American Minute with Bill FedererDEC. 26 - The Battle of Trenton - 'Victory or Death'
Philadelphia was in panic, expecting a British invasion. The Continental Congress packed up and fled.American Minute archives
Their last instruction to General Washington was: "...until Congress shall otherwise order, General Washington shall be possessed of full power to order and direct all things."
With the password for his military operation being "Victory or Death,"Washington's troops crossed the ice-filled Delaware River on Christmas Day evening in a blizzard.
Trudging through blinding snow, with two soldiers freezing to death on the march, they attacked Trenton, New Jersey, at daybreak, DECEMBER 26, 1776.
The feared German Hessian mercenary troops hired by King George III were trained to fight in an open field, and were not prepared for Americans firing from behind every tree and fence post.
Captain Alexander Hamilton fired his six-pound cannons down King Street, tearing into the Hessian ranks.
Hessian colonel Johann Rall was soon shot and the Americans captured nearly a thousand in just over an hour.
and the young Lieutenant James Monroe-future 5th U.S. President, who was struck by a musket ball in the arm and bleeding badly. Doctor John Riker clamped the artery and saved his life.
Yale President Ezra Stiles stated in an Election Address before Connecticut General Assembly, May 8, 1783:
"In our lowest and most dangerous estate, in 1776 and 1777, we sustained ourselves against the British Army of 60,000 troops commanded by...the ablest generals Britain could procure throughout Europe, with a naval force of 22,000 seamen in above 80 men-of-war...
Heaven inspired us with resolution to cut the Gordian knot...in the glorious act of Independence...sealed and confirmed by God Almighty in the victory of General Washington at Trenton...
Who does not see the indubitable interposition and energetic influence of Divine Providence in these great and illustrious events?
Who but a Washington, inspired by Heaven, could have struck out the great movement and maneuver of Princeton - that Christmas eve when Washington and his army crossed the Delaware?...
The United States are under peculiar obligations to become a holy people unto the Lord our God."
President Calvin Coolidge stated, October 28, 1925:
"Military critics have described Washington's campaign of Trenton and Princeton as a military exploit of unparalleled brilliancy."
Washington wrote August 20, 1778:
"The Hand of Providence has been so conspicuous in...the course of the war that he must be worse than an infidel that lacks faith, and more wicked that has not gratitude to acknowledge his obligations;
but it will be time enough for me to turn Preacher when my present appointment ceases."