Washington’s victory at the Battle of Trenton

William Faden, PLAN OF THE OPERATIONS OF GENERAL WASHINGTON, against THE KINGS TROOPS IN NEW JERSEY from the 26th of December 1776, to the 3d. January 1777.  London, April 15, 1777.
Engraving, 11 ¼”h x 15 ¼”w plus generous margins, spot color

The only contemporary plan of one of General Washington’s masterstrokes, the crossing of the Delaware to attack the British at the Battle of Trenton and the follow-up success at Princeton.

By December 1776, the American Army was in desperate straits. Driven from New York by the British the previous September then pursued across New Jersey, Washington had taken refuge in Pennsylvania on the west bank of the Delaware. The Americans seemed on the verge of a final defeat, but Washington’s solution was to mount a brilliant counterattack. On Christmas Eve, when the British least expected it, he crossed the Delaware and captured the Hessian post at Trenton. The following week he crossed the river again and struck General Howe outside of Princeton. Both attacks yielded victories that sustained American morale at one of the low points of the Revolution.

Published just months after the battles, William Faden’s battle plan depicts a roughly 400 square-mile area of New Jersey and northern Pennsylvania. It documents key events of the operations around Trenton and Princeton, including the crossing of the Delaware on December 25th, the attack on Col. Rall’s force at Trenton on the 26th, Cornwallis’ rush south from Fort Lee, and Washington’s end-around to hit Cornwallis’ flank at Princeton on January 2nd and 3rd.   Tables at lower left and right summarize British losses in the two encounters.

Faden’s plan appeared only three months after the battles and probably just a few weeks after the news reached London. It is hard to overstate the impact it must have had on the British elite, who after the capture of New York had anticipated a swift and successful conclusion to the war.

Nebenzahl, Atlas of the American Revolution, #15; Nebenzahl, Printed Battle Plans, #119; Schwartz & Ehrenberg, Mapping of America, pp. 189-190; Stevens & Tree, “Comparative Cartography,” #36a.


Old folds (probably as issued), reinstatement to yellows indicating American troop movements