Monday, January 3, 2011

Tenth Crucial Day

Today is the anniversary of the Battle of Princeton, which took place on the morning of January 3, 1777. The American victory at Princeton closed a period now known as the Ten Crucial Days that began when Washington's army crossed the Delaware River on Christmas night and defeated the Hessian garrison occupying Trenton.

In ten days of heroic fighting in bitter winter weather, Washington and his men turned the tide of the Revolution. Since summer, when Lord Howe had defeated Washington at Brooklyn, Britain's military power had overwhelmed the Americans. British troops had occupied New York and New Jersey and threatened Philadelphia, where the Continental Congress had boldly declared independence only six months earlier. Washington's victories at Trenton and Princeton destroyed the illusion of British invincibility and restored faith in the American cause throughout the former colonies.

The Princeton Battlefield is a quiet but stirring place to visit on a winter day. Two hundred thirty-four years after the battle, it remains an important site of historical investigation. The Princeton Packet reported this past week on a new study, the "Battle of Princeton Mapping Project," which offers new insight into how and where the fighting took place. This new study applies current computer mapping techniques to information from recently discovered American and British accounts of the battle. The study was funded by the American Battlefield Protection Program and administered by the Princeton Battlefield Society.