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December 27, 2011
(Generally believed to be Brigadier-General. Lord Stirling, at Newtown, Bucks County, Pennsylvania, dated December 27, 1776)

This letter was published by the Council of Safety, and a copy was sent to the Congress of the United States: —

It was determined, some days ago, that our army should pass over to Jersey, in three different places, and attack the men, and 20 brass field pieces, with his Excellency Gen. Washington at their head, and Majors. Gens. Sullivan and Greene in command of two divisions, passed over on the night of Christmas, and about three o’clock, A.M. were on their March, by two routes, towards Trenton. The night was sleety, and the roads so slippery that it was day break when we were two miles from Trenton. But happily the enemy were not apprised of our design, and our advanced party were on their guards at half a mile from the town, when Gen. Sullivan’s and Gen. Greene’s divisions soon came into the same road. Their guard gave our advance party several smart fires, as we drove them; but we soon got two field-pieces at play, and several others in a short time; and one of our Colonels pushing down the right while the others advanced on the left, into the town. The enemy, consisting of about 1500 Hessians, under Col. Rohl formed and made some smart fires from the musketry and six field pieces, but our people pressed from every quarter, and drove them from their cannon. They retreated towards a field behind a piece of wood up the creek, from Trenton, and formed in two bodies which I expected would have brought on a smart engagement from the troops, who had formed very near them, but at that instant, as I came in full view of them, from the back of the wood, with his Excellency Gen. Washington, an officer informed him that the party had grounded their arms and surrendered prisoners.

The others soon follow their example, except the part which had gone off in the hazy weather, towards Princeton, and a party of their light horse which made off on our first appearance. Too much praise cannot be given to the officers of every regiment. By their active and spirited behavior, they soon put on honorable issue to this glorious day.

I was immediately sent off with the prisoners to M’Conkey’s Ferry, and have got about seven hundred and fifty safe in town and a few miles from here, on this side of the ferry, viz. one Lieutenant Colonel, two Majors, four Captains, Seven Lieutenants and eight Ensigns. We left Col. Rohl, the commandant wounded, on his parole, and several other officers and wounded men at Trenton. We lost but two of our men, that I can hear of, a few wounded, and one brave officer, Capt. Washington, who assisted in securing their artillery, shot in both hands. Indeed every officer and private behaved well, and it was a most fortunate day for our arms, which I the more rejoice that, having an active part in. The success of this day will greatly animate our friends, and add fresh courage to our new army, which, when formed, will be sufficient to secure us from the depredations or insults of our enemy.

Gen. Ewing’s division could not pass at Trenton for the ice, which also impeded Gen. Cadwalader passing over with all his cannon and the militia, though part of his troops were over, and if the whole could’ve passed, we should have swept the coast to Philadelphia. We took three standards, six fine brass cannon, and about one thousand stands of arms,

Published by order of Council of safety.

G Bickham, Sec. pro tem.

Text from The Battles of Trenton and Princeton, William S. Stryker pgs. 367 – 368

Visit for a listing of activities December 27 – 31 commemorating Trenton’s role in turning the tide of America’s War for Independence.

Contact us anytime for tours of New Jersey’s historic capital city.

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