After having repelled troops lead by British Lieutenant General Lord Charles Corwallis from the high ground on the southern bank of the Assunpink Creek in Trenton in the evening of January 2, 1777, General George Washington marched his army of about 5,000 men around Cornwallis toward Princeton. His objective was to capture the British 4th Brigade under the command of Lieutenant Colonel Charles Mawhood.
As Washington approached Princeton from the southeast he did not realize that Mawhood had been given orders to reinforce Cornwallis still in Trenton and was leading a column on the Trenton to Princeton Road on a hill just south of the Stony Brook. Having spotted the Continentals approaching the Princeton garrison, Mawhood reversed his column and engaged the center of the American army’s left flank at sunrise on January 3, 1777 one mile south of Princeton on the Quaker farms of William Clarke and his brother Thomas. At first the British gained the advantage against General Hugh Mercer’s Virginia brigade. Washington deftly rallied the army in a counterattack that resulted in an organic double envelope maneuver. Mawhood's 17th Reg of about 450 men were near surrounded. He gave the order for a general retreat scattering the British to the north, south and west.
The victorious Washington then approached the town of Princeton where Brigadier General John Sullivan had forced some 200 to 300 British troops who had taken refuge in Nassau Hall to surrender. After the battle, Washington moved his army to Morristown, and with their third victory in just ten days. Humiliated, Cornwallis withdraws his army north to Brunswick, Staten Island and New York. With the victory at Princeton, morale rose in the American. More citizens rallied to the cause of liberty and the British would never again occupy the “Jersies”. Today, this encounter engagement is honored on the hallowed grounds that are Princeton Battlefield State Park, a National Historic Landmark.
The Battle of Princeton
To read more about the Battle of Princeton, and the Ten Crucial Days Campaign from December 25, 1776 to January 3, 1777, click here
Facts about The Battle of Princeton
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