Why Was the Battle of Trenton so Important?

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The Battle of Trenton was an important event in the American Revolutionary War because it inspired beleaguered American soldiers to reenlist and encouraged more men to join the fledgling American military. The battle took place on December 26, 1776. General George Washington commanded the American Continental Army in a surprise attack against a garrison full of Hessian soldiers.

On Christmas Day, 1776, George Washington led the Continental Army across the partially frozen Delaware River. Several hundred soldiers were unable to complete the perilous, icy crossing, leaving Washington with fewer than 2500 men. After crossing the Delaware, Washington’s troops marched nine miles south to Trenton. On the following day, the Continental Army engaged a detachment of 1500 Hessian soldiers. Although many of the American soldiers were nearly frozen and malnourished and lacked adequate winter footwear, they trounced the Hessians. Twenty-two Hessians were killed outright, several dozen received critical injuries and roughly 900 surrendered.

The Battle of Trenton was a landslide victory for the American Continental Army, which lost only two soldiers. Only five Americans received significant injuries; one of them was future United States President James Monroe. However, hundreds more soon perished from illness, infections from previous war wounds, exposure and starvation.