Throughout the world over, Trenton is known most famously for its critical role in the Revolutionary War. In fact, just this past month, Trenton was one of the key subjects of “Revolutionary Road Trip”, a program produced by the Smithsonian Associates which brought viewers on a fantastic voyage through the nation’s major sites of the Revolutionary War. Specifically, Trenton was highlighted for its connection to the Ten Crucial Days, a period of the American Revolution which turned the tides of the war and gave the American troops the momentum needed to forge ahead to their eventual victory. But what was the Ten Crucial Days, and how did this transform the trajectory of the war? Today, let’s take a glimpse at one of Mercer County’s most critical moments as we dive into the Ten Crucial Days and how it shaped the nation we now call home.
The Ten Crucial Days refers to the period between December 25th, 1776 through January 3rd, 1777, in which the American Revolution was turned on its head, leading the fledging United States to its eventual triumph. After suffering losses in New Jersey and New York, Washington and his troops retreated to Pennsylvania. Here, they would regather and plot their next attack against British forces. On December 25th, Christmas morning, Washington and his troops crossed the Delaware River in the midst of a ferocious blizzard. After arriving in the Garden State, his troops marched a grueling 10 miles to Trenton, where they conducted a successful sneak attack against Hessian forces. At the Battle of Trenton, the Continental Army pulled off a massive win, marking their first victory since the start of the war.
Afterwards, the troops retreated back to Pennsylvania, with their prisoners and stolen goods in-tow. After finding out that the British has withdrawn their troops from Trenton, Washington and his crew once again regrouped and planned their next attack. After convincing his troops to stick around for another six weeks, on December 31st, Washington’s troops once again hit the road, this time setting their sites on Princeton. After a brief skirmish with the British and Hessians in Princeton, the troops once again returned to the Capital City for the Second Battle of Trenton.
After thwarting off over 8,000 of General Cornwallis’s troops in Trenton, Washington’s troops returned to Princeton for one final battle. After ten days of tireless fighting, the Continental Army was able to dial in one final victory, marking the conclusion of the Ten Crucial Days. By the conclusion of the war, the Continental Army would fight for a total of seven years before victory would finally prevail, sealing the United States’ rightful spot as a nation of its own. And as we look back at how this nation came to be, may we never neglect Trenton’s crucial role in revolutionizing the trajectory of the Revolutionary War.