The First Winter Encampment in Morris County
SITUATION: JANUARY 1777. Sir William Howe had been mistaken near the middle of December 1776, as Commander in Chief of His Majesty's army in America, he believed the rebellion of Great Britain's trans-Atlantic colonies crushed beyond revival. "Mr." Washington's troops had been driven from New York, pursued through New Jersey, and forced at last to cross the Delaware River into Pennsylvania. The British had captured Maj. Gen. Charles Lee, the only American general they thought possessed the real ability. Some mopping up might be necessary in the spring, but the arduous work of conquest was over. Howe could spend a comfortable winter in New York, and Lord Cornwallis, the British second in command, might sail for England an home.
Then suddenly, with whirlwind effect, these pleasant reveries were swept away in the roar of American gunfire at Trenton in the cold, gray dawn of December 26, and at Princeton on January 3. Outgenerald, bewildered, and half in panic, the British forces pulled back to New Brunswick. Now they were 60 miles from their objective at Philadelphia, instead of 19. Worst of all they have been maneuvered into this ignominious retreat by a "Tattered-mallion" army one sixth the size of their own, and they were on the defensive. "We have been boxed about in Jersey," lamented one of Howe's officers, "as if we had no feelings." George Washington with his valiant comrades in arms had weathered the dark crisis. For the time being at least, the Revolution was saved.
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