This Day In U.S. History November 20, 1776 – Patriot Fort Lee falls to British and Hessian forces igniting the inspiration for “These are the times that try men’s souls”


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“These are the times that try men’s souls”

Thomas Paine

Thomas Paine


1776 – In the second year of the American Revolution, Patriot Fort Lee on the banks of the Hudson River, New Jersey falls to an invasion of British and Hessian Forces. The defeated and ragged Continental Army falls into a hasty retreat across the Hackensack River inspiring Thomas Paine famous words. A month later Washington and his poorly outfitted but courageous army make a bold, surprise attack on a Hessian regiment at Trenton New Jersey.

Source “The American Revolution Day By Day – Lighting Freedom’s Flame”



This Day In U.S. History November 20, 1776 – Struggle for Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness – The American Revolution: British forces land at the Palisades and then attack Fort Lee. The Continental Army starts to retreat across New Jersey.

The battle marked the successful invasion of New Jersey by British and Hessian forces and the subsequent general retreat of the Continental Army during the American Revolutionary War.


Patriot Peter Bourdette’s sixteen year-old son, also named Peter, provided assistance by direct use of the landing. During the week leading up to the evacuation of Fort Lee he rowed back and forth across the river gathering information for General Washington on the anticipated movements of the British forces. Well after dark on the night before the battle for New York at Fort Washington, George Washington was rowed from Burdett’s Landing to the middle of the Hudson River for a strategy session with his senior officers in charge of New York, who rowed to meet him. On November 16, 1776 George Washington witnessed the battle for New York from across the river on the bluff of Fort Lee, above Burdett’s Landing.


British warships trying to pass between Fort Lee and Fort Washington

British warships trying to pass between Fort Lee and Fort Washington


British invasion
Fort Lee was rendered defenseless after Continental Army troops holding Fort Washington were defeated and captured on November 16, 1776. The Royal Navy controlled the Hudson River. General William Howe ordered Charles Cornwallis to “clear the rebel troops from New Jersey without a major engagement, and to do it quickly before the weather changed.” The force included Hessian units commanded by Colonel Carl von Donop. The invasion of New Jersey began the night of November 19–20, when 5,000 British troops ferried across the Hudson on barges and began landing near New Dock Landing (present-day Alpine). George Washington and Nathanael Greene quickly ordered the evacuation of the fort on the morning of November 20, 1776.


American retreat
The soldiers then began a hasty retreat west, crossing the Hackensack River at New Bridge Landing. It was during Washington’s retreat (beginning along a road which is now Main Street) that Thomas Paine composed his pamphlet, “The American Crisis”, which began with the recognized phrase, “These are the times that try men’s souls”. Source Wikipedia


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Battle of Trenton
The Battle of Trenton took place on the morning of December 26, 1776, during the American Revolutionary War, after General George Washington’s crossing of the Delaware River north of Trenton, New Jersey. The hazardous crossing in adverse weather made it possible for Washington to lead the main body of the Continental Army against Hessian soldiers garrisoned at Trenton. After a brief battle, nearly the entire Hessian force was captured, with negligible losses to the Americans. The battle significantly boosted the Continental Army’s flagging morale, and inspired reenlistments. More at Wikipedia


Battle of Trenton, NJ, December 26, 1776

Battle of Trenton, NJ, December 26, 1776



Timeline of the American Revolution – From the French-Indian War 1754-1763 to the Signing of The U.S. Constitution 1788.


America remember and honor your history – it will give direction, purpose and security to your future.


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