As 1776 came to a close, the success of the American Revolution was looking extremely dire. The Continental Army was in shambles and the new nation was in jeopardy. They suffered from low morale and desertion after having been forced to retreat from New York and New Jersey. A decisive victory was needed to increase morale. This post goes over the total casualties in the Battle of Trenton.
Camping on the Pennsylvania side of the Delaware River, even George Washington privately expressed his doubts about the Americans chances. Something needed to be done and quickly, as many of the army enlistments were expiring at year end. With this in mind, Washington set his sight on a decisive victory at Trenton.
About 1,400 Hessian troops were garrisoned at Trenton. The Hessians were mercenaries from one of the German states hired to fight by the British. These troops were well disciplined and experienced fighters.
On Christmas night 1776, Washington gave the order to cross the Delaware River. Under the cover of darkness the Continental Army was to launch a surprise attack against the Hessians and capture the city.
The Battle of Trenton Total Casualties
From the start the attack had the makings of a disaster. Due to poor weather the river crossing delayed their advance by 3 hours. In addition, while Washington’s ~2,400 men successfully crossed, the other two contingents of ~3,000 men failed to make the crossing. The Americans pressed on despite the delay and less manpower.
After marching all night Washington’s men arrived in the city around 8am. The Hessians were completely caught off guard at the fierce American surprise attack. The battle was over in just 90 minutes. The Americans suffered minimal casualties while capturing over 2/3rds of the Hessian force.
The victory renewed confidence in the American cause and proved the Continental army could stand up to British regulars. It also helped to attract army enlistments and re enlistments for 1777. As Washington is reported to have said: “This is a glorious day for our country”.