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sulting with them, and possibly, by the delay, missing the favourable moment of action. “ It may be said," he observed, “ that this is an application for powers that are too dangerous to be entrusted. I can only add, that desperate diseases require desperate remedies, and with truth declare, that I have no lust after power, but wish with as much fervency, as any man upon the wide ex- . tended continent, for an opportunity of turning the sword into a ploughshare. But my feelings, as an officer and a man, have been such as to force me to say, that no person ever had a greater choice of difficulties to contend with than I have.” Haying recommended sundry other measures, and mentioned several arrangements which he had adopted beyond the spirit of his commission, he concluded with the following observations.

" It may be thought that I am going a good deal out of the line of my duty to adopt these measures, or to advise thus freely. A character to lose, an estate to forfeit, the inestimable blessings of liberty at stake, and a life devoted, must be my apology."

Dec. 27.] These weighty representations were not fruitless. Congress, by a resolution, invested their General with almost unlimited powers to manage the war.

The united exertions of civil and military officers had by this time brought a considerable body of militia into the field. General Sullivan, too, on whom the command of General Lee's division devolved upon his capture, promptly obeyed the orders of the Commander in Chief, and at this


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period joined him; and General Heath was marching a detachment from Peck's Kill. The army, with these reinforcements, amounted to seven thousand men, and General Washington determined to recommence active operations.

General Maxwell liad already been sent into New Jersey, to take the command of three regi(ments of regular forces, and about eight hundred of the inilitia. His orders were, to give the inhabitants all possible support, and to prevent the disaffected from going into the British lines to make their submission, to harass the marches of the enemy, to give early intelligence of their movements, particularly of those towards Prince, ton and Trenton.

These measures were preparatory to more enter prising and bold operations. General Washington had noticed the loose and uncovered state of the winter quarters of the British army; and he contemplated the preservation of Philadelphia, and the recovery of New Jersey, by sweeping, at one stroke, all the British cantonments upon the Delaware. The present position of his forces favoured the execution of his plan.

The troops under the immediate command of General Washington, consisting of about two thousand four hundred men, were ordered to cross the river at M Konkey's ferry, nine miles above Trenton, to attack that post. General Irvine was directed to cross with bis division at Trenton ferry, to secure the bridge below the town, and prevent the retreat of the enemy that way. General Cadwallader received orders to pass the river at Bristol ferry, and assault the post at Burlington. The night of the twenty-fifth was assigned for the execution of this daring scheme. It proved to be severely cold, and so much ice was made in the river, that General Irvine and General Cadwallader, after having strenuously exerted themselves, found it impracticable to pass their divisions, and their part of the plan totally failed.

The Commander in Chief was more fortunate. With difficulty he crossed the river, but was delayed in point of time. He expected to have reached Trenton at the dawn of day, and it was three o'clock in the morning before he had passed the troops and artillery over the river, and four before he commenced his line of march. Being now distant nine miles from the British encampment, the attempt to surprize it was given up. He formed his little army into two divisions, one of which was directed to proceed by the river road into the west end of Trenton, and the other by the Pennington road which leads into the north end of the town. The distance being equal, the General supposed that each division would arrive at the scene of action about the same time; and therefore he ordered each to attack the moment of its arrival, and driving in the picket guard, to press after it into the town. The General, accompanying the division on the Pennington road, reached the out post of the enemy precisely at eight o'clock, and in three minutes after, had the satisfaction to hear the firing of his men on the other road.

The brave Colonel Rawle, the commanding


officer, paraded his forces for the defence of his post. He was by the first fire mortally wounded, and his men, in ‘apparent dismay, attempted to file off towards Princeton. General Washington perceiving their intention, moved a part of his troops into this road in their front, and defeated the design. Their artillery being seized, and the Americans pressing upon them, they surrendered.. Twenty of the Germans were killed, and one thousand made prisoners. By the failure of General Irvine, a small body of the enemy, stationed in the lower part of the town, escaped over the · bridge to Bordenton. Of the American troops,

two privates were killed, and two frozen to death, one officer and three or four privates were wounded.

Could the other divisions have crossed the Delaware, General Washington's plan, in its full extent, would probably have succeeded. Not thinking it prudent to hazard the fruits of this gallant stroke by more daring attempts, the General the same day recrossed the Delaware with his prisoners, with six pieces of artillery, a thousand stand of arms, and some military stores. ,

General Howe was astonished at this display of enterprise and vigour. He found the American Commander a formidable enemy under circumstances of the greatest depression, and although in the depth of winter, determined to recommence active operations. In pursuance of this resolution, he called in his out posts, and assembled a powerful force at Princeton. ..

Having allowed his men two or three days rest, General Washington again passed into New Jer



sey, and concentered his forces, amounting to five thousand, at Trenton. He pushed a small detachment to Maidenhead, about half way between Trenton and Princeton, to watch the movement of the enemy, and delay their march, should they advance upon him. [JAN. 2, 1777.] On the next morning, Lord Cornwallis moved towards the American General with a superior force, and reached Trenton at four o'clock of the afternoon. General Washington drew up his men behind Assumpinck creek, which runs through the town. A candonade was opened on both sides. His Lordship attempted at several places to cross the creek ; but finding the passes guarded, he halted his troops, and kindled his fires.

Early in the evening General Washington assembled his officers in council, and stated to them the critical situation of the army. “ In the morning,” he observed, “ we certainly shall be attacked by a superior force, defeat must operate our absolute destruction, a retreat across the Delaware is extremely hazardous, if practicable, on account of the ice. In either case, the advantages of our late success will be sacrificed. New Jersey must again be resigned to the enemy, and a train of depressing and disastrous consequences will ensue.” He then proposed to their consideration the expediency of the following measure. “ Shall we silently quit our present position by a circuitous route, gain the rear of the enemy at Princeton, and there avail ourselves of favourable circumstances ? By this measure we shall avoid the appearance of a retreat, we shall assume the

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