Over the past weekend, Emerging Revolutionary War historians led a bus tour of the battlefields of Trenton and Princeton. Based on Mark Maloy’s book, Victory or Death, the tour took participants throughout Pennsylvania and New Jersey following in the footsteps of George Washington’s army. Led by Mark Maloy and Billy Griffith, attendees were treated first to a Friday night lecture that explained the American defeats in the summer of 1776 that put Washington and his army in a dire position. That night guests were given tour packets and free tee shirts provided by our friends at Americana Corner. People were also able to purchase books from the Emerging Revolutionary War series, as all the authors were in attendance.
On Saturday, guests from as far as Alabama, Maine, and Ohio piled into a sold out 56 passenger bus. First we visited Washington’s headquarters from early December 1776 at Summerseat in Morrisville, Pennsylvania before driving by Washington’s headquarters where he hatched the plan to attack Trenton. We then drove by Nathanael Greene’s headquarters where Washington informed his commanders at a council of war about the plan. We visited the Thompson-Neely House and the nearby soldiers’ graves where numerous unknown patriots lie buried. Our last stop before lunch was the location location where Washington crossed the Delaware River at McConkey’s Ferry on Christmas night.
After a picnic lunch, the group crossed the Delaware themselves and traveled the same path the patriots took to Trenton. As we arrived in downtown Trenton a sudden and severe storm blew through, which added a flash of drama to an already dramatic story. The attendees braved the gusty winds and raindrops to listen about how the battle played out from the location of Col. Henry Knox’s artillery and walk down the streets those brave men fought on almost 250 years ago.
After looking at the site of some of the heaviest fighting on December 26, 1776, the group traveled down to the banks of the Assunpink Creek. There we learned about the intervening time between December 26, 1776 and January 2, 1777 and the Battle of Assunpink Creek that occurred on that day. After looking at a statue to George Washington, we went and saw the house Washington held a council of war in and made one of the boldest decisions of the war: to disengage the British and make an overnight 12 mile march to strike the British rearguard at Princeton.
We then loaded on the bus and traveled most of the route of Washington’s army and made it back to our hotel. After a fun evening of enjoying the company of others, we were ready for our final day of touring.
On Sunday, the day was cool and clear. We traveled to Princeton Battlefield State Park. Here we learned about the meeting engagement that occurred on the morning of January 3, 1777. We learned how Washington rallied his breaking troops and led a charge against the British regulars. Following in the footsteps of the patriots from 1777, we walked across the field they did and saw the Mercer oak and learned of the brutal hand to hand combat that occurred in that area. We then walked to the site of a mass grave of British and American troops and listened to how the battle and campaign ended.
Afterwards we were treated to a look inside the Thomas Clarke House, where General Hugh Mercer died, and then traveled to our final stop. At the Princeton Battle Monument, we closed out the tour focusing on how the campaign has been remembered over the years and the importance of keeping those memories alive for future generations.
The tour was an outstanding success with many positive reactions and many signups for next year. Next year we are planning a tour of Monmouth battlefield and Valley Forge. Emerging Revolutionary War loves connecting the stories from history to the places where they occurred. If you would like to have a fun, engaging, and unique experience learning about the Revolutionary War, sign up today, as we expect it will sell out again!