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men. To each division was assigned, with provident forethought, its exact part. Nothing was overlooked, nothing omitted; and then every division commander failed, for good reason or bad, to do his duty. Gates was to march from Bristol with two thousand men, Ewing was to cross at Trenton, Putnam was to come up from Philadelphia, Griffin was to make a diversion against Donop. When the moment came, Gates, disapproving the scheme, was on his way to Congress, and Wilkinson, with his message, found his way to headquarters by following the bloody tracks of the barefooted soldiers. Griffin abandoned New Jersey and fled before Donop. Putnam would not even attempt to leave Philadelphia, and Ewing made no effort to cross at Trenton. Cadwalader, indeed, came down from Bristol, but after looking at the river and the floating ice, gave it up as desperate. But there was one man who did not hesitate nor give up, nor halt on account of floating ice. With twenty-four hundred hardy veterans, Washington crossed the Delaware. The night was bitter cold and the passage difficult. When they landed, and began their march of nine miles to Trenton, a fierce storm of sleet drove in their faces. Sullivan, marching by the river, sent word that the arms of his men were wet. “Then tell your general,” said Washington, “to use the bayonet, for the town must be taken.” In broad daylight they came to the town. Washington, at the front and on the right of the line, swept down the Pennington road, and as he drove in the pickets he heard the shouts of Sullivan's men, as, with Stark leading the van, they charged in from the river. A company of yågers and the light dragoons slipped away, there was a little confused fighting in the streets, Colonel Rahl fell, mortally wounded, his Hessians threw down their arms, and all was over. The battle had been fought and won, and the Revolution was saved. Taking his thousand prisoners with him, Washington recrossed the Delaware to his old position. Had all done their duty, as he had planned, the British hold on New Jersey would have been shattered. As it was, it was only loosened. Congress, aroused at last, had invested Washington with almost dictatorial powers; but the time for action was short. The army was again melting away, and only by urgent appeals were some veterans retained, and enough new men gathered to make a force of five thousand men. With this army Washington prepared to finish what he had begun. Trenton struck alarm and dismay into the British, and Cornwallis, with seven thousand of the best troops, started from New York to redeem what had been lost. Leaving three regiments at Princeton, he pushed hotly after Washington, who fell back behind the Assunpink River, skirmishing heavily and successfully. When Cornwallis reached the river he found the American army drawn up on the other side awaiting him. An attack on the bridge was repulsed, and the prospect looked uninviting. Some officers urged an immediate assault; but night was falling, and Cornwallis, sure of the game, decided to wait till the morrow. He, too, forgot that he was facing an enemy who never overlooked a mistake, and never waited an hour. With quick decision Washington left his camp-fires burning on the river bank, and taking roundabout roads, which he had already reconnoitred, marched on Princeton. By sunrise he was in the outskirts of the town. Mercer, detached with some three hundred men, fell in with Mawhood's regiment, and a sharp action ensued. Mercer was mortally wounded, and his men gave way just as the main army came upon the field. The British charged, and as the raw Pennsylvanian troops in the van wavered, Washington rode to the front, and reining his horse within thirty yards of the British, ordered his men to advance. The volleys of musketry left him unscathed, the men stood firm, the other divisions came rapidly into action, and the enemy gave way in all directions. The two other British regiments were driven through the town and routed. Had there been cavalry they would have been entirely cut off. As it was, they were completely broken, and in this short but bloody action they lost five hundred men in killed, wounded, and prisoners. It was too late to strike the magazines at Brunswick, as Washington had intended, and so he withdrew once more with his army to the high lands to rest and recruit. His work was done, however. The country, which
had been supine, and even hostile, rose now, and the British were attacked, surprised, and cut off in all directions, until at last they were shut up in the immediate vicinity of New York. The tide had been turned, and Washington had won the precious breathing-time which was all he required. Frederic the Great is reported to have said that this was the most brilliant campaign of the century. It certainly showed all the characteristics of the highest strategy and most consummate generalship. With a force numerically insignificant as compared with that opposed to him, Washington won two decisive victories, striking the enemy suddenly with superior numbers at each point of attack. The Trenton campaign has all the quality of some of the last battles fought by Napoleon in France before his retirement to Elba. Moreover, these battles show not only generalship of the first order, but great statesmanship. They display that prescient knowledge which recognizes the supreme moment when all must be risked to save the state. By Trenton and Princeton Washington inflicted deadly blows upon the enemy, but he did far more by reviving the patriotic spirit of the country fainting under the bitter experience of defeat, and by sending fresh life and hope and courage throughout the whole people. It was the decisive moment of the war. Sooner or later the American colonies were sure to part from the mother-country, either peaceably or violently. But there was nothing inevitable in the
Revolution of 1776, nor was its end at all certain. It was in the last extremities when the British overran New Jersey, and if it had not been for Washington that particular revolution would have most surely failed. Its fate lay in the hands of the general and his army; and to the strong brain growing ever keener and quicker as the pressure became more intense, to the iron will gathering a more relentless force as defeat thickened, to the high, unbending character, and to the passionate and fighting temper of Washington, we owe the brilliant campaign which in the darkest hour turned the tide and saved the cause of the Revolution.