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

  • ​Turning Point Battle that Saved the Revolution and the culmination of the Ten Crucial Days Campaign that started with Washington’s crossing of the Delaware.​
  • Washington’s First Victory over the British on a Battlefield (Trenton was fought against the Hessians just 8 days before on December 26, 1776).
  • US Marines suffer their first battlefield death at the Battle of Princeton. 3 companies of marines came with Washington from Philadelphia, including one African American Marine named Orange.
  • A brilliant daring night march of 18 miles by Washington’s army around the flank of a larger British army which was positioned just yards from his front lines to attack its rear. By marching his army around the flank of the British army he avoided almost assured destruction by the British army at Trenton while demonstrating his ability to pick off British outposts and threaten British supplies and communications. His victory ultimately leads to the liberation of New Jersey.
  • Washington’s leadership abilities and personal bravery are demonstrated by his rallying of two broken brigades and leading them back into battle and facing a British volley at 30 paces. Washington threatens a double envelopment of the main British force and drives them off the field.
  • Washington threatens the British payroll 20 miles up the road from Princeton in New Brunswick and guarded by a mere 100 men. Washington places his own army between British army and their payroll which panics the British.

For an excellent video on the Ten Crucial Days Campaign,click here

For a lecture on the Battle of Princeton by famed historian, Tom Fleming,click here

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.

Hand drawn map of Princeton

The Battle of Princeton