by General Gates. '*
" By General Gates ! Where is he ? "
"I left him this morning in Philadelphia, sir."
" What was he doing there } "
"I understood him that he was on his way to
"On his way to Congress!" said the general
earnestly, with much surprise and disgust in his
tone. And then, after a pause, he broke the seal
and read the letter, frowning; after which he
crumpled the paper up in his hand, and then turned
again to the officer. " How did you find us, sir.? "
" I followed the bloody footprints of the men on
the snow, sir."
CROSSING THE DELAWARE
" Poor fellows ! Did you learn anything of Gen-
eral Ewing or General Cadwalader? *'
" And General Putnam ? "
" He bade me say that there were symptoms of an
insurrection in the city, and he felt obliged to stay
there. He has detached six hundred of the Penn-
sylvania militia, however, under Colonel Griffin, to
advance toward Bordentown."
" 'T is well, sir. Do you remain to participate in
our attack ? "
" Yes, sir, I belong to General St. Clair's brigade."
"You will find it over there; it has not yet
crossed. Now, gentlemen, let us get aboard."
The general stepped forward in the boat, where
Bentley, an enormous pole in his hands, was sta-
tioned, and the remainder of the party soon em-
barked. The order was given to shove ofif. The
usual difficulties and the usual fortune attended the
passage of the boat with its precious freight, until it
neared the east bank, when one of the largest cakes
that had passed swiftly floated down upon it.
" Pull, men, pull hard ! " cried Colonel Glover, as
he saw its huge bulk alongside. " Head the boat
up the stream, Mr. Seymour. Forward, there â€” be
ready to push off with your poles. " As the result
of these prompt manoeuvres, the oncoming mass of
ice, which was too large to be avoided, instead of
crashing into them amidships and sinking the boat,
struck them a quartering blow on the bow, and com-
menced to grind along the sides of the boat, which
heeled so far over that the water began to trickle in
through the oar-locks on the other side.
FOR LOVE OF COUNTRY
"Steady, men," said Glover, calmly. "Sit still,
for your lives."
Bentley had thrown his pole over on the ice-cake
promptly, and was now bearing down upon it with
all the strength of his powerful arms. But the task
was beyond him ; the ice and the boat clung together,
and the ice was reinforced by several other cakes
which its checked motion permitted to close with it.
The vast mass crashed against the side of the boat ;
the oar of the first rower was broken short off at the
oar-lock; if the others went the situation of the
helpless boat would be, indeed, hopeless. The gen-
eral himself came to the rescue. Promptly divining
the situation, he stepped forward to Bentley's side,
and threw his own immense strength upon the pole.
Great beads of sweat stood out on Bentley* s bronzed
forehead as he renewed his efforts ; the stout hickory
sapling bent and crackled beneath the pressure of
the two men, but held on, and the boat slowly but
steadily began to swing clear of the ice. These two
Homeric men held it off by sheer strength, until the
boat was in freewater, and the men, who had sat like
statues in their places, could once more use their
oars. The general stepped back into his place,
cool and calm as usual, and entirely unruffled by
his great exertions. Bentley wiped the sweat from
his face, and turned and looked back at him in
"Friend Bentley," he said quietly, "you are a
man of mighty thews and sinews. Had it not been
for your powerful arms, I fear we would have had a
bucking â€” or worse. "
"Lord love you, your honor," said the astonished
CROSSING THE DELAWARE
tailor, " I Ve met my match ! It was your arm that
saved us. I was almost done for. I never saw such
strength as that, though when I was younger I
would have done better. What a man you would be
for reefing topsails in a gale o' wind, your honor,
sir!*' he continued, thrusting his pole vigorously
into a small and impertinent cake of ice in the way.
The general was proud of his great strength, and
not ill pleased at the genuine and hearty admiration
of this genuine and hearty man.
A few moments later they stepped ashore, and a
mighty cheer went up from the men who had crowded
upon the banks, at the safety of their beloved
general. Greene met him at the landing, and the
two men clasped hands. The general immediately
mounted his powerful white horse, and stationed
himself on a little hillock to watch the landing of
the rest of the men, engaging General Greene in a
low conversation the while.
"Do you know, Greene, that Gates has refused
my entreaty to stop one day at Bristol, and take
command of Reed*s and Cadwalader's troops and
help us in the attack ! I did not positively order
him to do so ; only requested him to delay his jour-
ney by a day or two. I can't understand his action.
A letter was handed me just before we crossed by
Wilkinson, telling me that he had gone on to
" To Congress ! What wants he there ? Oh, gen-
eral, it seems as if you had to fight two campaigns,
â€” one against the enemy, and the other against
secret, nay open, attempts to minimize your author*
jty and check your plans.*'
FOR LOVE OF COUNTRY
"It seems so, Greene; but with a just cause to
sustain, and the blessing of God to help our efforts,
we cannot ultimately fail, though, indeed, it may be
better that I give place to another man, more able to
save the country," went on the general, solemnly.
" Forbid it. Heaven ! " cried Greene, passionately.
"We, at least, in the army, know to whom has been
committed this work; ay, and who has done it, and
will do it, too! We will stand by you to the last.
Could you not feel in the cheers of those frozen men,
when you landed, the love they bear you ? '*
"Yes, I know that you are with me, and they
too. *Tis that alone that gives me heart. Did
you publish the orders about the capture of the
transport ? "
" Yes, sir, and it put new heart in the men, I could
see. I wish we had the supplies, the clothing es-
pecially, now. It grows colder every moment."
" Ay, and darker, too ; I think we shall have snow
again before we get through with the night. I won-
der how the others down the river have got along.
But who comes here ? *' continued the general, as
two men walked hastily up to him and saluted.
"Well, sir.?" he said to the first.
"Message from General Ewing, sir."
" Did he get across i "
" No, sir, the ice was so heavy he bade me say he
deemed it useless to try it."
"One piece removed from the game. General
Greene, " said Washington, smiling bitterly. "Now
your news, sir? " to the other.
" General Cadwalader got a part of his men across,
but the ice banks so against the east side that not a
CROSSING THE DELAWARE
single horse or piece of artillery could be landed^ sa
he bade me say he has recrossed with his men, sir."
"And there's the other piece gone, too! Now,
what is to be done? "
General Sullivan, having crossed with the last of
his division, at this moment rode up.
"The troops are all across, general,'* he said.
"Well done! What time is it, some one?"
"Half after eleven, sir," answered a voice.
" Very well, indeed ! We have now only to wait
for the guns. But, gentlemen, I have just heard that
Ewing made no attempt to cross, and that Cadwala-
der, having tried it, failed. He could get his men
over, but no horses and guns, on account of the
ice on the bank, and therefore he returned, and
we are here alone. What, think you, is to be done
There was a moment's silence.
" Perhaps we would better recross and try it again
on a more favorable night," finally said De Fermoy,
in his broken accents.
**Yes, yes, that might be well," said one or two
others, simultaneously. The most of them, how-
ever, said nothing. The general waited a moment,
looking about him.
"Gentlemen, it is too late to retreat. I promised
myself I would not return without a fight, and I
intend to keep that promise. We will carry out the
plan, ourselves, as much of it at least as we can. I
trust Putnam got Griffin off, and that his skirmishers
may draw out Von Donop. But be that as it may,
we will have a dash at Trenton, and try to bag the
game, and get away before the enemy can fall upon
FOR LOVE OF COUNTRY
us in force. General Greene, you, of course have
sent out pickets?"
"Yes, sir, the first men who crossed over, a mile
up the road, on the hill yonder. "
"Good! Ha, what was that? Snow, as I live,
and the moon 's gone, too! How dark it has grown !
I think you might allow the men to light fires in
those hollows, and let them move about a little;
they will freeze to death standing still â€” I won-
der they don't, anyway. How unfortunate is this
snow ! "
" Beg pardon, your excellency ? *' said the first of
the two messengers.
" What is it, man ? Speak out ! "
" Can we stay here and take part in your attack,
" Certainly you may. Fall in with the men there.
Where are your horses ? "
"We left them on the other side, sir."
"Well, they will have to stay there for this time,
and you *11 have to go on foot with the rest."
"Thank you, sir," said the men, eagerly, darting
off in the darkness.
"That 's a proper spirit, isn't it? Well, to your
stations, gentlemen! We have nothing to do now
but wait. Don't allow the men to lie down or to
sleep, on any account."
And wait they did, for four long hours, the
general sitting motionless and silent on his horse,
wrapped in his heavy cloak, unheeding, alike, the
whirling snow or the cutting sleet of the storm,
which grew fiercer every moment. He strained his
eyes out into the blackness of the river from time
CROSSING THE DELAWARE
to time, or looked anxiously at the troops, clustered
about the fires, or tramping restlessly up and down
in their places to ward ofif the deadly attack of the
awful winter night, while some of them sought shel-
ter, behind trees and hillocks, from the fury of the
storm. Filled with his own pregnant thoughts, and
speaking to no one, he waited, and no man ventured
to break his silence. At half after three General
Knox, whose resolute will and iron strength had
been exerted to the full, and whose mighty voice
had been heard from time to time above the shriek
of the fierce wind, was able to report that he had got
all the artillery over without the loss of a man, a
horse, or a gun, and was ready to proceed. The
men were h^tily assembled, and, leaving a strong
detail to guard the boats, at four o'clock in the
morning the long and awful march to Trenton was
begun, the general and his staff, escorted by the
Philadelphia City Troop, in the lead. The storm
was at its height. All hopes of a night attack and
surprise had necessarily to be abandoned. Still the
general pressed on, determined to abide the issue,
and make the attack as soon as he reached the
enemy. It was the last effort of liberty, conceived
in desperation and bom in the throes of hunger and
cold ! What would the bringing forth be ?
Trenton â€” The Lion Strikes
THE route, for the first mile and a half, lay up a
steep hill, where the men were much exposed
and suffered terribly; after that, for three miles or
so, it wound in and out between the hills, and through
forests of ash and black oak, which afforded some
little shelter. The storm raged with unabated fury,
and the progress of the little army was very slow.
The men were in good spirits, however, and they
cheerfully toiled on over the roads covered with
deep drifts, bearing as best they might the driving
tempest It was six in the morning when they
reached the little village of Birmingham, where the
two columns divided: General Greene's column,
accompanied by Washington, taking the longer or
inland road, called the Pennington road, which en-
tered the town from the northeast ; while Sullivan's
column followed the lower road, which entered the
town from the west, by way of a bridge over the
Assunpink Creek. As Greene had a long detour to
make, Sullivan had orders to wait where the cross-
road from Rowland's Ferry intersected his line of
march, until the first column had time to effect the
longer circuit, so that the two attacks might be de-
livered together. General Washington himself rode
in front of the first column. It was still frightfully
TRENTONâ€” THE LION STRIKES
About daybreak the general spied an officer on
horseback toiling through the snowdrifts toward him.
As the horseman drew nearer, he recognized young
"What is it now, sir?"
" General Sullivan says that the storm has ren-
dered many of his muskets useless, by wetting the
priming and powder. He wishes to know what is to
be done, sir?"
" Return instantly, and tell him he must use the
bayonet ! When he hears the firing, he is to advance
and charge immediately. The town must be taken,
and I intend to take it."
** Very good, sir," said the young man, saluting.
" Can you get through the snow in time ? "
" Yes, sir," he replied promptly. " I can get
through anything, if your excellency will give the
The general smiled approvingly. It was evident
that young man's first lesson had been a good one ;
his emphasis, he was glad to see, had not been mis-
When Martin rejoined Sullivan's column, which
had been halted at the cross-roads, the men who had
witnessed his departure were eagerly waiting his
return. As he repeated the general's reply, they
began slipping the bayonets over the muzzles of
their guns without orders. So eager were they to
advance, that Sullivan had difficulty in restraining
them until the signal was given. Such was their
temper and spirit that, in the excitement of the mo-
ment, they recked little of the freezing cold and the
hardships of their terrible march. The retreating
FOR LOVE OF COUNTRY
army was at last on the offensive, they were about to
attack now, and no attack is so dangerous as that
delivered by men from whom the compelling neces-
sity of retreat has been suddenly removed.
It was about eight o'clock in the morning when
they came in sight of the town. The village of
Trenton then contained about one hundred houses,
mostly frame, scattered along both sides of two long
streets, and chiefly located on the west bank of the
Assunpink, which here bent sharply to the north be-
fore it flowed into the Delaware. The Assunpink was
fordable in places at low water, but it was spanned
by a substantial stone bridge, which gave on the
road followed by Sullivan, at the west end of the
village. Washington came down from the north,
and entered the village from the other side. About
half a mile from the edge of the town, the column
led by him came abreast of an old man, chopping
wood in a farm-yard by the roadside.
"Which is the way to the Hessian picket?" said
" I don*t know," replied the man, sullenly.
" You may tell," said Captain Forest, riding near
the general, at the head of his battery, " for this is
The man's expression altered at once.
" God bless and prosper you ! " he cried eagerly,
raising his hands to heaven. '* There ! The picket
is in that house yonder, and the sentry stands near
The intense cold and heavy snow had driven the
twenty-five men, who composed the advance picket,
to shelter, and they were huddled together in one of
TRENTON â€”THE LION STRIKES
the rude huts which served as a guard-house. The
snow deadened the sound of the American advance,
and the careless sentry did not perceive them. No
warning was given until the lieutenant in command
of the guard stepped out of the house by chance,
and gave the alarm in great surprise. The picket
rushed out, and the men lined up in the road in front
of the column, the thick snow preventing them from
forming a correct idea of the approaching force.
The advance guard of the Continentals, led by Cap-
tain William A. Washington and Lieutenant James
Monroe, instantly swept down upon them. After a
scattered volley which hurt no one, they fled precip-
itately back toward the village, giving the alarm and
rallying on the main guard, posted nearer the centre
of the town, which had been speedily drawn up, to
the number of seventy-five men. Meanwhile Sulli-
van's men, with Stark at the head, had routed the
pickets on the other road in the same gallant style.
This picket was composed of about fifty Hessian
chasseurs, and twenty English light dragoons, under
command of Lieutenant Grothausen of the chas-
seurs. They all fled so precipitately that they did
not stop to alarm the brigade which they had been
stationed to protect, but rapidly galloped down the
road, and, crossing the bridge over the Assunpink,
made good their escape toward Bordentown. Grave
suspicions of cowardice attached thereafter to their
commanding officer. Had Ewing performed his
part in the plan, the bridge would have been held,
and they would have been captured with the rest.
Stark's men, followed by the rest of Sullivan's divi-
sion, were now pushed on rapidly for the town, and
FOR LOVE OF COUNTRY
the cheers of the New England men were distinctly
heard by Washington and his men on the main road.
The main guard on the upper road, almost as
completely surprised as the other by the dashing
onslaught of the Americans, made another futile
attempt at resistance to Greene's column, but they
soon fell back in great disorder upon the main body.
It was broad daylight now, and the violence of the
storm had somewhat abated. In the town, where
the firing had been heard, the drums of the three
regiments were rapidly beating the assembly. Colo-
nel Rahl was in bed, sleeping off the effects of his
previous night's indulgences, when he heard the
commotion. Jumping from the bed and running
rapidly to the window, still undressed, he thrust
out his head and asked the acting brigade adjutant,
Biel, â€” who was hurriedly galloping past, â€” what it
was all about. There was a total misapprehension on
all sides, even at this hour, as to the serious nature
of the attack ; so the confused colonel, satisfied with
Biel's surmise that it was a raid, ordered him to take
a company and go to the assistance of the main
guard, in the supposition that it was only a skirmish-
ing party, and never dreaming of a general attack.
Nevertheless he then dressed rapidly, and, running
down to the street, mounted his horse, which had been
brought around. The three regiments which com-
prised his brigade and command were already form-
ing ; they were the regiment Rahl, the regiment Von
Lossburg, and the regiment Von Knyphausen. At
this moment the advance party and the main guard
came running through the streets in great confusion,
crying that the whole rebel army was down upon
TRENTONâ€” THE UON STRIKES
them. The regiment Rahl and the regiment Von
Lossburg at once began retreating to an apple
orchard back of the town; firing ineffectively in
their excitement, as they ran, from behind the houses,
at the head of the column, which had now appeared
in the street ; while the regiment Von Knyphausen,
under the command of Major Von Dechow, the
second in command of the brigade, separated from
the two others and made for the bridge over the
King and Queen streets run together at the east
end of the town. There Washington stationed him-
self, on the left of Forest's battery, which was imme-
diately unlimbered and opened up a hot fire. The
general's position was much exposed, and after his
horse had been wounded, his officers repeatedly re-
quested him to fall back to a safer point, which he
peremptorily refused to do. The joy of battle
sparkled in his eyes; he had instinctively chosen
that position on the field from whence he could best
see and direct the conflict, and nothing but a success-
ful charge of the enemy upon them could have moved
him to retire.
A few of the cooler-headed men among the Hessians
had rallied some of the Lossburg regiment, and two
guns had been run out into the street and pointed up
toward the place where Washington stood, to form a
battery, which might, could it have been served, have
held the American army in check until such time as
the startled Germans could recover their wits and
make a stand. General Washington pointed them
out to the officer of the advance guard, which had
already done such good service, with a wave of his
FOR LOVE OF COUNTRY
sword. The little handful of men, led by Captain
Washington and Lieutenant Monroe, charged down
upon the guns, which the party had not had time to
load. A scattering volley received them. Captain
Washington and Monroe and one of the men were
wounded, another fell dead; the men hesitated.
Talbot sprang to the head of the column, in obedi-
ence to the general's nod, and they rallied, advanced
on the run, and the guns were immediately captured.
Meanwhile the fire of Stark's riflemen could be
heard at the other end of the town. St. Clair's
brigade held the bridge; the regiment Von Kny-
phauscn lost a few precious moments endeavoring to
extricate its guns, which had become mired in the
morass near the bridge, and then charged upon St
Clair. But it was too late ; Von Dechow was seriously
wounded, and when the regiment saw itself taken in
the flank by Sargeant's brigade, it retired in disorder,
though some few men escaped by the fords.
At this juncture Rahl re-formed his scattered troops
in the apple orchard. He seems to have had an idea
of retreating toward Princeton at first, with the two
regiments still under his command ; at any rate, he
also lost precious moments by hesitation. It was
even then too late to effect a successful retreat, for
Washington, foreseeing the possibility, had promptly
sent Hand's Pennsylvania riflemen along the Pen-
nington road back of the town to check any move in
that direction. As fast as the other brigades of
Greene's column came up, they were sent down
through the streets of the town, until Stirling, in the
lead, joined Sullivan's men. Rahl's brigade was prac-
tically surrounded, though he did not know it. The
TRENTONâ€” THE LION STRIKES
commander completely lost his head, though he
was a courageous man, brave to rashness, and a
veteran soldier who had hitherto distinguished him-
self in this and many other wars. The town was full
of plunder gathered by the troops, the Hessians
having been looting the country for weeks ; and he
could not abandon it without a struggle. The idea
of flying from a band of ragged rebels whom he had
scouted, was intolerable. He had been, he now felt,
more than culpable in neglecting many warnings of
attack, and had lamentably failed in his duty as a
soldier, in refraining from taking the commonest pre-
cautions against surprise. He had refused to heed
the urgent representations of Von Dechow, and other
of his high officers. Now his honor was at stake ; so
he rashly made up his mind to charge.
" We will retake the town. All who are my gren-
adiers â€” forward ! " he cried intrepidly.
The men, with fixed bayonets, advanced bravely,
and he led them gallantly forward, sword in hand.
The Americans fired a volley ; Foresfs battery,
which enfiladed them, poured in a deadly fire. Rahl
in the advance, upon his horse, received a fatal wound
and fell to the ground. The Continentals, cheering
madly, charged forward with fixed bayonets. The
Hessians stopped â€” hesitated â€” wavered â€” their
chief was gone â€” the battle was lost â€” they broke
and fled ! Disregarding the commands and appeals
of their officers, they turned quickly to the right, and
ran off" into the face of Hand's riflemen, who received
them with another volley. Many of them fell. A
body of Virginia troops led by Talbot now gained
their left flank, the Philadelphia City Troop encircled
FOR LOVE OF COUNTRY
their rear. The helpless men stopped, completely
bewildered, huddled together in a confused mass.
Washington, seeing imperfectly, and thinking they
were forming again, ordered the guns from Forest's