After the battle of Trenton, Cornwallis reacted with his typical enthusiasm. He rushed 8,000 men from Princeton to Trenton.
Washington had his back against the Delaware, fighting in muddy fields, as he tried to position his men against the British threat.
Luckily the weather intervened, bring in well received freezing temperatures. With the muddy fields freezing, troops, artillery and horses could move again.
Now the war council had a decision to make. Face the 8,000 man British army or retreat once again. One officer suggested a surprising alternative, which was accepted.
His suggestion, sneak around the British forces and head into the center of New Jersey. Washington left just enough men behind to keep fires burning so the approaching British would think Washington's army was still there.
On the night of January 2nd, Washington's army creep quietly past Cornwallis's troops.
Artillery pieces had their wheels covered with cloth. Men held cannon chains to keep them from clinking together.
Troops walk slowly, tree stumps and roots causing many to fall, slowing the army's progress.
One group of Cornwallis's soldiers, who were headed to Trenton to capture Washington, was being lead by Lt. Col. Mahwood.
In the distance, Mahwood spotted the flash of bayonets as they head toward Stony Brook bridge. The American troops were being lead by General Mercer with orders to destroy the bridge since it was a major communication point for the British.
Mahwood turned and attacked. The battle of Princeton was on.
The battle did not start out well for the Americans. They were notoriously slow reloading their weapons. In fact, one British officer said the Americans are to be pitied, they take 15 minutes to reload their weapons all the while facing our bayonets.
As the British approached, bayonets drawn, a pocket of soldiers panicked. And the panic spread.
Washington jumped on his horse and road out on to the battle field. One of his aides was so sure he would be killed in the thick of bullets and bayonets, he covered his eyes. Of course Washington survived, and rallied the troops.
Henry Knox's cannons fired across the meadow. Over a ridge, flowed more troops from Rhode Island, Massachusetts, and Pennsylvania. Mahwood's soldiers hesitated, then their lines broke.
British soldiers turned and ran, using the road to Trenton for their flight. Because of the number of British troops by the river in Trenton, chasing the fleeing British was not an option.
Inside the city of Princeton, British officers were trying to rally their troops around Nassau Hall.
Knox's cannons fired three shots - one bounced off a wall, the second created a dent, still visible today, and the third flew through a window decapitation a picture of King George. The British surrendered.
This second victory came at a high cost, but kept the American hopes alive.
General Howe, having witnessed two major defeats at the hands of the Americans, pulled all his troops back to New York, effectively ending British presence in the colony.
Washington moved on to the hills outside Morrisville for the winter. In the spring he would move on to New York.