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enemy precisely at eight o'clock, and in three minutes alter, had the satisfaction to hear the firing of his men on the other road.
The brave Colonel Rawlo, the commanding oflicer, paraded his forces for the defence of his post. He was by the first fire mortally wounded, and his men in apparent dismay, attempted to file off towards Prince. ton. General Washington perceiving their intention, moved a part of his troops into this road in their front, and defeated the design. Their artillery being seized, and the Americans pressing upon them, they surrendered. Twenty of the Germans were killed, and onc thousand made prisoners. By the failure of General Irvine, a small body of the enemy stationed in the lower part of the town escaped over the bridge to Bor. denton. Of the American troops, twn privates were killed, and two frozen to death, one officer and three or four privates were wounded.
Could the other divisions have crossed the Delaware, General WASHINGTON's plan in its full extent would probably have succeeded. Not thinking it pru. dent to hazard the fruits of this gallant stroke by more daring attempts, the General the same day, recrossed the Delaware with his prisoners, with six pieces of ar. tillery, a thousand stand of arms, and some military stores.
General Howe was astonished at this display of en terprise and vigour. He found the American Com. mander, a forinidable enemy under circumstances of the greatest depression, and although in the depth of winter, determined to recommence active ope rations. In pursuance of this resolution, he called in his outposts and assembled a powerful forco at Princeton.
Having allowed his men two or three days' rest, General WASHINGTON again passed into New Jersey, and concentrated his forces, amounting to five thousand, at Trenton. He pushed a small detachment to
Maidenhead, about half way between Trenton and Princeton, to watch tha movement of the enemy, and delay their march, should they advance upon him
On the next morning, Lord Cornwallis moved N: 2; towards the American General with a supe.
"" riour force, and reached Trenton at four o'clock of the afternoon. General WASHINGTON drow up his men behind Assumpinck creek, which runs lb :ough the town. A cannonade was opened on both sides. His Lordship, attempted at several places to cross the creek ; but finding the passes guarded, he halted his troops, and kindled his fires.
Early in the evening General WASHINGTON assembled his officers in Council, and stated to them the critical situation of the army. “In the morning," he observed, “ we certainly shall be attacked by a superiour force, defeat must operate our absolute destructivn, a retreat across the Delaware is extremely hazardous, if practicable, on account of the ice. In either case, the advantages of our late success will be sacrificed. New-Jersey must again be resigned to the enemy, and a train of depressing and disastrous consequences will ensue.” He then proposed to their consideration the expediency of the following measure “Shall we silently quit our present position, by a cir. cuitous route, gain the rear of the enemy at Princeton, and there avail ourselves of favourable circumstances ? By this measure we shall avoid the appearance of a retreat, we shall assume the aspect of vigorous opera. tion, inspirit the publick mind, and subserve the inte. rests of our country.”
The plan was unanimously approved, and measures were instantly adopted for its execution ; the baggage was silently removed to Burlington; the fires were renewed, and ordered to be kept up through the night • guards were posted at the bridge and fords of the creek, and directed to go the usual rounds. At one o clock at night, the army moved upon the left flank of the enemy, and unperceived gained their rear. The weather, which for several days had been warm, suddeniy changed to a severe frost; and the roads, which had been deep and muddy, immediately became hard, and marching upon them, easy.
About sunrise the American van met the advance of three British regiments, which had the preceding right encamped at Princeton, and were on their way to join Lord Cornwallis. A severe skirmish took place between this advanced corps and General Mercer, who commanded the militia in front of the American line. The militia at length gave way, and in the effort to rally them, General Mercor was mortally wounded. General WASHINGTON advanced at the head of those troops which had signalized themselves at Trenton, and exposed himself to the hottest fire of the enemy. His men bravely supported him, and the British in their turn were repulsed, and the different regiments separated. That in the rear, retreated with little loss to Brunswick. Colonel Mawhood in the van, with a part of his men, forced his way through the Americans, and reached Trenton. More than a hundred of the British were left on the field of battle, and three hundred of them were made prisoners. Be. sides General Mercer, whose death was greatly lamented, the Americans in this action lost two Colonels, two Captains, five other officers, and nearly a hundred privates.
On the return of day, Lord Cornwallis found that he had been out-generalled. Comprehending the de. sign of WASHINGTON, he broke up his encampment, and with the utmost expedition retraced his stcps, for the preservation of the stores in his rear; and he was close upon the Americans, as they marched oui of Princeton.
It had been the intention of General WASHINGTON to proceed to Brunswick, where the British had large magazines, and where was their military chest, which
at this time, as it afterwards appeared, contained seventy thousand pounds sterlinr. But many of his soldiers had not slept for forty-eight hours, none of thein für the last twenty-four, and they were exhaust. cd by excessive duty. They were closely pursued by a superiour force, which must be up with them before the stores at Brunswick could be destroyed, should they meet with serious opposition at that place. Ge neral WASHINGTON therefore relinquished this part of his plan, and prudently led his army to a place of se. curity, to give them the rest which they greatly needed.
The successes of the American arms at Trenton, and at Princeton, were followed by important conse quences. The affairs of the United States, before these events, appeared to be desperate. Two thousand of the regular troops had a right, on the first of January, to demand their discharge. The recruiting service was at an end, and general despondency prevailed. The triumphs of the British through the previous parts of the campaign produced a common apprehension, in the citizens of the middle states, that any further struggle would be useless; and that Ame. rica must eventually return to her allegiance to Great Britain. Many individuals made their peace with the Cominissioners, and took protection from the officers of the crown; and more discovered the inclination to do it, when opportunity should present. General Howe supposed New Jersey restored to the British government, and thought the war drawing to a close. But these successes were considered as great victories, and produced consequent effects upon the publick mind. The character of the Commander in Chief propor. cionably rose in the estimation of the great mass of American people, who now respected themselves, and confided in their persevering efforts to secure tho great object of contention, the independence of their country.
Other causes had a powerful operation upon the minóls of the yeomanry of New-Jersey. The British commanders tolerated, or at least neglected to restrain, gross licentiousness in their army. The inhabitants of the state, which they boasted was restored to the bosom of the purent country, were treated not as reclaimed friends, but as conquered enemies. The sol. diery were guilty of every species of rapine, and with little discrimination between those who had opposed or supported the measures of Britain. The abuse wa: not limited to the plundering of property. Every in dignity was offered to the persons of the inhabitants, not excepting those outrages to the female sex, which are felt hy ingenuous minds with the keenest anguish, and excite noble spirits to desperate resistance. These aggravated abuses roused the people of New-Jersey to repel that ariny, to which they had voluntarily submitted, in the expectation of protection and security. At the dawn of success upon the American arms, they rose in small bands to oppose their invaders. They scoured the country, cut off every soldier who strag. gled from his corps ; and in many instances repelled thu foraging parties of the enemy.
The enterprising maneuvres of the American General, and the returning spirit of the Jersey yeoman. ry, rendered General Howe, now Sir William, very cautious and circumspect. He contracted his cantonments for winter quarters, and concentrated his forco in New-Jersey, at Brunswick, and Amboy.
By this time, the period of service of the Conti. nental battalions had expired, and the recruits for the new army were not yet in camp. Offensive operations, therefore, were of necessity suspended by the American General; but, with the small force at his disposal, he straited the enemy's quarters, and circumscribed their foraging excursions.
At Cliristmas the power of the British was extend. ed over the whole of New Jersey, and their command