The following is a fictional letter written by a Continental Army soldier to his friend in Massachusetts.
January 15, 1777
Have you heard what the Continental Army did in Trenton? We have turned this war from hopeless to worth fighting. That is why I am not at home. Even though my enlistment was finished New Year’s Day, I and many others are staying on to fight.
We all knew the Hessians (German soldiers fighting for the British) in Trenton, New Jersey were going to have a hearty Christmas celebration with beer and card playing. General Washington decided to attack the Hessians at dawn the following morning since they would be tired from celebrating. General Washington believed this strategy would make the battle easier to win.
Around 6 o’clock in the evening of December 25th, the Continental Army started to cross the Delaware River. It was starting to snow, and the temperature was freezing. It took until 4 o’clock the following morning to get our 2,400 men, their horses, and 18 cannons across the icy water. This long duration ruined Washington’s plan for an attack at dawn, but he was determined to succeed. During the night it was so cold two men froze to death.
We arrived at Trenton around 8 o’clock in the brisk morning air. Major Dechow had decided the Hessians should go out for their morning drills; however he changed his mind due to the frigid temperatures. Had they carried out their drills, they would have seen us coming and who knows the results.
The Hessians were unable to form troops since they were taken by surprise when we approached; and they were not accustomed to fighting any other way.
Major General Nathanael Greene commanded our regiment in the battle. Have you heard of him in Massachusetts? General Greene was born in 1742 in Warwick, Rhode Island. He was a Quaker, but was shunned for his war beliefs. He formed the Kentish Guards, but was not allowed to command troops because of his stiff knee; however, that did not stop General Washington from giving General Greene one of our regiments since he had proven himself courageous during battles in New York City.
The battle of Trenton lasted about 90 minutes. We captured 848 Hessians, and killed or wounded 106. In addition, 430 Hessians escaped. We would have captured all the Hessians, but the troops further south were unable to cross the Delaware River due to the severe weather conditions. The Continental Army had only six casualties.
I believe this battle may change the outcome of the war.
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