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Christmas 1776 – The Battle of Trenton
Posted on December 21, 2012, by
Christmas 1776 – The Battle of Trenton
“Washington at the Battle of Trenton,” engraving by Illman Brothers, from painting by E.L. Henry, 1870.
Christmas of 1776 marked the first major victory for the Continental Army. Several months earlier, General Washington’s troops lost New York City to the British and eventually retreated south. The British army chased the Americans through New Jersey and Delaware en route to Philadelphia, the Continental capital. The situation was made even more dire by the prospect of a vastly reduced number of Continental troops after December 31, when enlistments were due to expire.
In early December the Continental Army crossed the Delaware and destroyed or captured all watercraft for a 75-mile stretch along the river to deter the British from crossing. The British leaders evidently thought the Continental Army was no threat, and General Howe decided to move his men into winter quarters in Trenton, Pennington and Bordentown, New Jersey, with a base of operations in Brunswick.
Washington decided to make a bold move and attack Trenton, where Hessian troops were wintering. On December 25, the Americans formed into three divisions and were to cross the river at three separate locations once night fell. Washington personally led one division. The weather was poor. Ice chunks were floating in the river, and the falling snow soon turned to sleet and hail driven by a bitterly cold wind. Once the troops – many lacking warm winter clothing and shoes – crossed the river, they marched nine miles to the town of Trenton. The Hessian soldiers were celebrating Christmas in a traditional German style, never expecting an attack on the morning of December 26.
The Continental Army’s overwhelming victory at Trenton had several important consequences. The Americans managed to capture more than 900 men and their weapons and accouterments, and lost only two soldiers. British General Howe was so stunned by the outcome of Trenton that he sent for General Cornwallis, who was about to board a ship for England, to return to New Jersey to command the army. For the American cause, Trenton was a great morale booster, and General Washington became an overnight hero.
MEDICAL PRACTITIONERS OF THE REVOLUTION
FACED EXTRAORDINARY CHALLENGES
Medical practices during the American Revolution are interpreted at the Yorktown Victory Center’s re-created Continental Army encampment.
By the time of the American Revolution, the state of medical knowledge was entering a period of transition that would result in major advances in health care more than a hundred years later.
This hand-colored photograph of a portrait of Thomas Jefferson was exhibited at the 1907 Jamestown Ter-Centennial Exposition and is now in the Jamestown-Yorktown Foundation collection.
It seems that college students will be college students, even in 18th-century Williamsburg, Virginia, and even if one of those students would become one of our country’s most esteemed revolutio
THE FIRST PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES
A circa 1800 copy of a Gilbert Stuart portrait of George Washington is on exhibit at the American Revolution Museum at Yorktown. The original was commissioned as a present to the Marquis of Lansdowne, who as British prime minister helped negotiate peace with America at the end of the Revolution. This copy, executed soon after the original Lansdowne portr
YORKTOWN’S FAME PREDATES THE REVOLUTION
Yorktown survived the 1781 siege but never regained its pre-Revolutionary War status as a bustling commercial center. This 1787 sketch of the seal of the “Borough of York” is in the Jamestown-Yorktown Foundation collection.
Today Yorktown is best known as the site of the decisive battle of the American Revolution and a travel destination. But at its zenith
If The Boot Fits …
18th-century engraving of Benedict Arnold, Jamestown-Yorktown Foundation collection.
The only monument to an American war hero that does not contain the hero’s name was erected near the spot at Saratoga where Benedict Arnold led the Continental Army’s victory over the British on October 7, 1777.
Arnold had been wounded in the foot during the Battle of Quebec and suffered further
The Morris Brothers Choose Different Sides
Gouverneur Morris is depicted in a 1783 illustration after a drawing by Pierre Eugène Du Simitière.
The Revolution forced Americans to decide whether to support independence or remain loyal to Britain. Sometimes members of the same family came up with different answers to this vexing question of loyalty. In the early 1770s the rich and politically power
Success to Trade
A new American Revolution Museum at Yorktown exhibit case illustrates the theme of trade between the American colonies and Britain prior to the Revolution. Located at the Yorktown Victory Center, the case contains several objects acquired in recent years for the American Revolution Museum at Yorktown.
A circa 1765 English firing glass, a form of drinking glass used for delivering
OLIVER EVANS’ 1787 INVENTION
REVOLUTIONIZES GRAIN MILLING This illustration of an automated mill for processing grain appeared in Oliver Evans’ “The Young Mill-wright & Miller’s Guide,” published in 1795.
To the Millers—The Subscribers have a Merchant-Mill on Redclay Creek, 3 Miles above Newport, Newcastle County, Delaware, with Evans’s new-invented Elevators and Hopperboys erected in her.
Rochambeau and Cornwallis on Opposing Sides
in Two Major Battles – Minden and Yorktown
In 1781 French general Count Rochambeau and British general Lord Cornwallis commanded opposing forces during the final major conflict of the American Revolution at Yorktown. It was the second time the two men were participants in the same decisive battle. On August 1, 1759, an allied British-German force achie
Portrait of Charles Townshend by Sir Joshua Reynolds.
Had Chancellor of the Exchequer Charles Townshend wanted to provoke the American colonies into rebellion, he could not have devised a better scheme than his Revenue Act of 1767. This act imposed duties on imported lead, glass, paint, paper and tea. Revenues would pay for salaries of some royal colonial officials, salaries pr
American-Made Bureau Features Patriotic Designs
By David B. Voelkel, Curator
This 1790s bureau, with American eagle inlays set into the exterior side of the fall front, is currently on view in “The Legacy of Yorktown: Virginia Beckons” exhibition at the Yorktown Victory Center.
In 2000, the Jamestown-Yorktown Foundation purchased a fall-front desk embellished with three oval inlays of a patrioti
START OF CONSTRUCTION IS A MILESTONE IN DEVELOPMENT
OF THE ‘AMERICAN REVOLUTION MUSEUM AT YORKTOWN’
An artist's rendering of the lobby in the American Revolution Museum at Yorktown. Construction, starting with a section of new parking space, gets under way this month.
Work begins this month on building the new American Revolution Museum at Yorktown to replace the Yorktown Victory Center. W.
THE PAUL REVERE OF THE SOUTH This silhouette of Jack Jouett was made by his son Matthew Harris Jouett. Listen my children and you shall hear
Of the midnight ride of Paul Revere,
On the eighteenth of April, in Seventy-five;
Hardly a man is now alive
Who remembers that famous day and year…
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, 1861
The Prison Ship HMS Jersey
Guards posted on the Jersey shot prisoners when they tried to escape. This 18th-century British sea service musket was recently acquired by the Jamestown-Yorktown Foundation for the Yorktown collection.
Patriots taken as prisoners of war by the British Army in America often were confined aboard prison ships. Using ships as prisons was a common 18th-century British pract
‘American Revolution Museum at Yorktown’ Will Replace Yorktown Victory Center
The distinctive two-story main entrance of the American Revolution Museum at Yorktown will provide a focal point for arriving visitors.
Along with a physical transformation of the Yorktown Victory Center will come a new name – “American Revolution Museum at Yorktown” – adopted May 10 by the Board of Trustees of the James
George Washington Statue by Hubard After Houdon The 19th-century plaster statue of George Washington by William James Hubard, now in the Jamestown-Yorktown Foundation collection, recently underwent conservation. This life-size cast plaster statue of George Washington once stood in the Hall of Representatives in the U.S. Capitol. It is an exact replica of the marble statue by Jean-Antoine H
The Yorktown Chronicles
Home page of The Yorktown Chronicles
American colonists, unhappy with the way Britain was trying to tax and control them following the French and Indian War, at first attempted reconciliation with the mother country but eventually turned to armed conflict and a declaration of their independence. The British, on the other hand, thought it only fair that the colonists pay fo
Shopping Gave Rise to America’s Growing Conflict With Britain
American colonists were eager to acquire “luxury” goods, exemplified by a pair of candlesticks in the Jamestown-Yorktown Foundation collection. These were made by British craftsmen in the 18th century of paktong, an alloy of copper, nickel and zinc that resembles silver.
How did shopping and the desire to acquire new consumer goods g
VIRGINIA’S 1776 COLLEGE
Patrick Henry, depicted in the Jamestown-Yorktown Foundation’s 19th-century copy of a portrait by Gilbert Stuart, was governor of Virginia when Hampden-Sydney College was founded and a member of its first Board of Trustees.
Hampden-Sydney College, founded on January 1, 1776, in Prince Edward County, Virginia, was named for two great English patriots, John Hampden (1595-1643
“Miss Chalkley,” A Georgian Wooden Doll,
Acquired for Yorktown Victory Center
By David B. Voelkel, Curator
A large wooden doll recently added to the Jamestown-Yorktown Foundation collection was made by an unknown English toymaker around the time of the American Revolution.
It might surprise children today that such a curious-looking doll would have been a desired plaything in the late 18th centur
Welcome to All About the Revolution. Our topics range from historical insights to updates on plans for the next generation of the Yorktown Victory Center. We encourage your thoughts and reactions to each post.
A German Lutheran Serves the Virginia Cause
A 1764 painted wooden chest on exhibit at the Yorktown Victory Center is representative of the culture of German immigrants to Virginia’s Shenando
Boston King, profiled in the Yorktown Victory Center’s Witnesses to Revolution Gallery, was apprenticed to a carpenter in South Carolina and escaped enslavement in 1780, joining the British side, where he worked for a time as a boat pilot.
Welcome to All About the Revolution. Our topics range from historical insights to updates on plans for the next generation of the Yorktown Victory Center. We en
Welcome to All About the Revolution. Our topics range from historical insights to updates on plans for the next generation of the Yorktown Victory Center. We encourage your thoughts and reactions to each post. “That Strange Mixture of Blood” A map printed in France in 1778 depicts the British American colonies of the Upper and Lower South. Jamestown-Yorktown Foundation collection.
These words by
Welcome to All About the Revolution. Our topics range from historical insights to updates on plans for the next generation of the Yorktown Victory Center. We encourage your thoughts and reactions to each post. Common Sense Knocked Them off the Fence
This British halfpenny token in the Jamestown-Yorktown Foundation collection bears the image of a man on the gallows with the slogan “End of Pain,” a