his honor, and public addresses were received by him and answers returned. Militia companies escorted him from place to place, and his approach to the principal cities was announced by the firing of cannon and the ringing of bells. At Trenton, his reception was of a peculiar nature, full of pure sentiment and the most loyal patriotism. There, a little more than twelve years before, one of his most brilliant military feats was achieved, and it was a fitting place for an unusual display of respect and reverence. The ladies took the matter in hand, and upon Trenton Bridge they caused to be erected an arch, which they adorned with laurel leaves and flowers from the forests and their hot-houses, and the first spring contributions from their gardens. Upon the crown of the arch, in large letters, formed of leaves and flowers, were the words, "DECEMBER 26th, 1776;" and on the sweep beneath was the sentence, also formed of flowers, "THE DEFENDER OF THE MOTHERS WILL BE THE PROTECTOR OF THE DAUGHTERS." Beneath this arch the president elect was obliged to pass on entering Trenton. There he was met by a troop of females. On one side a row of little girls, dressed in white, and each bearing a basket of flowers, were arranged; on the other side stood a row of young ladies similarly arrayed, and behind them were the married ladies. The moment Washington and his suite approached the arch, the little girls began to strew flowers in the road, and the whole company of the fair sang the following ode, written for the occasion by Governor Howell: 65

"Welcome, mighty chief, once more
Welcome to this grateful shore.
Now no mercenary foe
Aims again the fatal blow –

Aims at THEE the fatal blow.

Virgins fair and matrons grave,
Those thy conquering arm did save,
Build for THEE triumphal bowers.
Strew, ye fair, his way with flowers –
Strew your HERO’S way with flowers!"

After passing the arch, the general turned his horse’s head toward the choir, and listened to this tribute of sweet voices with much emotion. After receiving the salutations of the citizens, Washington handed to the Reverend J. F. Armstrong a note acknowledging his obligations to the ladies of Trenton. 66 The whole scene was one of exceeding interest. A hundred-fold more glorious was that arch, erected by such hands, to greet the presence of such a hero, than the gorgeous triumphal arches under which passed the blood-stained Roman conquerors, with their pageants of misery, and the rich spoils of desolated kingdoms. It was the tribute of the pure in heart to the truly great –

"Great, not like Cæsar, stain’d with blood,
But only great as he was good."

NOTE. – Since the preceding pages were printed. I have been put in possession of a translation of a letter written by the Electoral Prince of Hesse Cassel after the battle at Trenton. That prince was the grandfather of the present sovereign of that little realm, and one of the thirty-nine petty tyrants who now rule Germany. The letter is dated April 10th, 1777, and is as follows:


"You can not think how much pleased I was to hear that, out of the nineteen hundred and fifty-five Hessians who took part in the battle, no more than three hundred and forty-five remain. There are, accordingly, sixteen hundred and ten dead – no more and no less, and so the Treasury owes me, according to our contract, 634,000 florins. The Court of London says, it is true, that some hundred of them are only wounded, who can not be paid for like the dead; but I hope that, remindful of my instructions given to you at Cassel, you have not tried to save, with inhuman help, those poor fellows, who could have bought life only at the sacrifice of a leg or an arm. That would be a sad present to them; and I am sure they prefer to die gloriously rather than live lamed and unfit for my service. Remember that out of the three hundred Spartans but one remained in life. Oh! how happy would I be if I could say the same of my brave Hessians."



1 This point, when first mentioned in the East Jersey records, bears the Indian name of Ompage, of which Ambo or Amboy is a corruption. The white settlement there was for some time called Perth, in honor of the Earl of Perth, one of the proprietors; but the name of Ambo was so often mentioned, that at last it was called Perth Amboy.

2 William Franklin, the royal governor of New Jersey, was the only son of Dr. Benjamin Franklin. He was born in 1731. He was postmaster of Philadelphia for a short time, and served as clerk of the House of Representatives of Pennsylvania. He was a captain in the French and Indian war, and fought bravely, under Abercrombie, at Ticonderoga. He visited England, with his father, toward the close of the war. In Scotland he became acquainted with the Earl of Bute, who recommended him to Lord Fairfax. That nobleman appointed him governor of New Jersey, and for a time he was very popular with the people. He was a decided monarchist, and from the beginning of the disputes with Great Britain he took sides against his father. He involved himself in quarrels with the Legislature of New Jersey, and the people became very hostile to him before the close of his administration in 1776. On the 23d of May of that year, the first Provincial Congress of New Jersey commenced their session at Trenton, and the royal government soon afterward ceased to exist. A constitution was adopted in July, 1776. William Livingston was elected governor in place of Franklin, and that deposed servant of royalty, declared by the Congress of New Jersey to be an enemy to liberty, was seized in his own house at Perth Amboy, and conveyed a prisoner to Windham, Connecticut, at which place, and also in Litchfield jail, he was confined for some time. [See p. 436, vol. i.] When Sir Henry Clinton took chief command in America in 1778, Governor Franklin was exchanged for some American prisoners, and released. He went to New York, where he served for a short period as president of the Board of Directors of the Associated Loyalists. In West’s picture of the Reception of the American Loyalists by Great Britain, in the year 1783, Governor Franklin is a prominent personage represented. A copy of this picture will be found in another part of this work. Franklin went to England at the close of the war, where he resided until his death in November, 1813, enjoying a pension of $4000 per annum. He and his father were reconciled in 1784, after an alienation of ten years. The doctor, however, could not forget his political delinquency. In his will, after devising to his son all the books and papers of his in possession of the governor, and also all debts standing against him on his account-books, he says, "The part he acted against me in the late war, which is of public notoriety, will account for my leaving him no more of an estate he endeavored to deprive me of." * Governor Franklin’s wife died in 1778, just before his release from imprisonment. On a monumental tablet in St. Paul’s Church, New York, it is inscribed that, "compelled to part from the husband she loved, and at length despairing of the soothing hope of his return, she sunk of accumulated distresses," &c. His son, William Temple Franklin, who edited his grandfather’s works, died at Paris in May, 1823.

* Sparks’s Life of Franklin.

3 History of the Arts of Design, vol. ii.

4 This name is derived from the Indian appellation of the place, Crossweeksung, signifying a separation. The creek separates into two branches not far from the village.

5 In less than one year after Brainerd commenced preaching among them, he baptized no less than seventy-seven persons, of whom thirty-eight were adults. – Allen’s Amer. Biog. Hist. Dictionary.

6 Frederic Frelinghuysen was the son of Reverend John Frelinghuysen, of Raritan, New Jersey. He graduated at Princeton in 1770, and when the Revolution broke out he entered the military service of his country. He was a captain of a militia company at the battle of Trenton, December 26, 1776, and, it is said, was the man who shot Colonel Rall, the commander of the Hessians. He was afterward promoted to the rank of colonel, which office he held during the war. He was a member of the old Congress, and, under the administration of Washington, was a senator from New Jersey. He was for a number of years one of the trustees of Princeton College. He died in April, 1804, aged about fifty-two years. Theodore Frelinghuysen, late United States senator from New Jersey, and Chancellor of the University of New York, is his son.

7 An American named Clevenger, who had cut away the last sleeper of the bridge when the enemy approached, was shot in the back of the head and killed while retreating. He was the only man whom the Americans lost in the skirmish.

8 This view is from the shed in the yard, looking southeast. The building stands in the center of a large square, is of imported brick, and very spacious. The Quakers were numerous in this vicinity in the time of the Revolution, and a large number of the present inhabitants are members of that sect.

9 The distance from Philadelphia to Bordentown is twenty-six miles.

10 Philemon Dickinson was a gallant officer of the Revolution. He was a Whig of the truest dye, and entered the Revolutionary army at the outset of the contest. Although possessed of an ample fortune, he cheerfully hazarded it for the good of his country, preferring poverty with liberty, to wealth with slavery. He was at the head of the Jersey militia in the battle of Monmouth, where he displayed the greatest bravery. He was a member of Congress from his state after the establishment of the present Federal government, and in various civil and military stations he discharged his duty faithfully. Twelve years of the latter part of his life were passed in domestic retirement at his seat near Trenton, where he died on the 4th of February, 1809, at the age of sixty-eight years.

11 Howe, in the Historical Collections of New Jersey, page 101, records one or two incidents of this incursion which were related to him by a person who was a resident there at the time. He said the British officers dined at the house of Francis Hopkinson, one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence, who, with his family, was absent at the time. A young lady, eighteen years old, named Mary Comely, provided the dinner for them. While they were dining, she was informed that the soldiers were robbing the houses of her mother and grandmother, on the opposite side of the Street. She went in, and stealthily cut a piece from the skirt of one of the soldiers’ coats. This she handed to the commander, and by it he detected the thief. By this means the property of her relations and some neighbors was restored. A Whig, in order to save his property, slew a sheep, and made a good dinner for the soldiers; but, before the meal was ready, the bugle sounded for the troops to form in line. The dinner was partaken of by Colonel Baylor and his light horse, who arrived toward evening.

12 Trenton is the capital of New Jersey, situated upon the east bank of the Delaware, at the Falls, thirty miles from Philadelphia. The first settlements were made by Quakers, on both sides of the river, about 1679. The region in the vicinity of the Falls was called by the Delaware Indians, Sankhican, a name signifying gun or firelock, from the circumstance that a tribe of Mohawks, who used guns, occupied that spot. A purchase of a large tract of land lying on both sides of the Assanpink was made by Colonel William Trent, of Philadelphia, in 1714, and from him Trent Town or Trenton derives its name.

13 It was at this time that the close and confidential intimacy which existed between Washington and Colonel Joseph Reed was disturbed by a letter from Lee to the latter. It will be remembered that Reed was with Washington at Cambridge during the siege of Boston, and was the most confidential friend of the commander-in-chief. On the 21st of November he wrote a letter to Lee, from Hackensack, in which, pointedly alluding to Washington, he complained of the indecision of officers, at the same time complimenting Lee for his opposite quality. This letter was answered in a tone and spirit little calculated to command the respect of Washington for either party. Reed had left camp before its arrival, and, as usual, his letters were opened by the commander-in-chief. In this way the latter became acquainted with its contents. Free explanations were made, and mutual confidence was afterward restored, which continued through life.

14 Following the account of Wilkinson, in his Memoirs (who was with Lee at the time), historians say that a Tory communicated the fact of Lee’s presence at White’s Tavern to Colonel Harcourt. There is no positive evidence that such was the fact; on the contrary, it is asserted, in the Historical Collections of New Jersey, that one of the compilers of that work was informed by Colonel J. W. Drake, of Mendham, that the individual was a Mr. Mackelwraith, an elder of a Presbyterian church, who was surrounded in the road by Harcourt and his men, pressed into service, and compelled to show them Lee’s quarters. When the assailants arrived, the guard were sunning themselves on the south side of the house, and were suddenly separated from their arms; hence the feebleness of their resistance.

15 Mr. James, the English novelist, now (1851) residing in this country, informed a friend of the writer that he possesses a manuscript drawing of Colonel Harcourt, and of the horse which he rode on that occasion. The horse lived to the extraordinary age of fifty years.

16 Charles Lee was born in Wales in 1731. He was the son of General John Lee of the British army. He was a commissioned officer in the army of George II. at a very early age (some say eleven years), and ardently pursued military knowledge. He acquired many of the Continental languages. He came to America in 1756, and distinguished himself in the wars with the French and Indians. He dwelt, for a time, with the Mohawks, and was made a chief of the tribe, under the name, in the Mohawk dialect, of Boiling Water. In 1762 he bore a colonel’s commission, and served under Burgoyne in Portugal. After engaging for a while in political strife in England, he went to the Continent, and during three years, from 1770, he rambled all over Europe. He was received with favor by the great, and finally became aid to Poniatowski, king of Poland. For two years he basked in that monarch’s favor, and then went, with the king’s embassador, to Turkey. From Constantinople he went to Paris, and in 1773 again came to America. He became acquainted with General Gates, and, through his persuasions, purchased a tract of land in Berkley county, Virginia. Resigning a commission which he held in the British army, he accepted one from Congress when the Continental army was organized in the summer of 1775. He accompanied Washington to Cambridge, and from that period until his capture in December, 1776, he was engaged in very active service, particularly at the South. In May, 1778, he was exchanged for General Prescott, who was captured on Rhode Island, and within a month afterward he was engaged in the fierce battle of Monmouth. In that conflict he was disobedient to the commands of the chief, and was arrested for his misconduct. His trial resulted in his suspension, a verdict which gave general satisfaction, for it was believed that he was aiming at supreme command. The verdict was confirmed by Congress in 1780, and he left the army. He lived a while at Berkley, morose and secluded. He finally went to Philadelphia, and took lodgings in a house now known as the "Slate-roof House," once the residence of William Penn, where he died, soon afterward, in poverty and obscurity. His death occurred on the 2d of October, 1782, at the age of fifty-one. General Lee was a brilliant man in many things, but his life exhibited a most perfect specimen of antitheses of character. He was bad in morals and manners, profane in language, and neither feared or loved God or man. He wrote his will a few days before his death, in which he bequeathed his soul to the Almighty, and his body to the earth, saying, "I desire most earnestly that I may not be buried in any church or churchyard, or within a mile of any Presbyterian or Anabaptist meeting-house; for, since I have resided in this country, I have kept so much bad company when living, that I do not choose to continue it when dead." His last words on his death-bed were, "Stand by me, my brave grenadiers!" He was buried in Christ Church-yard, Philadelphia, with military honors. Quite a large concourse of citizens attended his funeral.

Mrs. Mercy Warren seems to have formed a correct estimate of Lee’s character from her own observations on the occasion of his dining with herself and husband at Watertown, while the army was at Cambridge. In a letter to Samuel Adams, she speaks of him as "plain in his person to a degree of ugliness; careless even to unpoliteness; his garb ordinary; his voice rough; his manners rather morose; yet sensible, learned, judicious, and penetrating." Such is the character of Lee which I received from the lips of Mrs. Hamilton, who expressively called him "a crabbed man."

17 Among the prominent men who had espoused the Republican cause at the commencement and now abandoned it, was Tucker, president of the New Jersey convention which had sanctioned the Declaration of Independence, and Joseph Galloway, a member of the first Continental Congress. For ten days after the issuing of the proclamation, two or three hundred persons a day came in to take the oath of allegiance to the British crown. Their disappointment is mentioned on page 308, vol. i.

18 Although the Americans had generally suffered defeat, yet, from a summary of prisoners taken by each party, during 1776, given in Sparks’s Life and Writings of Washington (iv., 547), the Americans were quite successful in making captures. The number of American prisoners taken by the British was 4854; the number of British taken by the Americans, 2860; making a difference in favor of the enemy of 1994. In this statement is not included the 431 Americans captured at the Cedars, but includes the Hessians taken at Trenton. The number of American officers taken was 304 – staff 25; privates, 4101 total, 4430.

In addition to men, the Americans lost, according to Gordon (ii., 131), 12 mortars and cannons of brass, and 235 of iron; 23,979 empty shells, and 17,122 filled; 2684 double-headed shot; a large quantity of grapeshot; 2800 muskets; 400,000 cartridges; 16 barrels of powder; a quantity of bar iron; 500 intrenching tools; 4 covered wagons; 200 hand-harrows, carts, crows, mantelets, chevaux-de-frize, &c.; 4000 barrels of flour, at Forts Washington and Lee; baggage, tents, and a large quantity of other stores.

19 In a letter to Governor Trumbull, of Connecticut, written on the 14th of December, six days after he crossed the Delaware, he said, alluding to the approach of Gates with a considerable force, "They may, in conjunction with my present force and that under General Lee, enable us to attempt a stroke upon the forces of the enemy, who lie a good deal scattered, and to all appearance in a state of security. A lucky blow in this quarter would be fatal to them, and would most certainly rouse the spirits of the people, which are quite sunk by our late misfortunes." – Writings of Washington, iv., 220, 221.

General Greene, to whom Washington communicated his plans, wrote to Governor Cooke, of Rhode Island, on the 21st, "We are now on the west side of the Delaware. Our force is small when collected together; but, small as it is, I hope we shall give the enemy a stroke in a few days. Should fortune favor the attack, it may put a stop to General Howe’s progress." Colonel Reed wrote to Washington on the 21st, "Will it not be possible, my dear general, for your troops, or such part of them as can act with advantage, to make a diversion, or something more, at or about Trenton?" – Ibid., 542, 543.

20 Each soldier was to have a bounty of twenty dollars, besides an allotment of land, at the end of the war, to all who survived, or to the families of those who should fall in the service. The allotment of a common soldier was to be one hundred acres; of an ensign, one hundred and fifty; of a lieutenant, two hundred; a captain, three hundred; a major, four hundred; a lieutenant colonel, four hundred and fifty; and a colonel, five hundred. This allotment was to be extended only to those who enlisted "during the war."

21 A rumor having gone abroad that Congress was about to disperse, that body resolved that Washington should be desired to contradict "the false and malicious report spread by the enemies of America," in his general orders. The commander-in-chief, in a letter to the President of Congress from Trenton Falls, written on the 12th, wisely declined publishing such refutation, and gave good reasons for his course. "It was a fortunate circumstance," says Sparks (Washington, iv., 210), "that General Washington did not publish this resolve to the army, for, the next day after it was passed, Congress actually adjourned from Philadelphia, to assemble again in Baltimore." The resolution was transmitted to Washington by the secretary of Congress, but it does not appear among the published proceedings of that body.

22 Parliamentary Register, xi., p. 260, 362.

23 Ramsay says that Colonel Rall, being under some apprehension for the safety of Trenton, applied to General Grant for a re-enforcement. That officer, partaking of the confidence of others, said to the messenger, "Tell the colonel he is very safe. I will undertake to keep the peace in New Jersey with a corporal’s guard."

24 By the adjutant’s return on the 22d of December, the army of Washington amounted to ten thousand one hundred and six men. Of this number, five thousand three hundred and ninety-nine were sick, on command elsewhere, or on furlough, leaving an effective force of four thousand seven hundred and seven. To these must be added the effective men of Lee’s division and the Pennsylvania militia.

25 Washington occupied the house now (1848) owned by Dr. Lee, on the west side of the creek; General Greene was at the large brick house, now Hough’s Hotel; and General Mercer was at Mr. Keith’s, a little out of the town. It is related that on the morning of the day when the Americans marched to M‘Conkey’s Ferry, General Mercer told Mrs. Keith that he dreamed, the previous night, that he had been attacked and overpowered by a huge black bear. Mercer was killed by the British and Hessians at Princeton a few days afterward, and those who knew of his dream superstitiously regarded it as a premonition of his fate.

26 John Cadwalader was a native of Philadelphia. He was a member of the Pennsylvania Convention in 1775, and was twice appointed brigadier by Congress, but declined the honor. He participated in the battles of Princeton, Brandywine, Germantown, and Monmouth. He fought a duel with General Conway, the quarrel which led to it growing out of the intrigue of that officer with Gates and others against Washington. Conway was badly but not mortally wounded. Cadwalader removed to Maryland after the war, and became a member of its State Legislature. He died on the 10th of February, 1786, aged forty-three years. He was a gentleman of large fortune, and dispensed its blessings with a liberal hand. He has many descendants in Philadelphia and vicinity.

27 The name of this officer is spelled, by different writers, Rohl, * Ralle, Roll, Rhalle, § Rhal, ¦ Rahl, Rawle, ** Rall, ††

* Washington. Botta. Gordon. § Stedman. ¦ Mrs. Warren. Sparks. ** Marshall. †† Manuscript parole.

28 Gordon, ii., 152. Stedman, i., 231.

29 Among the most prominent and active men engaged in ferrying the army, tradition has preserved the names of Uriah Slack, William Green, and David Laning.

30 Captain Washington was afterward greatly distinguished as colonel of a corps of cavalry in the campaigns of the South. James Monroe was afterward President of the United States. Both officers were slightly wounded while performing this exploit.

31 This is a frame building standing upon Warren Street, opposite Perry, near the corner of Bank Alley. The buildings on the left are also of ante-Revolutionary origin. This house was a tavern at the time, kept by Stacey Potts, the grandfather of Stacey G. and Joseph C. Potts, Esqrs., of Trenton. In a pane of glass, in the front window on the left of the front door, lower story, may be seen a hole made by a bullet, shot during the battle. Colonel Rall died in the front room in the second story, immediately over this window. It is related that a daughter of Mr. Potts, who was at a neighbor’s when the firing commenced, was running toward her father’s house, when a musket-ball struck her comb from her head and slightly injured her scalp.

32 The warmest of the conflict took place near the junction of Warren and Perry Streets, and the Presbyterian church in Second Street. The enemy laid down their arms on the field between the Presbyterian church and Park Place, then called the Old Iron-works.

33 The name of this officer is variously given. Washington, in his dispatch to the President of Congress, wrote it Ewing; Marshall, in his Life of Washington, spells it Irvine; Wilkinson, in his Memoirs, has it Irvin; Botta, Irwin; and Gordon, Erwing.

Ewing is the correct name. He was born in Lancaster county, Pennsylvania, in 1736. He commenced his military career under Braddock in 1755, and was with that general when he was slain. He was a brigadier general of the Pennsylvania militia at the commencement of the Revolution, but did not enter the regular army. He was vice-president of the commonwealth, under President Dickinson, in 1782, and was several times member of the State Legislature. He died at his country-seat, in Hellam township in March, 1806, aged seventy years.

34 The regiments which surrendered were those of Anspach, Knyphausen, and Rall. The flag here alluded to is in the possession of George Washington Parke Custis, Esq., of Arlington House, Virginia, who has deposited it, with the flag surrendered at Yorktown, and other relics, in the museum at Alexandria, Virginia. Drawings, with descriptions of these flags, will be found in another part of this work.

35 At the head-quarters of Washington, at Newtown, the captive Hessian officers signed the following parole of honor. I copied it, with the accompanying signatures, from the original among Gates’s papers, in the collections of the New York Historical Society.


"We, the Subscribers, Hessian Officers, made Prisoners of War by the American Army, under Command of his Excellency, General Washington, at Trenton, on the 26th inst., being allowed Our Liberty, under such Restrictions as to place as may be from time to time appointed, do give Our parole of Honour, that we will remain at the place, and within the limits appointed for us by his Excellency the General, the Honorable Congress, Council of Safety, or Commissary of Prisoners of War, Peaceably behaving ourselves, and by no way Send or give Intelligence to the British or Hessian Army, or speak or do anything disrespectful or Injurious to the American States while we remain Prisoners of War.

"We will also restrain our Servants and Attendants who are allowed to remain with us, as far as in our power, to the same Conditions.

"Newtown, December 30th, 1776."



The following are the names, in English, in the order in which they were signed: F. Scheffer, lieutenant colonel; J. A. Von Hanstein, major; A. C. Steding, captain; Keller, lieutenant; Piel, lieutenant; Graebe, ensign; Von Zengen, ensign; Von Hobe, ensign; J. J. Malthaus, major; Von Biesenrodt, captain; Von Loewenstein, captain; Brubach, captain; Fobbe, lieutenant; Kinen, lieutenant; F. Fisher, lieutenant of artillery; Fleck, ensign; Von Drack, ensign; Kleinsmith, ensign; Schroeder, ensign; Carl. Fried. Füerer, ensign, regiment Knyphausen; Brethaur, lieutenant colonel Rall grenadiers. The last two officers signed each a separate parole, dated at Trenton Falls, one on the 27th, and the other on the 30th of December, 1776. Kleinsmith and Füerer afterward joined the Americans, and were hung in effigy by the British in New York.

36 This is a copy, by permission, of a picture by Flagg, in the possession of Joseph C. Potts. Esq., of Trenton. On the right {original text has "left".} is seen Generals Washington and Greene; in the center is Mrs. Potts, and near her stands her husband. On the left Colonel Rall reclines upon a couch, and behind him, supporting his pillow, is his servant. I was informed that the portrait of Rall was painted from a description given by a person who knew him, and who pronounced the likeness good, as he remembered him.

37 Stedman (a British officer) says that the Hessians felt themselves so secure at Trenton that they neglected almost every service necessary for security. "When Rhalle," he says, "endeavored to collect his troops, many of his men were absent on pillaging parties; and those who were on the spot were more busily employed in securing their plunder in wagons than in putting the town in a proper state of defense." – History of the American War, i., 332.

38 The following is the preamble and resolution:


"This Congress, having maturely considered the present crisis, and having perfect reliance on the wisdom, vigor, and uprightness of General Washington, do hereby

"Resolve, That General Washington shall be, and he is hereby, vested with full, ample, and complete powers to raise and collect together, in the most speedy and effectual manner, from any or all of these United States, sixteen battalions of infantry, in addition to those already voted by Congress; to appoint officers for the said battalions of infantry; to raise, officer, and equip three thousand light horse, three regiments of artillery, and a corps of engineers, and to establish their pay; to apply to any of the states for such aid of the militia as he shall judge necessary; to form such magazines, and in such places, as he shall think proper; to displace and appoint all officers under the rank of brigadier general, and to fill up all vacancies in every other department in the American army; to take, wherever he may be, whatever he may want for the use of the army, if the inhabitants will not sell it, allowing a reasonable price for the same; to arrest and confine persons who refuse to take the Continental currency, or are otherwise disaffected to the American cause, and return to the states of which they are citizens their names, and the nature of their offenses, together with the witnesses to prove them.

"That the foregoing powers be vested in General Washington for and during the term of six months from the date hereof, unless sooner determined by Congress." – Journals of Congress, ii., 475


This resolve was transmitted to Washington by the committee of Congress who remained in Philadelphia when that body adjourned to Baltimore. "Happy is it for this country," they wrote to Washington, "that the general of their forces can safely be intrusted with the most unlimited power, and neither personal security, liberty, nor property be in the least degree endangered thereby." – MS. letter, Dec. 31st, 1776, quoted by Sparks, iv., 552. When Congress adjourned, on the 12th, they gave Washington equal powers, but did not define them.

39 Morris had sent Washington a small sum of money two days before, and these transactions are doubtless those alluded to by the writer of the life of Robert Morris, in the fifth volume of the Biography of the Signers of the Declaration of Independence, who erroneously says, that "it (the money) enabled General Washington to gain the signal victory over the hireling Hessians at Trenton," &c. The sum sent on the 28th of December was 410 Spanish dollars, two English crowns, half a French crown, and ten and a half English shillings.

40 See a notice of Mr. Howland, of Providence, in connection with this event, on page 631, vol. i.

41 I have not met with any official account of the number killed on this occasion. A writer in the Connecticut Journal of January 22, 1777, says the enemy were "obliged to retreat and give over the attempt, after suffering great loss, supposed at least 150 killed." In a minute account by an eye-witness, published in the Princeton Whig of November 4, 1842, the writer says "the creek was nearly filled with their dead."

42 This view is from the north side of the Assanpink, a few rods above the bridge, looking south. The bridge, seen upon the right, is built of stone, and very strong, and is upon the site of the old one. The creek is curbed by a dam near the bridge, and forms the sheet of water seen in the picture. The old "Stacey Mill" of the Revolution, the largest building in the sketch, was quite dilapidated from the effects of fire and flood, when I was there. The two old houses on the left of it are of stone, covered with stucco, and were there at the time in question. On the bank, between them and the house of Mr. Timothy Abbott, seen on the extreme left, was a building used as a tavern, in the Revolution. It was demolished a few years ago. Along the high bank, from the mill eastward to the rail-way, now covered with houses and gardens, and also westward, some distance toward the Delaware, the Americans were encamped. The bank was being terraced when I visited Trenton, and will, in time, be a beautiful spot.

43 The venerable Mr. Howland, of Rhode Island, already mentioned, who was with the army in this retreat, informed me that their progress was very much retarded by the stumps of trees in this new road. Many were bruised by stumbling over them, and some of the wheels of the baggage-trains were broken. This is known as the Quaker Road. But for this necessary slowness of march, the Americans would have reached Princeton before dawn, and very probably been able to push on and capture the British stores at New Brunswick.

44 This ancient stone building (1 on the map of the Princeton battle, page 28) is yet standing, and used by the Quakers as a place of worship. This sketch is from the yard in front, looking north. The woods behind which the Americans marched, after crossing the bridge, yet remain; and Stony Brook, made subservient to the wants of the Delaware and Raritan Canal, as a feeder, is but little changed since its music was mingled with the din of battle.

45 The story went abroad, at that time, that General Mercer was cruelly bayoneted after he had delivered up his sword; but his dying assertion that he did not give up his weapon until he was powerless to wield it, exonerates the British soldiery from this foul accusation.

46 Washington first heard that Mercer was killed on the battle-field, and it was not until he reached Somerset Court-house that he was apprised of the true situation of that officer. He immediately dispatched young Lewis, with a flag, to Cornwallis, requesting that every possible attention might be paid to the wounded general, and asking permission for Lewis to remain with him. Cornwallis cheerfully complied with the request.

47 On the 14th of January, 1777, the body of General Mercer was conveyed to Philadelphia, and buried in Christ Church-yard. Over it was placed a plain marble slab, with the simple inscription, "In memory of Gen. HUGH MERCER, who fell at Princeton, Jan. 3d, 1777." There his dust reposed until 1840, when his countrymen of the St. Andrew’s and the Thistle Society removed his remains to Laurel Hill Cemetery, and erected a beautiful marble monument to his memory, near the chapel. The funeral ceremonies took place on the 26th of November. WILLIAM B. REED, Esq., pronounced a eulogium on the occasion. The pall was borne by Commodores Read, Biddle, and Stewart, and Colonel Miller. The First Troop of City Cavalry, which took part in the battle of Princeton, composed the guard of honor. There are no survivors of the original corps.


The monument was made by John Struthers and Son, Philadelphia, and bears the following inscriptions, which give the most important incidents of his public life. East side, or principal front: "Dedicated to the Memory of GENERAL HUGH MERCER, who fell for the Sacred Cause of Human Liberty, and American Independence, in the Battle of Princeton. He poured out his blood for a Generous Principle." West side: "GENERAL MERCER., a Physician of Fredericksburg, in Virginia, was distinguished for his skill and learning, his gentleness and decision, his refinement and humanity, his elevated honor, and his devotion to the great cause of Civil and Religious Liberty." North side: "GENERAL MERCER, a native of Scotland, was an assistant Surgeon in the Battle of Culloden, and the companion of WASHINGTON in the Indian Wars of 1755 and 1756. He received a Medal from the Corporation of Philadelphia, for his courage and conduct in the Expedition against the Indian Settlement of Kittaning." * South side: "The St. Andrew’s Society of Philadelphia offer this humble tribute to the memory of an illustrious BROTHER. When a grateful posterity shall bid the trophied memorial rise to the martyrs who sealed with their blood the charter of an Empire’s liberties, there shall not be wanted a monument to him whom WASHINGTON mourned as the worthy and brave MERCER." General Mercer was about fifty-six years of age when he was slain.

* Dr. Mercer resided at Fredericksburg when the Revolution broke out. He espoused the cause, left his profession, commanded three regiments of minute-men in 1775, and in 1776 drilled and organized large bodies of Virginia militia. On the 5th of June, 1776, congress gave him the commission of a brigadier. Congress resolved (see Journals, iii., 98) that a monument should be erected to his memory at Fredericksburg, and that his youngest son should be educated at the expense of the Republic. The monument is yet to be erected. The son (Colonel Hugh Mercer, of Fredericksburg) was educated, and yet (1854) survives, at the age of about fourscore.

48 This view, looking north, is from the carriage gate of Mr. John Clarke, owner of the house in which General Mercer died, which is situated about seventy rods from the Trenton turnpike. That dwelling is represented in the foreground of the picture, on the extreme right. The distant view includes almost the whole field of action. Near the center of the picture, over the head of the dark figure, is seen the house of William Clark, and his out-buildings. The barn, a little more to the left, with a tree in front, is upon the spot from whence Mercer rushed forward to the hedge-fence. That fence was upon the line of the present turnpike, denoted in the sketch by the fence passing down the slope beyond the large tree on the extreme left. The "high ground" for which both parties were aiming, to secure advantage, is seen in the extreme distance. The dark spot between the tree in the second field and the barn denotes the spot where Mercer fell. The house of William Clark, in the distance, is about a quarter of a mile from the one in the foreground, where Mercer died. The hollow between the two houses was the space between the belligerents when Washington advanced to the support of Mercer. The place of conflict is about a mile and a quarter south of Princeton. The turnpike passes directly through it.

49 This substantial stone bridge, over Stony Brook, is upon the site of the wooden one destroyed on the 3d of January, 1777. The old mill on the left is now owned by Josiah S. Worth, a son of the proprietor during the Revolution. This sketch was made from the road on the bank of the stream, along which Mercer and his detachment marched to secure the bridge.

50 Major Kelley continued cutting away a portion of the bridge while the balls of the enemy were menacing his life. He was cutting away a log on which some of the timbers rested, when it gave way sooner than was expected, and he was precipitated into the stream. His men, supposing him to be lost, fled to Princeton. He got out of the water; but his frozen clothes and exhaustion so retarded his progress, that he was made a prisoner by the enemy.

51 This cannon is now in the center of the Campus, in the rear of the College of New Jersey, at Princeton. It was one of the pieces which Washington was unable to carry away with him.

52 Mr. Custis, in his Recollections of the Life and Character of Washington, gives a graphic picture of the scene when the commander-in-chief brought the militia and riflemen into action. "The discomfited Americans rally on the instant, and form into line. The enemy halt, and dress their line. The American chief is between the adverse posts, as though he had been placed there a target for both. The arms of both are leveled. Can escape from death be possible? Fitzgerald (Washington’s aid), horror-struck at the death of his beloved commander, dropped the reins upon his horse’s neck, and drew his hat over his face, that he might not see him die. A roar of musketry succeeds, and then a shout. It was the shout of victory. The aid-de-camp ventures to raise his eyes. Oh, glorious sight! the enemy are broken and flying; while dimly, amid the glimpses of the smoke, is seen the chief alive, unharmed, and without a wound, waving his hat and cheering his comrades to the pursuit. Colonel Fitzgerald, celebrated as one of the finest horsemen in the American army, now dashed his rowels in his charger’s flanks, and, heedless of the dead and dying in his way, flew to the side of the chief, exclaiming, ‘Thank God! your excellency is safe!’ while the favorite aid, a gallant and warm-hearted son of Erin, a man of thews and sinews (and albeit unused to the melting mood), gave loose to his feelings, and wept like a child, for joy. Washington, ever calm amid scenes of the greatest excitement, affectionately grasped the hand of his aid and friend, and then ordered, ‘Away, my dear colonel, and bring up the troops; the day is our own!’ "

53 A small company of fifteen or twenty militia, having learned the situation of this baggage, resolved to capture it. After dark, they arranged themselves among the trees, in a semicircular form, around the place where the soldiers were guarding their wagons, and, on a concerted signal, they set up a tremendous shout, and commenced firing. The British, believing the assailants to be as strong in numbers as themselves, and taken completely by surprise, retreated with a few of the wagons that were fit for traveling, and fled to New Brunswick. Those left behind were taken to the American camp, and found to contain, what the army greatly needed, woolen clothes.

54 It is said that Frederic the Great of Prussia declared that the achievements of Washington and his little band of compatriots, between the 25th of December and the 4th of January, were the most brilliant of any recorded in the annals of military achievements.

55 Morgan afterward procured an inquiry into his conduct by a committee of Congress, and was honorably acquitted. Doctor JOHN MORGAN was born in Philadelphia in 1735. He completed his medical studies under Dr. Redman, and entered the army as surgeon and lieutenant during the French and Indian war. He went to Europe, to prosecute his studies, in 1760, where he attended the lectures of the celebrated Hunter. He was admitted to the degree of Doctor of Medicine in 1764. He returned to Philadelphia in 1765, and was elected professor of the theory and practice of medicine in the medical school founded by Dr. Shippen and others. He was ever active in literary and scientific projects. He was appointed by Congress director general and physician-in-chief to the general hospital in 1775, in place of Dr. Church, and immediately repaired to head-quarters at Cambridge. He was removed from office, without just cause, in 1777. * He died October 15, 1789, aged about fifty-four years. Dr. Benjamin Rush was his successor in the professor’s chair.

* The following are the names of the principal officers in the medical department, appointed on the 11th of April, 1777 William Shippen, Jun., director general: Walter Jones, physician general of the hospital in the middle department; Benjamin Rush, surgeon general of the hospital in the middle department; John Cochran, physician and surgeon general of the army in the middle department; Isaac Forster, deputy director general of the hospital in the eastern department; Amini Ruhannah Cutter, physician general of the hospital in the eastern department; Philip Turner, surgeon general of the same; William Burnet, physician and surgeon general of the army in the eastern department; Jonathan Potts, deputy director general of the hospital in the northern department; Malachi Treat, physician general of the same; Dr. Forque, surgeon general of the same; John Bartlett, physician and surgeon general of the army in the northern department.

56 WILLIAM SHIPPEN was a graduate of the College of New Jersey, at Princeton, in the class of 1754, He completed his medical education at Edinburgh. He delivered the first lectures on anatomy ever pronounced in America, at Philadelphia, in 1764; and on the finishing of the medical school in that city, he was appointed its first professor of anatomy, in 1765. He first addressed ten students; * he lived to address two hundred and fifty at one time. He was appointed director general of the medical department on the 11th of April, 1777. He resigned his professorship in the medical college, in 1806, into the hands of his colleague, Dr. Wistar. Dr. Shippen died at Germantown, July the 11th, 1808, aged seventy-four years.

* Dr. Shippen experienced a great deal of persecution when he first commenced his lectures on anatomy, a good deal of feeling against him having been excited by the utterance of horrid tales respecting his dissections. The public mind was filled with ideas such as made the burden of the Ghost’s Complaint

"The body-snatchers! they have come

And made a snatch at me;
It’s very hard them kind of men
Won’t let a body be!
Don’t go to weep upon my grave,
And think that there I be;
They haven’t left an atom there
Of my anatomy!"

57 JAMES CRAIK was a native of Scotland. He accompanied Washington in the expedition against the French and Indians in 1754; and in 1755 was with Braddock, and assisted in dressing his wounds. He was director general of the hospital at the siege of Yorktown, in 1781. After the war, Washington invited him to settle near Mount Vernon, and he was the physician of the patriot chief until his death. He died in Fairfax county, Virginia, February 6, 1814, aged eighty-three years.

58 These were Poor, of New Hampshire; Glover, Paterson, and Learned, of Massachusetts; Varnum, of Rhode Island; Jedediah Huntington, of Connecticut; George Clinton, of New York; Wayne, De Haas, Cadwalader, Hand, and Reed, of Pennsylvania; Weeden, Muhlenburg, Woodford, and Scott, of Virginia; Nash, of North Carolina; and Conway, an Irishman by birth, but a Frenchman by education.

59 This sketch is from the lawn in front, which is shaded by venerable pines and other ornamental trees. The mansion stands upon level grounds, beautifully laid out, having carriage entrances from the street. Every thing was covered with snow when I was there, and dreariness prevailed where summer charms delight the visitor.

60 Mrs. Ellett, in an interesting biography of Annis Stockton, the wife of the signer, says that Mrs. Field, her daughter, now residing in Princeton, has several pieces of silver that were in this box. She also relates that when Mrs. Stockton (who was quite a literary lady) heard of the destruction of the library, she remarked that there were two books in it she would like to have saved – the Bible, and Young’s Night Thoughts. Tradition says that these two books were the only ones left. Mrs. Field has in her possession the original portraits of her father and mother. Both were pierced with bayonets. – Women of the Revolution, iii., 16.

61 A biographical sketch of Mr. Stockton may be found among those of the signers of the Declaration of Independence, printed in the Supplement. His portrait is in the frontispiece of this volume.

62 It consisted of four hundred and seventy-four volumes, many of them very rare and of great value. The Hall being used alternately by the American and British troops during the war, a large portion of the books were purloined or destroyed. The few that remained were destroyed by fire in 1802, when the Hall was burned, leaving nothing but the strong walls, which were not materially injured by the fire.

63 David Rittenhouse was born near Germantown, Pennsylvania, on the 8th of April, 1732. His ancestors were from Holland. His early life was spent in agricultural pursuits, and was marked by a love of mathematical studies. Feeble health would not allow him to pursue the labor of a farm, and he became, by self-instruction, a proficient clock and mathematical instrument maker. It was while working at his trade he planned and executed his orrery, a piece of mechanism far superior, for its intended purposes, to any thing before constructed. It was purchased by the College of New Jersey. Another was made by him, after the same model, for the College of Philadelphia. He pursued his trade in that city for several years. His first philosophical publication was an account of his calculations of the transit of Venus, as it was to happen on the 3d of June, 1769. He observed the phenomenon, a spectacle never seen but twice before by an inhabitant of earth, and he was so much affected by its proof of the accuracy of his calculations, that he fainted. He was engaged in government surveys, fixing territorial boundaries, &c., during the Revolution, and became one of the leading practical philosophers of the day. On the death of Franklin in 1791, he was chosen president of the Philosophical Society, which office he held by annual election until his death. He was treasurer of Pennsylvania from 1777 to 1789. In 1792 he was appointed director of the Mint of the United States, but his ill health compelled him to resign the office in 1795. He died on the 26th of June, 1796, aged sixty-four years. His birth-place is yet standing, a mile west of Germantown.

64 As the address delivered to Washington on that occasion may be considered as the heartfelt sentiments of his neighbors and friends, its insertion here, with his reply, seems appropriate. The address was in the following words:


"Again your country commands your care. Obedient to its wishes, unmindful of your ease, we see you again relinquishing the bliss of retirement, and this, too, at a period of life when nature itself seems to authorize a preference of repose!

"Not to extol your glory as a soldier; not to pour forth our gratitude for past services; not to acknowledge the justice of the unexampled honor which has been conferred upon you by the spontaneous and unanimous suffrages of three millions of freemen, in your election to the supreme magistracy, nor to admire the patriotism which directs your conduct, do your neighbors and friends now address you. Themes less splendid, but more endearing, impress our minds. The first and best of citizens must leave us; our aged must lose their ornament; our youth their model; our agriculture its improver; our commerce its friend; our infant academy its protector; our poor their benefactor; and the interior navigation of the Potomac (an event replete with the most extensive utility, already, by your unremitted exertions, brought into partial use) its institutor and promoter.

"Farewell! go, and make a grateful people happy, a people who will be doubly grateful when they contemplate this recent sacrifice for their interest.

"To that Being who maketh and unmaketh at his will, we commend you, and, after the accomplishment of the arduous business to which you are called, may he restore to us again the best of men and the most beloved fellow-citizen!"


To this touching address, Washington, with faltering voice – faltering with emotion – returned the following answer:


"GENTLEMEN, – Although I ought not to conceal, yet I can not describe the painful emotions which I felt in being called upon to determine whether I would accept or refuse the presidency of the United States. The unanimity in the choice, the opinion of my friends communicated from different parts of Europe, as well as America, the apparent wish of those who were not entirely satisfied with the Constitution in its present form, and an ardent desire on my own part to be instrumental in cementing the good-will of my countrymen toward each other, have induced an acceptance. Those who know me best (and you, my fellow-citizens, are, from your situation, in that number) know better than any others my love of retirement is so great that no earthly consideration short of a conviction of duty could have prevailed upon me to depart from my resolution never more to take any share in transactions of a public nature; for, at my age, and in my circumstances, what prospects or advantages could I propose to myself from embarking again on the tempestuous and uncertain ocean of public life!

"I do not feel myself under the necessity of making public declarations in order to convince you, gentlemen, of my attachment to yourselves and regards for your interests. The whole tenor of my life has been open to your inspection, and my past actions, rather than my present declarations, must be the pledge of my future conduct.

"In the mean time, I thank you most sincerely for the expressions of kindness contained in your valedictory address. It is true, just after having bid adieu to my domestic connections, this tender proof of your friendship is but too well calculated still further to awaken my sensibility, and increase my regret at parting from the enjoyments of private life.

"All that now remains for me is to commit myself and you to the protection of that beneficent Being who, on a former occasion, hath happily brought us together after a long and distressing separation. Perhaps the same gracious Providence will again indulge me. Unutterable sensations must, then, be left to more expressive silence, while from an aching heart I bid you all, my affectionate friends and kind neighbors, farewell!"


In the afternoon of the same day, Washington, accompanied by his neighbors, proceeded from Alexandria to Georgetown, where a number of citizens from the State of Maryland had assembled to receive him; and thus he went with escort after escort, formed at different points on his journey. Gray’s Bridge, over the Schuylkill, at Philadelphia, was splendidly decorated with a triumphal arch of laurel, with laurel shrubbery at each end. As Washington passed under it, a civic crown, unperceived by him, was let down upon his head by a youth decorated with sprigs of laurel, and crowds of people lined the avenue to the city through which he passed to a grand reception in Independence Hall.

65 Governor Richard Howell was a native of Delaware. He commanded a New Jersey regiment from 1776 to 1779, when, in consequence of a new arrangement of the army, he resumed the profession of the law. In 1788 he was appointed clerk of the Supreme Court of New Jersey, which office he held until June, 1793, when he was chosen governor of the state. To this office he was elected eight years successively. He died April 28th, 1802, aged forty-seven years.

66 The following is a copy of the note:


"General Washington can not leave this place without expressing his acknowledgments to the matrons and young ladies who received him in so novel and grateful a manner at the triumphal arch in Trenton, and for the exquisite sensation he experienced in that affecting moment. The astonishing contrast between his former and actual situation at the same spot, the elegant taste with which it was adorned for the present occasion, and the innocent appearance of the white-robed choir who met him with the congratulatory song, has made such an impression upon his remembrance as, he assures them, will never be effaced.

"Trenton, April 21st, 1789."


This note was read to the ladies, who were called together at the house of Judge Smith, and then deposited in the hands of that gentleman’s wife. It passed into the hands of Miss Lydia Imlay, his adopted daughter, who preserved it with great care until just before her death, when she gave it to the late Chief-justice Ewing. It was placed in a handsome frame, and is now a precious relic in possession of his family.

The grave of Mr. Armstrong is in the old burial-ground of the Presbyterian church at Trenton. Upon his plain monument is the following inscription:

"Sacred to the memory of the Rev. JAMES FRANCIS ARMSTRONG, thirty years a pastor of the church at Trenton, in union with the church at Maidenhead. Born in Maryland, of pious parents, he received the elements of his classical education under the Rev. John Blair, finished his collegiate studies in the College of New Jersey, under the Rev. Dr. Witherspoon, and was licensed to preach the Gospel in the year 1777. An ardent patriot, he served through the War of Independence as chaplain. In 1790 he was chosen a trustee of the College of New Jersey. A warm and constant friend, a devout Christian, a tender husband and parent, steady in his attentions on the judicatories of the Church, throughout life he was distinguished as a fervent and affectionate minister of the Gospel, and resigned his soul to his Creator and Redeemer on the 19th of January, 1816. ‘Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord.’ Amen! Even so come, Lord Jesus."



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