TEMECULA – Our American fight for freedom did not come easy. In November 1776 – 247 years ago – George Washington was feeling the weight of the process. Just as many of us take on daunting projects or endure overwhelming odds, so, too, did Washington.
The British continually forced retreat and had won four straight battles over the Americans. Down to 3,000 fighting men, Washington wrote to Congress: "The situation of our affairs is critical and truly alarming." He further wrote Dec. 20: "Ten days more will put an end to the existence of our army."
The Americans were hanging on by their fingernails. It reminds people of the poster where a cat is suspended from a branch, and the saying "Hang In There, Baby" is written at the bottom of the poster. Washington's army was hanging on even though they were "going as long as two days with no food and tying rags to their feet in lieu of having shoes." (A Kids' Guide to the American Revolution by Kathleen Krull, 2018) This situation was hanging by a thread, but Washington pushed forward with another plan.
Having crossed the Delaware River in winter – in retreat – and establishing a camp in Pennsylvania, his sights were set on the New Jersey fort at Trenton. He had received key information from one of his spies, and he wrote "Victory or Death." Washington's army now totaled 2,400 soldiers as some were forced to stay behind at the crossing. "An officer wrote in his diary: "I have never seen Washington so determined as he is now. ...Calm and collected." (Krull, page 138)
The information that spurred Washington into action was that the 1,800 German soldiers who were guarding the fort for the British had stopped patrolling due to the freezing weather and were snug inside the fort. Washington's men surrounded the fort and the warm Germans inside at dawn Dec. 26.
The Americans and their cannons left nowhere for those within the fort to go even though some tried to sneak into nearby houses; patriot women met them with their rifles aimed and firing. British General Cornwallis said, "We may destroy all the men in America, and we shall still have all we can do to defeat the women."
The Battle of Trenton was a quick victory for the Americans. All the enemy leaders were shot, and their army surrendered. Part of the spoils of war were the enemy's provisions of weapons, lots of food, and much needed boots. A week later – with troop morale boosted and stomachs full - Washington and his soldiers won the Battle of Princeton, New Jersey.
Patriot William Hall was born in Pennsylvania, and enlisted near the beginning of the Revolutionary War in 1775. He served first in Captain Long's Company of the 5th Pennsylvania Regiment, then, re-enlisting in 1778, he served under Captain Searingen.
Hall's wartime experiences included fighting in the battles of Bunker Hill, White Plains, Fort Washington, Fort Lee, Fort Trenton and Brandywine. There is no doubt that he was one of the 2,400 who crossed the Delaware River and surrounded the Fort at Trenton. He served until 1781, of which part of his time was spent at Valley Forge.
Hall married a young lady named Sarah in the spring of 1779 in Pennsylvania, and they became the parents of 10 children beginning in 1781. The last child was born in 1805. Hall and family moved west to Kentucky, and a Revolutionary War Plaque at the Court House in Sterling, Montgomery County, includes his name. He died at the age of 95 a "War Pensioner" in Jefferson County, Indiana.
This month, Luiseño Chapter, National Society Daughters of the American Revolution, in collaboration with America250 honors William Hall for his service. A teenager when he first joined the fight, he willingly subjected himself, he endured and he hung on!
The Luiseño Chapter meets the fourth Tuesday of each month at the Assistance League in Temecula. The focus of the chapter is Patriotism, Historic Preservation, and Education. All are encouraged to visit the public Facebook page "Luiseño Chapter DAR - Temecula Valley, CA" for more information. Next month another Revolutionary War Patriot will be the focus of Luiseño's America250 Committee.
Submitted by Luiseño Chapter, Daughters of the American Revolution.