the battle of princeton

On January 2, 1777, Washington didn't know entirely what to do. He convened a council of war with his officers. Washington had been alerted that the road to Princeton was undefended. He had a plan of marching deep into New Jersey and the consensus from the council was to keep going.

Most of Washington's army marched northeast. Residents loyal to Washington relayed information that the town of Princeton was open to attack on the east side of the town. As January 3 began, the Continentals were about two miles from Princeton. Washington ordered Brigadier General Hugh Mercer to march to the left and destroy a bridge on a road that led to Trenton. The bulk of the force, led by Major General John Sullivan's division, marched on Princeton. Washington's total forces were about 4,500 men.

The British forces were led by Lieutenant Colonel Charles Mawhood. He had about 1,200 men. Mawhood's mission was to keep Princeton secure for General Cornwallis. Princeton was key for the British communications route to New York City. 

Mawhood spotted Washington's front column and ordered his force back inside Princeton. Fighting ensued and Mawhood had Mercer's troops attacked by highly skilled British infantrymen. Mercer was overrun and mortally wounded. Washington pressed the engagement and entered the town. Sullivan did not risk a frontal attack and found a stalemate happen until troops, personally led by Washington, broke the British line.

 Both the Battles of Trenton and Princeton split the British Army in two and gave the people, loyal to independence, new hope and confidence that the war could be won.

Sources for this post: Battle of Princeton on
                                   10 Facts About the Battle of Princeton on


george washington at christmas

Washington did celebrate Christmas in a variety of ways throughout his life. Christmas was an important religious holiday in Washington's life. The holiday was usually extended to January 6 in his time to celebrate the twelve days of Christmas. There were many balls and parties. His experiences ranged from one extreme to the other.

In 1740, the Washington house burned down on Christmas Eve and the family celebrated Christmas in the detached kitchen. That couldn't have been much fun.

Washington's Kitchen near Fredricksburg

In 1758, on the twelve day of Christmas, January 6, George married Martha Dandridge Custis.

Junius Brutus Stearns depicts The Marriage of George Washington to Martha Custis

Christmas 1775 Martha traveled to Cambridge, Massachsetts and the Battle of Trenton was fought in 1776. In 1777, it was winter quarters at Valley Forge, Pennsylvania. In 1779, it was winter quarters at Morristown, New Jersey. Martha was with George that winter.

Ford Mansion at Morristown - Washington's headquarters

Christmas 1781, Washington was in Philadelphia. In 1783, Washington resigned his commission and went home to Mount Vernon. In 1789, Washington was president of the United States. In 1797 and 1798, George and Martha were at home. These were his last two Christmases.

"George Washington at Christmas" on was the source for this post.


what's the framework of the d of i?

The Declaration of Independence Established Natural Law as the Organizing Principle of the United States.



The new country would be committed  to a legal standard of freedom to be incorporated into the forms of government.


causes and necessities revisited

My previous post touched on The Declaration of the Causes and Necessities for Taking Up Arms. The Declaration was one of several addresses issued by Congress to justify the necessity of armed resistance.The Continental Congress has previously issued the "Olive Branch Petition", which was drafted by John Dickinson. This petition was accepted by the Congress on July 5, 1775. The day after Congress debated "The Declaration of Causes". (1)

Prior to this a committee was appointed to adopt a first draft of the declaration. This committee was comprised of John Rutledge, William Livingston, Benjamin Franklin, John Jay, and Thomas Johnson.

The shooting war had started on April 19, 1775 at Lexington - Concord, Massachusetts, but a declaration of war hadn't yet been adopted. The document has this at its heart:

"We are reduced to the alternative of choosing an unconditional submission to the tyranny of irritated ministers, or resistance by force. The latter is our choice."

The choice was clear. The Colonials had decided to continue war with Great Britain. Could there be any turning back? Most likely no, however I get the feeling if Great Britain would consider addressing the Colonies' grievances, bloodshed would be stopped. Trust though, was a major issue. Both sides did not trust one another. That was clear.

This declaration told the world why the battles were happening. (2) The declaration stated that the shooting war was on, and here's why. So, was this America's first civil war? The Continental Congress was not declaring independence (that would happen a year later). It was declaring that this war was official on July 6, 1775. This declaration of war was drafted for General Washington to read to his troops stationed at Boston. If any of Washington's forces had any doubts, this document ended  those.

The Declaration of the Causes and Necessity begins very similar to The Declaration of Independence. It notes how human life and inalienable rights are from God and no man has the right to take them away.

"...the inhabitants of these colonies might at least require from the parliament of Great-Britain some evidence, that this dreadful authority over them, has been granted to that body. But a reverence for our Creator, principles of humanity, and the dictates of common sense, must convince all those who reflect upon the subject, that government was instituted to promote the welfare of mankind, and ought to be administered for the attainment of that end." 

The document does not demand independence, but lays out why hostilities are being waged. Thomas Jefferson and John Dickinson were named to the committee, to probably finish the draft. Jefferson's first draft was not accepted and Dickinson made the revisions. (3)

Dickinson wrote: "Our cause is just. Our union is perfect. Our internal resources are great, and, if necessary, foreign assistance is undoubtedly attainable..." (3)

The Congress spelled out that the colonies were their native land. An excellent point, since most were born in the colonies, and were raised with good intentions for a productive and fruitful life. There was a freedom of birthright. That freedom was being prohibited. Points were made that Parliament had imposed laws on the Colonies and that they, members of Parliament, had no right to do so. There was no defense from the Crown. The declaration spelled out that going to arms was the only defense against such tyranny and the protection of their property was paramount. 

Congress wished to bring reconciliation with reasonable terms and to relieve the Empire of the calamities of civil war, but not at the expense of their liberties. Thus it was civil war. 

I can't help but think of how many representatives knew the war would evolve to a war of independence. British authorities were harsh in their treatment and this would get worse. As events transpired, the war took on a much more deeper meaning for the Colonials. It was becoming an all or nothing fight and the Declaration of Independence was the beacon for a totally free nation.