The Battle of Trenton
Learn more about how General Washington's troops surprised the Hessian soldiers at Trenton and won a crucial strategic and material victory.
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General Washington issued the following General Orders just one day after the successful Battle of Trenton in 1776. In addition to offering rewards to officers and soldiers for their "spirited behavior" Washington also used these orders as an opportunity to address the soldiers whose enlistments were set to expire at the end of the year. Calling on the language from Thomas Paine's "The Crisis," Washington encouraged his soldiers to stay and continue the "glorious work" that they had begun.
HEAD QUARTERS: NEWTON [Pa.], Dec. 27, 1776
THE GENERAL, with the utmost sincerity and affection, thanks the Officers and soldiers for their spirited and gallant behavior at Trenton yesterday. It is with inexpressible pleasure that he can declare, that he did not see a single instance of bad behavior in either officers or privates; and that if any fault can be found, it proceeded from a too great eagerness to push forward upon the Enemy. Much! very much, indeed, is it to be lamented that when Men are brought to play the part of Soldiers thus well, that any of them, for the sake of a little temporary ease, should think of abandoning the cause of Liberty and their Country at so important a crisis. - As a reward to the officers and soldiers for their spirited behavior in such inclement weather, the General will (in behalf of the Continent) have all the Field pieces, the Arms, Accoutrements, Horses and everything else which was taken yesterday, valued and a proportionate distribution of the Amount made among the Officers (if they choose to partake) and the Men who crossed the River.
The Commissary is strictly ordered to provide Rum for the Troops that it may be served as Occasion shall require
Col. Bradley's Reg't or such part of them as have overstayed the time for which they were engaged, and are still in Camp, have the General's thanks for so doing, and may be dismissed if they choose it; But as we have begun the glorious work of driving the Enemy, he hopes they will not now turn their backs upon them, and leave the business half finished at this important Crisis, a Crisis, which may, more than probably determine the fate of America. The General therefore not only invites them to a longer continuance, but earnestly exhorts the Officers and Soldiers of all those Regiments whose term of service expires in a few days, to remain.
The Col's and Commanding Officers of each Regiment are, without delay, to have the Plunder of every kind (taken by his Reg't) collected and given in to the Quar. Master Gen'l that the men may receive the value of it.