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Even with luck, surprise, and numbers on our side, I fear we still won’t win this battle at Trenton, for I’ve lost my faith in this revolution after the skirmishes we’ve lost to Britain. The blood I’ve seen and the screams I’ve heard haunt me, though I trudge on behind General George Washington, hoping and praying we will finally win. Our spirits have been lost, just like the people who have died to fight for the country that might not even be born. I remember kissing my mother good-bye and telling her I need to fight for freedom and protect her. She called me her little patriot, and I rode away into the night following General Washington to the camp.
That was a few months ago, and even though the revolution has barely begun, I feel like I’ve made the wrong choice. We’ve already lost New York to the British, many soldiers have deserted us, and some of us are ill. I’ve lost all heart to fight and many of the other soldiers have too.
December 25, 1776- I feel the wind blowing against my body pushing me forward as if to say, “Go, it is your time to win.”
But on the other hand, the ice and snow burns our feet and stings our side as if to say, “It is too dangerous, go back.”
Washington doesn’t seem fazed by the weather, so we have to keep pressing on ahead. My body aches from the constant marching, and my feet were frozen with only rags, no shoes to cover them. I’m hollow, with no food or soul to fill me up.
We get to the Delaware River, which was filled with ice and snow.
“How are we to get across without dying?” I asked.
“Some of these soldiers are only boys,” someone else called out.
Instead of answering my question George Washington recited “These are the times that try men's souls. The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of their country; but he that stands it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman. Tyranny, like hell, is not easily conquered; yet we have this consolation with us, that the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph.” This was from Thomas Paine’s “the Crisis.”
And with that we got into the boats and started rowing, until we got to the other side at 3:00 am. My hands were red and burning from the cold, but I was lucky because, as I soon found out, 2 men had died from freezing.
I turned around and saw that the other generals who were with Washington were on the other side and weren’t coming over. General Washington was going to have to lead all of us, 2,400 men, in the fight.
Washington told us the night before that the group we were attacking, the Hessians, a German troop of about 1,200, was going to be celebrating Christmas, so we would have the element of surprise.
When everyone who was going to go to Trenton got to the other side, we started to march for 19 miles. The snow was piercing our eyes and ice digging into our uncovered feet.
Slowly and sneakily, once we got close to the Hessian camp, in Trenton, New Jersey, we split up into 2 columns: one to attack from the north and the other from the south. We crept in as the sun began to rise on December 26, 1776 and attacked. Johann Von Rall and his Hessian troops, who fought for the British, were taken by surprise.
I soon found out my gun wouldn’t work, so I used the bayonet instead. It was a quick, furious fight that spilt a lot of blood. The blood was coming from the Germans and for once we weren’t the ones being slaughtered. My spirit lifted up and I did the best I could using my aching arms, cold hands and body to fight the Hessians.
“Stop,” Washington ordered and we did exactly what we were told. “We have won this battle. Johann Von Rall has given up his sword, now will someone please help Sir. Rall to his bed, for he is too weak to go on his own.”
I walked over to help. We carried him to his quarters and everyone left, but me.
“Why did you surrender?” I questioned him.
“Tell me, what is your name?” Johann asked.
“Samuel” I replied.
“Samuel, before I died I promised myself I would die with dignity,” Johann told me, then closed his eyes.
I backed away slowly; when I got out I saw we had 918 of their men captured, after 90 minutes of fighting. This brought hope back into me. Our troops only had small wounds, while the Germans had 100 men dead or wounded. Not many Germans could have escaped because Trenton was isolated and hard to get out of.
The war is turning, I believed, and we are going to win. Not only did the British lose people who fought for them, but we Americans have gained confidence.
If it took years to fight, I would do it. No matter what hardships I face, I’m going to be part of the revolution. And with that I re-enlisted into the Continental Army, just like many of the other soldiers did.
Soon we were going to fight again and I will be ready.
Mom, I thought before resting, your little patriot is going to be a man and fight for the freedom of every American.