Trenton 1776

George Washington and his Continental Army has taken a holiday on the road near Trenton, New Jersey, during Christmas Week, 1776. Four months of battle with the British Army has left the 6,000 rebels tired and hungry. And, Washington can expect to lose more than half of his volunteers by the New Year, their enlistments up.

Washington and his troops have been subsequently swept off Long Island and chased the length of Manhattan. The disaster in New York was capped by American defeats at Forts Washington and Lee on the Hudson. The Continental Army subsequently limped through New Jersey, on the road to its present encampment here on the Delaware River, close to nearby Trenton and a brigade of Hessians (a mercenary used by England during the American Revolution) stationed there.

Observers are speculating that Washington will have to shelve his dream of a “European-style” army disciplined enough to effectively engage the British regulars in field combat. Already the sense is that new tactics are evolving. “Unless we are absolutely forced into,” Washington wrote recently, “we shall avoid a large battle. With the fate of America at stake, our job is to prolong this war as much as possible.”

Inspiration for the cause was recently provided by Thomas Paine, who wrote: “There are times that try men’s souls…” It is doubtful whether Paine’s words alone will be enough to invigorate the American cause. The sense here is that Washington needs to take a gamble. He desperately needs a victory to hold his troops together, and to keep the hopes of the revolution alive.

Source: Trenton 1776
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