History Buffs: Memorial Day Re-enactment at Princeton Battlefield!

The Princeton Battlefield Society is presenting a Memorial Day re-enactment of Mercer's attack and the British counter attack on Jan.3, 1777.  The re-enactment takes place throughout the day at the battlefield.  People from around the world visit Princeton, Mercer County, New Jersey and make a special trip to visit the battlefield.

Thomas Clarke House is a must see while at the battlefield.  The structure, built in 1772, is a white clapboard farm house. This building is central to the Battle of Princeton, fought on January 3rd, 1777, between the Continental Army under the command of General George Washington, and British Crown Forces.  The house also became hospital after the battle taking in both British and American wounded. American General Hugh Mercer, who the county is named after, died here nine days after the battle from being shot and bayoneted.

Below, we have listed facts on the Battle of Princeton:

  1. Turning Point Battle that Saved the Revolution and the culmination of the 10 crucial days campaign that started with Washington’s crossing of the Delaware
  2. Washington’s First Victory over the British on a Battlefield (Trenton was fought against the Hessians just 8 days before on December 26, 1776)
  3. US Marines suffer their first battlefield death at the Battle of Princeton. 3 companies of marines came with Washington from Philadelphia, including one African American Marine named Orange.
  4. A brilliant daring night march of 18 miles by Washington’s army around the flank of a larger British army which was positioned just yards from his front lines to attack its rear. By marching his army around the flank of the British army he avoided almost assured destruction by the British army at Trenton while demonstrating his ability to pick off British outposts and threaten British supplies and communications. His victory ultimately leads to the liberation of New Jersey.
  5. Washington’s leadership abilities and personal bravery are demonstrated by his rallying of two broken brigades and leading them back into battle and facing a British volley at 30 paces. Washington threatens a double envelopment of the main British force and drives them off the field.
  6. Washington threatens the British payroll 20 miles up the road from Princeton in New Brunswick and guarded by a mere 100 men. Washington places his own army between British army and their payroll which panics the British. 


I. British seizure of New York City and defeat of Washington’s army from June 1776 until November 16, 1776 with the capture of Fort Washington in Manhattan.

II. Washington’s retreat across New Jersey November 18 –December 7, 1776.

III. Washington retreats across the Delaware on December 7 and the British set up outposts in Trenton, Princeton, Washington has lost 90% of his army.

IV. First Battle of Trenton- December 26, 1776  Washington crosses the Delaware and seizes Trenton from the Hessians and retreats across the Delaware with prisoners V. Washington recrosses the Delaware and goes to Trenton Dec 30-31, 1776 to gather troops and invite attack by the British based in Princeton.

VI. The Second Battle of Trenton. January 2, 1777 British General Cornwallis gathers 8000 men at Princeton and launches attack towards Trenton down Route 206 and is met by American forces to retard the British so that Washington can set up defensive lines on the Assunpink Creek-January 2, 1777.

VII. Night of January 2-3rd 1777 Washington marches his army around the left flank of the Cornwallis’ army to the rear of the British army at Princeton. Washington’s army  has around 5600-5800 men. The British garrison at Princeton is estimated at 1500.

VIII Battle of Princeton on the morning of January 3, 1777