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borden The signing of Declaration of Independence brought an end to the minor skirmishes of the American rebellion.  Britain launched large-scale offensives against the Continental army commanded by George Washington, defeating the rebel forces in nearly every battle.  A few spectacular American victories kept the rebellion alive.  Two of these were the Battles of Trenton and Princeton. (Americas History, 169)

After the capture of Fort Washington on Manhattan Island in November 1776, the British general Sir William Howe forced the Americans to retreat through New Jersey and across the Delaware River into Pennsylvania. (World Book, 280)

Washingtons discouraged forces were near collapse.  New Jersey militiamen had failed to come help and the winter was taking its toll on the army.  Howe missed an opportunity to destroy the Continental Army.  As it was customary in the eighteenth century to halt military campaigns during the winter, he decided to wait until spring to attack and allowed his troops to rest in Trenton, Princeton, and other towns. (World Book, 280)

Washington saw an opportunity to attack the British.  Although he had few troops, he decided to attack the Hessian troops at Trenton.  The Hessians were German mercenaries who had long fought for the British army.  On December 25, 1776 Washington ordered the troops to cross the Delaware just after dark, but an ice storm arose. Washington's aide, Colonel John Fitzgerald wrote as the troops started across: " It is fearfully cold and raw and a snowstorm is setting in. The wind northeast and beats into the faces of the men. It will be a terrible night for those who have no shoes. Some of them have tied only rags about their feet: others are barefoot, but I have not heard a man complain." (Discovering American History, ?)

Colonel Glover's soldiers from Marblehead, Massachusetts, who were primarily sailors, carried the soldiers across the river. They managed to get about 2400 men, their horses and 18 cannons across the icy river. The two other units, one to cross to the south of Trenton, and one farther south at Bristol, were unable to cross, due to the storm and ice. These southern crossings were to prevent the escape of the Hessians and to prevent reinforcements from supporting Trenton.  Fortunately all British reinforcements were tied up with colonial militias. (Decisive battles of the American revolution, ?)

Delayed by the storm, Washington's troops did not get across until 4:00 AM, well behind schedule for the early morning attack. They marched south to Trenton along the river and Pennington Road. (Decisive battles of the American revolution, ?)

General Sullivan sent word that the men's muskets would not fire due to being exposed to the storm all night. Washington replies telling them to rely on the bayonet-"I am resolved to take Trenton." (Americas History, 169)

At 8:00 AM Washington's army met a group of Hessians just outside of Trenton. The Hessians began to open fire. The battle of Trenton had begun.
The Americans moved to quickly for the Hessian officers to gather and form their troops. They were constantly attacked by fast moving American units, charging in to cover all routes in or out of the town. (untitled, 1)

Washington then ordered that the American cannons should be placed on a hill that oversaw the two main streets of the town. The Hessians tried to counter with some of their own cannons, but these were captured before doing any damage. The Americans moved rapidly and aggressively, closing in on the Hessians, breaking up their formations. (untitled, 1)
A large group of Hessians retreated to an apple orchard.  They mounted up an attack trying to get back into Trenton, but when some civilians from the town and soldiers firde at them from buildings, they were utterly defeated. After trying to retreat back to the orchard, they were surrounded by Americans and surrendered. (Americas History, p170?)

The remainder of the Hessians troops were positioned on the south end of town. They decide to try to retreat to Bordentown, but were slowed by trying to pull a cannon through a boggy area of a creek. They were soon surrounded and surrender as well. (Americas History, p170?)

Although many Hessians escape in small groups, over 900 were captured. Another 106 were killed or wounded. The American army had ... more

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Claira Barton




Clarissa Harlowe Barton was born December 25, 1821, in North Oxford, Massachusetts. Her father, Captain Stephen Barton, was a farmer, horse breeder, and respected member of the community. Her mother, Sarah, managed the household and taught Barton the importance of cleanliness.
Barton was the youngest of five children, and her two brothers and two sisters assumed much of the responsibility for her education. Her sister, Dorothy, taught her spelling, Stephen taught her arithmetic, Sally taught her geography, and David coached her in athletics. With their help, Barton received a vast and diverse education. By the time she started school at age 4, Barton could already spell three-syllable words. She found school to be quite easy and studied such subjects as philosophy, chemistry, and Latin. Bartons only problem was her extreme shyness.
At 17, Barton became a teacher in Massachusettss District 9, located in Worcester County. During the next 6 years, she taught in several schools, before establishing her own school in North Oxford. At the age of 29, after teaching for more than 10 years, Barton yearned for a change. As a result, she entered the Liberal Institute in Clinton, New York, an advanced school for female teachers. Among her other studies, Barton worked on her writing and took private classes in French.
After a year in Clinton, Barton accepted a teaching position in New Jersey. She subsequently opened a free school in Bordentown, and the schools attendance grew to more than 600 students. When the school board refused to offer Barton the principal position to head the school and hired a man instead, she found herself at a crossroads. Following a period of physical and emotional exhaustion, Barton moved to Washington DC, where she worked as a clerk in the U.S Patent Office.
At the outbreak of the Civil War, Barton resigned from the Patent Office to work as a volunteer. She begged everyone she knew for food and clothing. When she filled her small apartment with supplies she would rent warehouse space to fit more. She would visit army camps and pass out gifts to soldiers, including tobacco, which she thought was the devil, to help keep spirits high.
She fought for her right to go to the front to help out with medical supplies and nursing. The Battle of Cedar Mountain was the first time she gave first aid to the wounded. The ones who were very sick received bread soaked in wine. She cooked soup and applesauce for some and passed out free t-shirts she had collected. Greatful for these comforts, the men gave her the nickname, Angel of the Battlefield.
While back in Washington, Barton heard that the Union had suffered a defeat. At daybreak, her and two other women packed supplies on a freight cart and made the journey to the second Battle of Bull Run.  They had boxes of bandages, drugs, coffee, brandy, cans of soup, juices and crackers.  At nighttime, the three women would move from one man to another, wrapping blankets around them and giving them small amounts of food.
A few days before the Battle of Antietam, Clara learned where the fighting would be. She left Washington with a string of mules and a wagon with four men escorting her. The cart was pilled high with supplies. She caught up with some of the wounded and gave them bread she had bought on the way. She knew she was on a battlefield as her wagon rolled over the dead. While they were stopped, she noticed that in the army supply wagons, the ammunition came first, then food, then medical supplies. That night she made her party get up at one in the morning and take a short cut to get ahead of the army wagons.  She followed the sound of the cannon as stray bullets flew over her head to make it to a hospital to help the wounded. Because she had left earlier than the armies supply wagons, she was able to make it, and the army lines were stuck until the battle was over in fear of getting caught.
During the years following the war, Barton lectured about her war experiences, continued her work at the Office of Correspondence, ... more

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