The Battle of Princeton
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Started: January 3, 1777
Ended: January 3, 1777
A painting of Washington victorious at Princeton with the American Army
A painting of Washington victorious at Princeton with the American Army

A map of the American and British forces during the Battle of Princeton

American Forces Commanded by
Gen. George Washington
Missing / Captured
British Forces Commanded by
Lt. Col. Charles Mawhood
Missing / Captured

Size of the armies: 7,000 Americans against 8,000 British and Hessians although only 1,200 British troops were really engaged in fighting of the battle.

Before the battle began and shots had not yet been fired, there was much thought from both sides of the armies on how to win this key battle in America's history. Charles Cornwallis, commander of the British army brought with him 6000 men and leaving three regiments of the 4th Brigade under Gen. Mawhood's control. He and his men were not ready for what was in store for them in Princeton on January 3rd. Meanwhile, Washington and the Americans were quietly sneaking off to Princeton waiting for the perfect time to attack.

After the victory for the Americans at the Battle of Trenton, Washington took off for Princeton waiting for the British to fall into their trap again. He was able to move without the British knowing because the American troops had less numbers within the forces. Whereas the British had many more people and supplies to carry on their way. Washington also left men behind to tend campfires to make the British think he was still encamped. As Mawhood left behind 400 soldiers, he set out on a southern route to join Cornwallis. About halfway there he was stopped by Washington and his men and the Battle of Princeton ensued. After hours of trading blows, Mawhood decided that to save as many men as he could, he tried to make a brake for Cornwallis but failed. The British were forced to surrender to the American forces. General Hugh Mercer for the American army also played a role in the Battle of Princeton. Though he died on the battlefield, he still led troops into Princeton and helped surround Mawhood. One of the key quotes in the battle was said by George Washington when he said "It's a fine fox hunt, boys!" which was a reference from the Harlem Heights fox hunt, in which he still had a bitter taste in his mouth from.

After the Battle of Princeton, Washington moved his Army to Morristown, and Cornwallis went to New Brunswick. This Battle sent a message to the British forces. Though the American army had been pushed around for many years, it showed that it was certainly not out of the revolution yet. The British had never realized the true talent of the American forces until the Battle of Princeton. Also, this was a massive stepping stone, not only for the army, but for George Washington. He was criticized before and people were questioning his true military talents, but after the win at Princeton, Washington really gained the confidence to go on an succeed in future battles to come, and ultimately, the war. Finally, the French had heard about this win in Princeton and were impressed. The Americans needed the French to be notified of their victories because they needed their help. The French provide men, ships, and other goods that would greatly increase the American's chances of winning the war. Ultimately, the Battle of Princeton was one of, if not the most key battle in the Revolutionary War, for the Americans, British, and the French.


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Charles Cornwallis was born in London and went to school at Eton and Cambridge.
His first military action came during Seven Years War when he enlisted
as one of the members of the British army.
Cornwallis saw action in most of the major battles of the American Revolution He served with William Howe at the Battle of Long Island in the late summer of 1776, then assisted in the pursuit of Washington across New Jersey. He also was present at the American victory at Trenton, and in September 1777 the British victory at Brandywine. Cornwallis was very annoyed with Howes lack of urgency and initiative, as well as those qualities of Sir Henry Clinton.

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Everyone knows the classic story of George Washington as a kid admitting to cutting down his father's cherry tree, and then eventually becoming the 1st President of the United States. But what most people don't know, is what happened in between the two events. Washington was the leader of the Virginia Militia along with future Revolutionary figures such as George Mason, the principal author of the Virginia Declaration of Rights. Washington always wore his Virginia Blues Military uniform to show the members of the Continental Congress that he would be ready be the leader of the continental army and take on the British military. In the winter of 1776, after brutal defeats at the hands of the British army, Washington and the Continental army marched to its winter quarters at Valley Forge in December.