The Forage War of 1777 Saw George Washington Launch Numerous Hit-and-Run Assaults on the British that Crippled the Army

History Unplugged Podcast

In late December 1776, the American War of Independence appeared to be on its last legs. General George Washington’s continental forces had been reduced to a shadow of their former strength, the British Army had chased them across the Delaware River into Pennsylvania, and enlistments for many of the rank and file would be up by month’s end. Desperate times call for desperate measures, however, and George Washington responded to this crisis with astonishing audacity. On Christmas night 1776, he recrossed the Delaware as a nor’easter churned up the coast, burying his small detachment under howling sheets of snow and ice. Undaunted, they attacked a Hessian brigade at Trenton, New Jersey, taking the German auxiliaries by complete surprise. Then, only three days later, Washington struck again, crossing the Delaware, slipping away from the British at Trenton, and attacking the Redcoats at Princeton—to their utter astonishment. The British, now back on their heels, retreated toward New Brunswick as Washington’s reinvigorated force followed them north into Jersey. Over the next eight months, Washington’s continentals and the state militias of New Jersey would go head-to-head with the British in a multitude of small-scale actions and large-scale battles, eventually forcing the British to flee New Jersey by sea. In this narrative of the American War of Independence, today’s guest Jim Stempel, author of “The Enemy Harassed: Washington’s New Jersey Campaign of 1777” brings to life one of the most violent, courageous, yet virtually forgotten periods of the Revolutionary War.

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