National Geographic : 1960 Jan
Washington Directs a Dawn Attack on the Hessian Garrison in Trenton Crossing the icy Delaware on Christmas night, 1776, the Continentals marched against the sleep ing enemy. When an officer reported that his powder was wet, Washington crisply replied: ".. .use the bayonet. I am resolved to take Trenton." The American surprise was complete. In less than an hour of fighting, the Continentals mor tally wounded the Hessian commander and cap tured some 950 prisoners. Washington lost not a single man. A turning point of the Revolution, the electri fying victory lifted the gloom that followed the loss of New York and gave the colonists new heart for the struggle against King George III. "Our hopes were blasted," a British statesman admitted, "by that unhappy affair at Trenton." A 150-foot granite shaft rising just north of the Trenton business district marks the spot where Washington placed his artillery. In eight years of fighting, nearly a hundred battles and skirmishes raged across New Jersey. Morristown saw George Washington reorgan ize a freezing, starving army during the terrible winter of 1779-80. Headquartering here in the Ford Mansion, the general wrote: "Eighteen be longing to my [official] family and all Mrs. Fords are crouded together in her kitchen and scarce one ... able to speak for [their] colds .... "