What Happened at the Battle of Trenton in 1776?

During the Battle of Trenton, an American force led by General George Washington crossed the Delaware and defeated a force of Hessian mercenaries. Washington followed up this victory with the capture of Princeton less than 10 days later.

For most of 1776, the Continental Army had been on the defensive, retreating from a British force under General Howe in New York. The American army retreated from New Jersey as well, eventually making camp on the Pennsylvania side of the Delaware River. Morale among the troops was low, and Washington realized that his army needed a victory quickly. Washington knew of a garrison of Hessians nearby at Trenton, and planned an attack for December 26, immediately after Christmas Day. While the Hessians had received warning of the nearby Americans, they were exhausted and unprepared for battle.

Upon reaching Trenton, Washington divided his forces and began bombarding the garrison with cannon fire. After their leader was killed, the Hessians quickly surrendered, with 22 of their number killed in battle and 918 prisoners captured by the Americans. American casualties amounted to just two dead and five wounded. No Americans, however, were killed during the battle; the two who died froze to death on the difficult march to Trenton.