The Battle for Self-Government in Trenton, New Jersey

The Battle for Self-Government in Trenton, New Jersey

Capture of the Hessians at Trenton, by John Tr...

Capture of the Hessians at Trenton, by John Trumbull (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Woodrow Wilson became president of the United States in 1913 and served for two-terms.  Before that he was governor of N.J., before that he was president of Princeton University. While contemporary residents of N.J. and Pa. enjoying celebrating Washington’s Crossing each year, and the subsequent re-enactments of the two Battles of Trenton, they are actually living in Wilson’s progressive world. That’s the one where un-elected judges and union leaders call all the shots at the expense of self-government. 100 years have passed since Wilson became president (1913-2013) and the current governor of N.J. is now considered the front-runner for the Republican nomination in 2016. While he has critics on the right, Chris Christie has done more to restore self-government than any other governor of N.J. in recent memory. This is the subject of an upcoming post in TheBlaze.

“N.J. Long Road Ahead” is the subject of piece I co-authored with Vincent Vernuccio, an attorney who served in the U.S. Department of Labor during the Bush Administration. The paper details the key factors responsible for the erosion of self-government in N.J. Christie has pushed back with some success in a very tough state. That’s the history behind the Battles of Trenton are so important right now. Prior to the “Ten Crucial Days,” the American Revolution appeared to be lost. If Washington’s battered and beleaguered Continental Army could faith back then, we can have it again today.

Visitors to the Old Barracks Museum in Trenton, where some of the Hessians were based during the first battle, will find that historical interpreters who work in the building are determined to correct a few myths.

“The Hessians were not drunk during that first battle,” Wendy Moyer, one of the interpreters explained during an interview. “They were taken by surprise, that’s true. They were not expecting to confront a large force. But it was a straight up fight and the Hessians  fought very well. I think it’s better this way. I’m proud to know that we beat the Hessians in a fight that was fair and square and they were soundly beaten.”

Almost 900 Hessians were taken prisoner, 83 were wounded, and 22 were killed. All told, there were about 1,400 Hessians under the command of Johann Rall who was fatally wounded in the battle and is still buried in Trenton. On the American side, casualties were very light. Two soldiers died from exposure and five others were wounded including Lt. James Monroe, the future president, and William Washington, who was the general’s cousin.

Visitors to Trenton who were on hand for the battle re-enactments that took place on the Saturday after Christmas were surprised to learn that the first battle went down so decisively.

“I had no idea that battle was so lopsided in favor of the Americans,” Rob McCleish of East Windsor said. “It’s important to remind people about how our country came about. They did a nice job here of letting us get close to where cannon battle was fought.”

There were about 1400 Hessian soliders under the command of Johann Rall, who was fatally wounded during the battle, and is still buried in Trenton.

“If there was one group of Hessians that had it coming this would be them,” Asher Lurie, an Old Barracks interpreter, said. “Washington and his troops had faced these same Hessians up in White Plains, N.Y.”

Yes, there were two battles, not one. There was the first Battle of Trenton against the Hessians. Washington re-crossed again to fight the British in the Second Battle of Trenton. He was almost trapped between the Assunpink Creek and the Delaware River. But he slipped behind Gen. Charles Cornwallis’s position at night and attacked a smaller British garrison in Princeton the next day. That’s what’s meant by the “Ten Crucial Days.”

Carrie Wetherby, a residents of Bucks County, Pa. was seeing the re-enactments for the first time.

” I enjoy patriotic experiences,” she said. “I was glad to see such a good turnout.

She was accompanied by Lance Visco, who was visiting from North Carolina.

“This is where the battle turned,” Visco said. “The cause was lost before then. I saw the re-enactments when I was younger, but now I can see why the Battles of Trenton were so important. They changed everything.”




Author: Kevin Mooney

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