Washington Christmas raid: the defeat of the Hessian mercenaries in Trenton


Washington was one of the first to cross Delaware


Gloomy winter


The fall of 1776 was a real nightmare for the Americans who rebelled against British rule. They were not just beaten hard and kicked out of New York, but driven on. To make matters worse, the Washington army was losing a soldier at a monstrous pace. People painfully experienced setbacks and believed that the struggle for independence seemed to fail. And they fled home - no one wanted to stand trial for treason.

The British acted methodically. Having driven the Americans across the Delaware River and knowing that the enemy is desperately suffering from desertion, they did not rape themselves with cold crossings, but quietly dispersed to the winter apartments in New York. To wait for spring and calmly, with fresh strength, walk to Philadelphia - the informal capital of the rebel colonies. To disperse the Continental Congress and cover the bench.

Washington understood that this could not be allowed. He faced two problems. The need, if not stop, at least slow down this future march of the British, and a bright, albeit tactical victory here and now. The latter is to encourage those who are still left and to recruit new recruits tomorrow, before his army has completely melted.

This could only be done by striking at the right place.

Stir the swamp


Fortunately, the British themselves provided opportunities for such an attack, having diverted the main forces to New York and giving the initiative to the barely alive, as it seemed to them, Americans.

Yes, they could not be destroyed. Begin Washington to beat the British one at a time, as they would leave the winter apartments, they would unite and put an end to it. The American commander understood this. He was not interested in annihilating the enemy, but in the stockpiles he had prepared. One of them was right on the "English" coast of Delaware, in the town of Trenton. The other is in Princeton (20 km) and the third in New Brunswick (another 26 km).

The goals were quite affordable: it was possible to deliver a sudden blow and reach all the stores with a forced march. Having ruined them, it was possible, if not disrupting, then at least slowing down the 1777 campaign for the enemy. And, most importantly, to do all this was obtained by very moderate forces. Warehouses were guarded by relatively small detachments of Hessian mercenaries who did not seriously expect that the Americans, who were beaten in the fall, were capable of at least doing something.

In a word, the moment was perfect, and Washington did not miss it.

Delaware won't stop us


Among other things, he chose a good time - while the enemy celebrated Christmas or moved away from this pleasant event. The Americans began to focus off the coast of Delaware on Christmas Eve - on the evening of December 24. In total, 2400 people were able to gather.

In Trenton they were opposed by about 1500 Hessians - a number that allows us to hope for success. But they still had to be reached. Crossing the river was to be 15 kilometers from Trenton. Today, a bridge has been laid at the crossing point, a park with the saying “Washington Crossing” has been laid out nearby, and the Patriotic Tavern operates at the services of tourists following in Washington's footsteps.

Everything had to be done at night. It all started on the evening of the 25th. At first, everything went briskly, but the gunners slowed down the matter - their 18 guns were regularly stuck in the attacking deep snow. And the ice, wind and Delaware did not speed up the process. But by 4 a.m. on the 26th, the Americans completed the crossing.

All that remained was to attack the Hessians.

Sudden blow


For the speed of the march, the Americans had to split into columns and move to Trenton along two roads. And a real small victory for the still inexperienced fighters: both columns managed to be brought to the city almost simultaneously.

And the Hessians, apparently, continued to shockly celebrate Christmas. At least, the concentration and crossing of the Americans remained an absolute secret for mercenaries from Germany. The garrison headed by Colonel Roll quietly sniffed in bed - so when the Americans entered the city, no one prevented them from placing guns on the largest streets. After that, thinking about some intelligible resistance was naive.


The death of Colonel Roll brushes battalist Don Troyani

It was a complete rout. Roll jumped out into the street and even tried to lead something. But soon fell from the American bullet. After this, the last hopes were lost, and there were three ways out for the Hessians: to die in battle, to flee the city in horror, or to give up. Caught by surprise, the mercenaries were in no hurry to die - only 22 people died. Five hundred managed to escape, and a thousand were captured. The Americans themselves had only two corpses, and even those from frostbite during an unsuccessful crossing.

The Trenton raid ended in crushing success.

There-here


But with the development of this success, everything was not so clear. At least not right away.

Washington received intelligence: superior forces of the Hessians moved towards it. Based on the fact that you can’t take risks with the army, he immediately crossed back over Delaware - since it was easier during the day and near the city, where there were moorings.

But the news turned out to be complete misinformation - in fact, there were no major forces, and all the Hessians in the district fled to New York without looking back.

It would seem that what has been done is done - not to dangle back through not the smallest and quietest river. But the case helped the Americans.


Half-ravaged Americans pounding Hessenians

The fact is that in addition to the main attack, Washington planned auxiliary, but the units assigned to them simply did not master the crossing. And the commander of one of them, burning with shame, now considered this a matter of principle. Therefore, he simply took his people, and, without asking anyone, crossed and occupied the city of Burlington, where he was supposed to get at the very beginning.

Washington could not ignore this - as well as ordering him to cross back without losing authority. Therefore, he came to the aid of a negligent commander along with the main forces. Just in time to meet with the army of British General Cornwallis, arrived in time from New York.

And on the run again


Numerically, both groups were approximately equal, but the absolute superiority in quality was, of course, among professional Englishmen. Fighting with them in the open field was a crazy idea. Therefore, it was worth staying in the city.

The British, deciding to forge the iron while hot, tried to take possession of the latter with a swoop, but the deal failed. Then they decided to spend the night and take up the assault in the morning, more thoroughly. But it was too late — the Americans left at night. Of course, someone had to be left behind — so that they would burn bonfires, make noise and create the false impression that the city was full of soldiers.

When morning came, Cornwallis realized that he had been fooled, and immediately rushed to New Brunswick to defend his warehouses. However, he could not be afraid for them - the Americans were exhausted enough to do something more serious than trying to get into winter apartments somewhere.


House in Morristown, where Washington was headquartered

Washington decided not to cross through Delaware due to the large enemy army, but to reach the town of Morristown, some 50 kilometers from New York, where it would temporarily settle. Cornwallis didn't bother him. After making sure that the warehouses for his army were safe, he returned to New York and began to wait for spring. It seemed to him that the capture of Philadelphia would put an end to all these meaningless throwings.

But thirteen colonies were not Europe and it was impossible to win the war by European methods (through the seizure of the capital). Ahead of the British were only bitter disappointments.
Author:
Photos used:
paintingvalley.com, thegate.boardingarea.com
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  1. Lamata 20 February 2020 06: 38 New
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    Maybe in vain our Catherine 2 did not give our soldiers !!! There would be fewer problems in the world.
    1. svp67 20 February 2020 08: 56 New
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      Quote: Lamata
      There would be fewer problems in the world.

      With huge UK? I think not ... Yes, and you can’t rewrite history
      Americans often note Washington’s particular addiction to alcohol, but apparently, it’s hard to drink real talent ...
      1. Lamata 20 February 2020 09: 18 New
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        Yes, he also smoked weed, sort of. I read the opinion of some art historian that in the portraits of Washington there are several, cunning eyes.)))) For what I bought for that and sell.
      2. Sovpadenie 20 February 2020 09: 24 New
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        And Lincoln, in general, fought with vampires. There was a movie like President Lincoln: The Vampire Hunter. Bekmambetova, it seems))
        1. Lamata 20 February 2020 10: 46 New
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          If it weren’t for American films, there would be no more peace. and so they always save our Earth.
    2. Bersaglieri 20 February 2020 13: 39 New
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      Catherine acted wisely by signing Armed Neutrality. In principle, for 150 years subsequent C-USA were a faithful ally of RI
      1. Lamata 20 February 2020 16: 58 New
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        declaration of armed neutrality 1780, plus 150 years - 1930. , remind you of the REV, VOSR and the civil war both after and US policy towards RI and the USSR.
        1. Bersaglieri 20 February 2020 17: 24 New
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          In the REV, the “English woman spoiled”, in the United States joint venture “lost their way”, but I think no one will deny the US role under Roosevelt in the industrialization of the USSR? GAZ, DneproGES, Magnitogorsk, etc. etc. The wise decision was: to buy assets "at a minimum cost" (Depression)
          1. Lamata 20 February 2020 17: 53 New
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            and before the REV and during the REV, the Americans financed themselves japs, the Grazhdasnskaya war and the devastation later also distinguished themselves. A new course, yes it was, but there was a great depression, so through gritted teeth, but the amers had to turn to us.
    3. gsev 22 February 2020 12: 41 New
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      There would be one SSHA state and Great Britain, which could subjugate the whole world at the beginning of the 20th century. Perhaps Germany did not dare to start World War I if the United States had human and industrial resources in the Entente since 1.

      Quote: Lamata
      Maybe in vain our Catherine 2 did not give our soldiers !!!
  2. Krasnodar 20 February 2020 08: 26 New
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    Thanks, as always, interesting
  3. Sovpadenie 20 February 2020 09: 18 New
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    Separatism in its purest form. But as at all times, history is written by the winners. The separatists-American colonies won. It is generally accepted that they defended their independence. The separatism of the southern states, resulting in the Civil War in 1861, is a struggle to prevent the collapse of the North American state. And this, of course, not only in American history
    1. Arslan Ali_2 20 February 2020 21: 08 New
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      Separatism of the southern states, resulting in the Civil War in 1861
      Not the separatism of the south, but the desire of the north to obtain natural resources and territories led to the outbreak of the Civil War.
    2. gsev 22 February 2020 12: 49 New
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      Quote: Sovpadenie
      Separatism in its purest form.

      But in my opinion this is a progressive course of history. And in the 1st American Revolution and in 2 more progressive democratic ideas won. In the beginning, the state freest from remnants of feudalism arose, then slavery was abolished. In any society, the struggle between the new and the old may not end in the complete victory of the new or old. Often supporters of different ideas create their own states. And then whose ideas are more correctly seen with the passage of time. Today, no legitimist is trying to "close America." .
  4. bubalik 20 February 2020 09: 33 New
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    At least, the concentration and crossing of the Americans remained an absolute secret for mercenaries from Germany. Colonel Roll, who led the garrison, quietly sniffed in bed - therefore

    ,,, not quite asleep repeat
    ,,, Roll was sure that Washington would not dare to leave Pennsylvania, and if it did take a chance, then the brave Hessians would easily raise the "hillbilly" with hostility. In addition, Roll did not want to spoil his soldiers Christmas and arrange them with alarm in such terrible bad weather.

    ,,, when in the evening of December 25, 1776 he received a dispatch with the news that the enemy detachment was crossing the Delaware a few miles from Trenton, he did not even interrupt the chess game, and he casually put the dispatch in his camisole’s pocket.

    George Washington forcing the Delaware River 25 in December 1776. Artist E. Letse. 1851
    1. Krasnodar 20 February 2020 13: 14 New
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      First marins however laughing River, true
  5. Looking for 20 February 2020 16: 58 New
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    as an absolute majority. he doesn’t understand who is swinging here. that such an article is a product of an ideological attack on the Russian Federation.
    1. karabass 20 February 2020 17: 25 New
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      That's for sure! And the article about Alexander the Great is generally a humiliation of the honor and dignity of the deputies of the State Duma of the Russian Federation
    2. gsev 22 February 2020 12: 52 New
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      Quote: Seeker
      ideological offensive in the Russian Federation

      Why? For example, Strelkova can be considered the reincarnation of the hero of the war for US independence Lafayette. The USA during the war of independence has much in common with the Lugansk and Donetsk republics.
  6. faterdom 20 February 2020 20: 20 New
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    Quote: Lamata
    Maybe in vain our Catherine 2 did not give our soldiers !!! There would be fewer problems in the world.

    At the same time, we had a Pugachev riot. Senseless and merciless. And the scale of the fighting is not a match for Washington with its 2 thousand versus 1.5 thousand.
  7. rigoletto2001 23 February 2020 21: 24 New
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    The author, do not abandon the topic. Continue. In the war of insurgents with the Parliament (King George, like everyone else, reigned and didn’t rule), I am on the side of the Loyalists. But not because of any prejudice or dislike of the Americans. I’m just interested in the other side , and not so much the royal troops as the various supporters of the crown in the colonies, the militia units of the loyalists and their contribution to the war, the fates of these people and their families, many of whom were forced to emigrate.