With the American Revolutionary War in full flow there were many battles raging across the United States, one of these was the Battle of Princeton. The Battle of Princeton occurred on the 3rd January in the year 1977 and was a pivotal battle in the Americans War of Independence.
The Battle of Princeton was a battle that occurred within days of two other battles, the first of which was the Battle of Trenton and this was followed by the Battle of the Assunpink Creek.
Prior to the Battle of Princeton
On December 26th 1976 the American forces won a resounding victory at Trenton against a small British contingent supported by a massive Hessian army. In response to this loss the British General Lord Cornwallis got 9,000 British troops together and marched on Princeton where the American forces were.
After arriving at Trenton, close to Princeton the British had another loss as they attempted three times to cross the Assunpink Creek. This was the second battle of Trenton which occurred on the 2nd January, this battle is called the Battle of the Assunpink Creek which again finished in American victory.
The British decided to wait overnight until the he 3rd January and resume their battle, this being the Battle of Princeton.
Washington took his men and artillery to Princeton in the dead of night, to do this he wrapped the artillery pieces in cloth to stifle any noise they may make as they are pulled along.
The Battle of Princeton
As the Americans were on the way to Princeton, Washington realised that he was behind schedule and wouldn’t have time to overrun the British outposts. To resolve this he sent 350 men to destroy the bridge that the British would need to make a quick move into Princeton.
The British awoke in the morning to find that the Americans had scarpered and quickly set about following them. The British asked Mawhood, the commander in Princeton to bring his men out to meet the British General Lord Cornwallis. As Mawhood moved his men out of Princeton he caught sight of the Americans and not knowing the size of the force decided to turn around and head back to Princeton.
The 350 men sent forward by Washington tried to cut off Mawhoods men but found they were behind them and couldn’t cut them off so moved to join the forces of General Sullivan. Mawhood decided to send half his men back into Princeton but used the other half, supported by artillery, to attack the 350 Americans.
The first engagement came as Mawhood sent his light infantry in to delay the 350 Americans moving to join the rest of the American line. The British light infantry found them in an orchard but fired high with their volley, this gave time for the Americans to form battle formations and advance on the British pushing them back.
The British brought up their artillery and so did the British, gun fire was exchanged for a short while before the British went in for a bayonet charge. The British overran and slaughtered the Americans as the Americans could not attach bayonets to their rifles.
Some of the British light infantry carried on chasing the Americans but then a column of over a 1,000 American militia came to the rescue, or so the Americans thought. These were militia men so didn’t have military training so when they arrived and saw Americans fleeing they simply turned around and started fleeing too.
This is when Washington turned up with his regular men from the Continental army. The American guns fired on the British to hold them off then when the Americans were around 30 metres from the British he told them to open fire. The British opened fire too.
While this was happening a column of Americans on the right engaged the British flank, this caused many casualties on the British side. The Americans then charged the British and they fled, some American troops tried to cut the British off but the fleeing British cut through them with a bayonet charge.
The Americans pursued the British for a long time and took some prisoners and killed others.
This was another resounding victory to the Americans.