History of the United States of America, from the Discovery of the Continent - Vol. 5

By George Bancroft | Go to book overview

CHAPTER VIII.
ASSANPINK AJSTD PRINCETON.
DECEMBER 26, 1776–JANUARY 1777.

AFTER snatching refreshments from the captured stores, the victorious troops, worn out by cold, rain, snow, and storm, the charge of nearly a thousand prisoners, and the want of sleep, set off again in sleet driven by a north-east wind, and, passing another terrible night at the ferry, recrossed the Delaware. But Stirling and one half of the soldiers were disabled, and two men were frozen to death.

Up to this time congress had left on their journals the suggestion that a reunion with Great Britain might be the consequence of a delay in France to declare in their favor; at Baltimore, before the victory at Trenton was known, it was voted to “assure foreign courts that the congress and people of America are determined to maintain their independence at all events.” Treaties of commerce were to be offered to Prussia, to Vienna, and to Tuscany; their intervention was invoked to prevent Russian or German troops from serving against the United States, and a sketch was drawn for an offensive alliance with France and Spain against Great Britain.

The independence which the nation pledged its faith to other countries to maintain could be secured only through the army. On the twenty-sixth of December the urgent letters of Washington and Greene were read in congress, and referred to Riehard Henry Lee, Wilson, and Samuel Adams; and, on the next day, “congress having maturely considered the present crisis, and having perfect reliance on the wisdom, vigor, and uprightness of General Washington,” resolved that, in addition to

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