At the end of 1776, the American cause in the Revolutionary War looked to be finished. George Washington’s Continental Army had suffered a series of disastrous defeats as the British drove them out of New York and across New Jersey. Many of Washington’s troops had drifted away as their enlistments ended, and few replacements were stepping forward after the disasters of the recent campaign. Washington reversed his poor fortunes and restored the morale of the cause with a series of small victories against British detachments at Trenton and Princeton, New Jersey. To do so, he had to execute his famous crossing of the Delaware (no, he probably was not standing up in the boat). Washington landed at Johnson’s Ferry on the New Jersey side of the river, at the site now preserved as Washington Crossing State Park. From Johnson’s Ferry, Washington marched to Trenton where he defeated Hessian troops in a surprise attack on Christmas Day. Washington followed up with victories in the Second Battle of Trenton on January 2, 1777, and the Battle of Princeton on January 3, 1777. As a bonus. Washington Crossing State Park is also well known for its trails and wildlife habitat. A wide variety of migrating birds use the stream and ravine as a resting place and for nesting. Many bird species also winter in the park.
The name Thomas Alva Edison is practically synonomous with “inventor.” For forty years, Edison worked in a laboratory in West Orange, New Jersey, where he and his research colleagues created the motion picture camera, vastly improved phonographs, sound recordings, silent and sound movies and the nickel-iron alkaline electric storage battery. Edison National Historic Site Edison’s research laboratory and his home, Glenmont. Among many other attractions, the site now features an exciting new audio preservation studio that will make it possible to transfer many of rarest and fragile historic sound recordings at the Edison laboratory from their original formats to a modern, archival-quality audio format.
In many ways, George Washington was not a great battlefield general. He lost more battles than he won, and he had a bad habit of allowing his army to be outflanked in the field. In two of his victories, at Trenton and Princeton, he was fortunate to be able to fight detachments that his own meager forces outnumbered. Nevertheless, Washington caught British regulars by surprise at the Battle of Princeton and inflicted a clear defeat on them. The victory at Princeton, along with the triumph at Trenton just a few days earlier, restored the morale of the patriot cause at the end of an otherwise disastrous campaign in which Wshington had been driven from New York and the Continental Army had nearly been destroyed. The State of New Jersey preserves part of the battlefield as the Princeton Battlefield State Park. The park includes the famous Mercer Oak, which once stood in the middle of the battlefield near the spot where General Hugh Mercer fell. It also preserves the Clarke House, where General Mercer died nine days after the battle. The house contains period furniture and Revolutionary War exhibits. The Princeton Battle Monument, designed by sculptor Frederick MacMonnies, is located at Stockton Street and Bayard Street in the town of Princeton.