On January 3, 1777, George Washington outfoxed the British. A week before, his army had won one of the most remarkable victories of the Revolution. They had surprised and beaten Hessian mercenaries (German troops hired by the British) at Trenton, New Jersey. But British General Lord Cornwallis had marched on Trenton with about 8,000 redcoats, who were now positioned to attack Washington’s 2500 troops.
Instead of fighting Cornwallis, Washington decided to make a surprise attack on another British force. After midnight, the Americans slipped quietly away from their camp. They left their campfires burning so the British would think they were still there. Marsching sliently south and east around Cornwallis’ army the Americans headed utoward Princeton, 10 miles away. At daybreak, they attacked and defeated two British regiments.
The victories at Trenton and Princeton raised the morale of patriots throuout the country. And they caused the British to evacuate western New Jersey, leaving the Americans with an open supply route between Philadelphia and New York. Washington’s army moved into winter headquarters at Morristown, New Jersey, with renewed pride and confidence.
Washington almost lost many of his men just before the Battle of Princeton because their enlistment terms expired January 1,. The general’s personal appeals convinced tmost of them to stay on.