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"The Battle Of Trenton" - by Don Troiani

Battle of Trenton - December 26, 1776 (The fatal wounding of Col. Rall)

Image size: 26 3/4" x 20"

Edition size: 350 signed & numbered prints

Price: $225 (when this is sold out it will only be available on our secondary market - call then for current price and availability - 800-237-6077)

The Americans look us Germans over carefully, with distaste, because we have come to help steal their freedom, ... This land, which so many poor and needy Europeans had made worthwhile, and ... among whose inhabitants love, truth, faith, and freedom of speech were to be found, were now, through war, to have their customs and well-being completely destroyed.



Diarist Corporal Philipp Steuernagel, 3rd Waldeck Regiment, reflected the extraordinary nature of the German force's arrival in America. In the first year following Lexington and Concord, the contest between Britain and her colonies had remained a "familial" conflict. By those skirmishes' anniversary, however, it was clear that George III would consider no reconciliation with his children-colonists short of their complete subjugation, for, by spring of 1776, he had contracted with six German principalities for an ultimate total of 30,000 troops. So profoundly were Americans shocked by their father-monarch's unprecedented act that public opinion swung toward the previously unlikely aim of national independence. By the first week of July, their declaration to the world's nations justifying that great stride included in its bill of royal indictments that: He is at this time transporting large armies of foreigner mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation and tyranny.



The German troops became central to the 1776 campaign aimed at destroying Washington's army. At Long Island, Kip's Bay, Harlem Heights, White Plains, and the capture of Fort Washington, Continental Army and militia troops were humiliatingly bested by European professionals. From this combat superiority, atop an innate animus toward "upstart rebels," the "Redcoats" and their "Hessian" allies developed a denigrating contempt for such "country clowns". Concurrently, American military and supporting civilian morale plummeted. During late November, with enemies in close pursuit, Washington led a dwindling remnant of his army across Jersey and toward sanctuary behind the Delaware; his less optimistic moments indeed led him to write: " ... I believe the game is pretty near up".



22 December - During the night the black Negroes and yellow dogs planned to attack us ... A detachment at the Delaware was attacked by Americans who crossed ..., set some houses on fire, and then retreated back across ... Diarist Private Johannes Reuber's unit, the Rall Grenadier Regiment, was assigned to garrison Trenton by the British command's opting for winter quarters, leaving the rebel army's destruction to await a spring campaign. Also including the Knyphausen Regiment and the Lossberg Fusiliers, the garrison brigade was commanded by fifty-year-old Colonel Johann Rall, a rough-hewn but successful combat officer with a remarkable thirty-six years of army experience. During their brief to-date service in America, these regiments had come to fully exemplify "Hessians," with savage battle performances and a growing reputation for plundering and abusing civilians. Placed at the northern-most position along the Delaware, Rall's Brigade was to manage a key "hot zone" amid the long line of occupation. Since arriving one week before Christmas, their position had been probed, harassed and disrupted by near-daily forays of local militia and patrols of Continentals from their camp across the river.



On Christmas night, Washington sprung his master stroke.



26 December - ... at daybreak, the Americans ... fired on our outposts. At the first salvo, we turned out ... to form and prepare our battle formations. Now the rebels pressed in on us. ... the Americans charged Colonel Rall's quarters, overran it, and took the cannons from the regiment. Then Colonel Rall charged with his grenadiers. ... we took our cannons and retired into the fields. Now Colonel Rall commanded, "All those who are my grenadiers, charge!" and they stormed against the city as the Americans retreated before us. However, after we had entered the city, the rebels, in three lines, marched around us, and as we again tried to retreat, they brought seven cannons into the main street. ... If the colonel had not been so seriously wounded, they would not have taken us alive. ... in the end, all was lost.



As one among about 900 prisoners, Private Reuber was quickly marched to and across the Delaware, and to a "rotten prison" on the outskirts of Philadelphia. Colonel Rall died of his wounds that evening. American patriots,

nearly all astonished, rejoiced. And the news that would electrify all of Europe and ultimately change the world began its journey.

 

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