Trenton | First Battle | Dec 26, 1776

Trenton, NJ

Following total disaster in the New York Campaign, the Continental Army found themselves in Eastern Pennsylvania. Washington set to take the initiative away from General William Howe and take the fight to the enemy. Washington planned to cross the Delaware River and strike an outpost of Hessian soldiers at Trenton, New Jersey. On Christmas night under the light of a full moon, General Washington, 2,400 soldiers, and eighteen cannons crossed the river. 

On the outskirts of Trenton, Washington divided his army into three columns. The right column approached Trenton along the River Road while the center and the left columns entered the town by its two principal roads. The Hessian outposts on the edge of town were quickly overrun, and on cue the main body of troops from all sides rushed pell-mell into Trenton.

Continental artillery sprang into action too, covering the length of the streets and permitting no avenue of escape for the stunned Hessians who poured out of their barracks to repel the Rebels. Close quarters, hand-to-hand fighting raged in the narrow streets of a town now fully awake.

For two hours the battle raged with the Americans never relenting. The Hessians pulled back in as orderly a fashion as they could through the streets of Trenton only to be surrounded by the Americans on the outskirts. Hessian Col. Johann Rall attempted to rally his men, but an American soldier felled Rall, mortally wounding him. The Hessians lost 22 men killed 86 wounded, and close to 900 were taken prisoner.  The Americans suffered only five men wounded. Among the wounded was eighteen-year-old James Monroe, future President of the United States.

Related Battles

New Jersey | December 26, 1776
Result: American Victory
Estimated Casualties