“What sad Havock will this dreadful War make . . . “

Here are the remaining entries for January 1777 from the journal of MARGARET HILL MORRIS.

3d—This Morning between 8 & 9 oClock we heard very distinctly, a heavy fireing of Cannon, the sound came from towards Trenton, about noon a Number of Soldiers, upwards of a thousand came into Town in great Confusion, with Baggage & some Cannon—From these Soldiers we learn there was a smart engagement Yesterday at Trenton, & that they left them engaged near Trenton Mill, but were not able to say which side was Victorious. They were again quarterd on the inhabitants, & we again exempt from the Cumber of having them lodged in our house—Several of those who lodged in Col Co [Colonel Cox] house last Week, returnd to Night, & askd for the key—which I gave them, About bed time I went in the next house to see if the fires were safe, & my heart was melted with Compassion to see such a number of my fellow Creatures lying like Swine on the floor fast aSleep, & many of them without even a Blanket to cover them. It seems very strange to me that such a Number shoud be allowd to come from the Camp at the very time of the engagement, & I shrewdly Suspect they have run away for they can give no account why they came, nor where they are to March next.

6th [actually the 4th]—the accounts hourly coming in are so Contradictory & various, that we know not wch to give credit to. We have heard our people have gaind another Victory, that the English are fleeing before them, some at Brunswick—some at Prince Town. . . . a Number of Sick & wounded brought into Town, calls upon us to extend a hand of Charity towards them—Several of my Soldiers left the next house, & returnd to the place from whence they came, upon my questioning them pritty close, I brought several to confess they had ran away, being scared at the heavy fireing on the 3d—There were several pritty innocent looking lads among them, & I simpathized with thier Mothers when I saw them preparing to return to the Army.

5th—. . . . We are told to day that Gen. [Hugh] Mercer is killd, & Mifflin wounded—What sad Havock will this dreadful War make in our Land. . .

9th. . . . We hear Washington has sent to buy up a Number of Stoves, from whence it is Conjectured he is going into Winter Quarters—The Weather very cold, more snow falling has almost filld the River with Ice & we expect it will be strong enough to Walk over in a day or two. . .

11th—the Weather very cold—& the River quite shut—I pity the poor Soldiers now on thier March, many of whom will probably lay out in the fields this cold Night—What cause have I for gratitude that I & my household are Shelterd from the Storm. [Margaret Hill Morris was living near Burlington which is located in the lower section of the map.]

In January, George Washington, with what was left of the Continental Army, set up winter quarters in Morristown, New Jersey. Morristown was a particularly good strategic location—defensible, protected by the Watchung Mountains, the Ramapo Hills, the Hudson Highlands, and swamplands to the east—from which Washington could monitor British activity in New York, the Hudson River, and Philadelphia as well as the surrounding area in New Jersey. After losses in the recent battles, the expiration of enlistments, and desertions, the army had shrunk to a new low. In order to reorganize, discipline was tightened and recruitment were was increased by the offer of cash bonuses and, for those who enlisted for the duration, a bounty of land to be claimed after the war. Washington also undertook a plan of mass inoculation against smallpox including not only the troops but also the civilian population. Washington and his forces remained in Morristown until May.

Source for quoted passages: In the Words of Women, pages 102-03. The map is from Morristown—A Military Capital of the American Revolution, by Melvin J. Weig, with assistance from Vera B. Craig, National Park Service Historical Handbook Series No. 7, Washington, DC, 1950, reprinted in 1961, page 5, online HERE.


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