Remembering George Washington’s New Year’s Victory Over the British at Princeton


PRINCETON, N.J.—What began as a retreat from battle-hardened, bayonet-wielding British soldiers 240 years ago, Gen. George Washington reorganized into a counterattack after arriving with well-armed reinforcements in a place known as Maxwell’s Field.

This battleground in Princeton, New Jersey, is where the U.S. War of Independence reached a critical turning point.

“Parade with us, my brave fellows!” Washington is said to have called out to his troops, “and we will have them directly.”

A tall and imposing figure even by today’s standards, Washington was “an easy mark for any British soldier” while mounted on his white horse, historian David Hackett Fischer recounts in his book “Washington’s Crossing.”

An 1848 painting by American artist William T. Ranney is titled “Washington Rallying the Americans at the Battle of Princeton.” (Photo: Princeton University Art Museum/Princeton Battlefield Society)

But the British didn’t hit Washington. He rallied two broken brigades back into offensive positions, where they concentrated musket fire on British soldiers and forced them to clear the field.

The end result was a major victory for the Continental Army on Jan. 3, 1777, that would reignite the American Revolution. Historical records show that Washington’s maneuvers on Maxwell’s Field turned the tide of the battle at a …read more