The American Revolutionary War in the Middle Atlantic States:
Battle of New York City | Washington's Retreat from New York City | Washington's Crossing of the Delaware River
Battles of Trenton and Princeton, New Jersey | British Capture of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania | Battle of Brandywine, Pennsylvania
The Paoli Massacre | Battle of Germantown, Pennsylvania | Battle of the Barrels | The Winter at Valley Forge, Pennsylvania
Battle of Monmouth, New Jersey | Battle of Stony Point, New York | Battle of Springfield, New Jersey | General 'Mad' Anthony Wayne
Molly Pitcher | General Lord Charles Cornwallis
With his army in tatters after losing The Battle of New York at Brooklyn, Manhattan and White Plains and losing Fort Washington and Fort Lee to capture, General George Washington's forces were in full retreat.
The Colonials stopped briefly in Newark, New Jersey on 28 November, but the approaching British troops forced them to move further south into New Jersey. Numbering less than 3,000 men, Washington and his forces reached New Brunswick, New Jersey on 1 December, 1776. 8,000 British were in hot pursuit led by General William Howe and General Charles Cornwallis. However, the British heavy equipment and wagons were bogged down in mud during their advance, allowing the Colonials to make better time.
The next day the British halted at New Brunswick, and the retreating Colonials destroyed bridges in their wake in the hopes of slowing the redcoats still further. While the British were stuck in New Brunswick, Washington and his men reached the Delaware River. He quickly ordered Colonel Richard Humpton, commander of the 11th Pennsylvania Regiment, to collect boats up and down the river and meet back with him in three days.
While Humpton and the Pennsylvanians were busy along the river, British General Lord Cornwallis moved into Princeton, New Jersey, and attacked the college there. He was less than 12 miles from General Washington, who was trapped with his back to the river, and yet he failed to deliver a crushing blow.
Finally, Humpton returned with 30-some boats. Washington and his men crossed the river five miles north of Trenton. The last boat crossed on 8 December just as Hessian mercenaries arrived on the scene. Washington's artillery was in position on Pennsylvania soil and protected the remaining boats by firing into the advancing Germans inflicting minor casualties.
With the Americans temporarily out of reach, Howe returned to New York City on 11 December and placed his forces into winter camps. On 14 December, the Hessians completed their capture of Trenton, New Jersey. They did not overly fortify the city as they believed the Colonials were too weak to attack.
They would find out 10 days later the rebels were still capable of attack after Washington's daring crossing of the Delaware River.