Victory or Death: General Washington at Trenton & Princeton
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Victory or Death: General Washington at Trenton & Princeton

General Washington at the Battles of Trenton and Princeton
4.5 (35 ratings)
Instead of using a simple lifetime average, Udemy calculates a course's star rating by considering a number of different factors such as the number of ratings, the age of ratings, and the likelihood of fraudulent ratings.
3,236 students enrolled
Created by Gerald Franz
Last updated 8/2015
Price: Free
  • 2 hours on-demand video
  • Full lifetime access
  • Access on mobile and TV
  • Certificate of Completion
What Will I Learn?
  • By the end of this course, you will be able to intelligently discuss the background and course of the Battles of Trenton and Princeton, especially concerning the actions of General George Washington.
  • In this course, you will learn about the terrible and bleak condition of the American troops in 1776, and how it appeared to most people that the Revolution was almost over.
  • In this course, you will grasp Washington's plans to achieve victory at both the towns of Trenton and Princeton.
  • In this course, you will come to appreciate the sacrifices of so many who contributed to the American victories at Trenton and Princeton.
View Curriculum
  • To take this course, persons need to have a computer and either speakers or headphones for the video segments.

This short course will present two pivotal battles in the American Revolution, the Battles of Trenton and Princeton. These battles helped revive the cause for those fighting against England for independence. There are 13 video lectures, totaling approximately 2 hours. The lectures include over 270 Powerpoint slides to help visualize the material. There are also links to read or listen to "The American Crisis", written by Thomas Paine, and a bibliography in APA format. There are also weekly student notes and self-check quizzes, and a final crossword puzzle.

This course is for all adults, high school and above, and it should appeal to anyone who loves a good dramatic account in history, and to those who appreciate the unexpected victories of those perceived as 'underdogs'.

Who is the target audience?
  • This course is suitable for all persons, high school age and up.
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Curriculum For This Course
13 Lectures
4 Lectures 35:42

This first lecture will provide an introduction to the topic and to the lecture outline. The course will look at the background information from 1775 and 1776, then move to the two battles of Trenton and Princeton. The course will also consider the results and the legacy of these two events. This lecture will also introduce four important historical sources used in this study.

Introduction to the Course

It is very important to understand the Revolutionary War events of 1776 when approaching the subject of the battles of Trenton and Princeton. This lecture will provide a broad overview of the trajectory of the War through 1776 to the time when Washington posted his men on the Pennsylvania side of the Delaware River. The lecture will discuss the British commanders and their general strategy as well.


The Tory, or pro-British movement, was growing stronger in 1776 due to the horrific battlefield losses by the Americans. However, there were still many strong supporters of the patriot cause, and this lecture will present three persons within Washington's army that illustrate this.

Three Patriot Examples With Washington

This lecture presents two topics. First, and unfortunately for General Washington, there were a few close officers who had lost their confidence in his leadership. Two of them were actively undermining his position. Second, this lecture presents the reasons why the British entered their Winter quarters, intending to finish the war early in the Spring of 1777.

Winter Quarters
The Battle of Trenton
5 Lectures 41:50

This lecture will cover two topics. First, I will describe the British positions north and east of the American position, and across the Delaware River. Second, I will provide information concerning the German mercenaries (Hessians) that the British hired to help in the war. I will also quote from a contemporary source that illustrates how the Hessians took over private homes for room and board.

The British Lines Along the Delaware

In this lecture, I will describe Washington's four-part plan concerning the attempt to capture Trenton from the Hessians. The plan involved luring away other Hessians in the area, so they could not come to the aid of the Hessians in Trenton. The plan also called for troops to block the southern exit from Trenton in order to prevent any from escaping. Last, the main attack involved troops hitting the town from two different angles. Hopefully, the element of surprise would be maintained, and hopefully all of the troops would be able to cross the ice-filled Delaware River.

The Trenton Plan

In this lecture, I will share the story of the opening phases of the Trenton plan, namely the strategy to lure the Hessians away from the Trenton area. And were the troops successful in closing that back door of Trenton to keep any Hessians from escaping? Also in this lecture, we will look at the work of both British and American spies, who were busy on the eve of the Battle of Trenton.

On the Eve of Battle

In this lecture, we will follow the main body of the American troops as they attempt to secretly cross the Delaware River during a snowstorm, and to march overnight to the town of Trenton by daybreak. There were many obstacles, and Washington was very concerned about maintaining the element of surprise, since the Hessians were a formidable opponent. Some of the well-known paintings of Washington's crossing of the Delaware are also presented.

Journey to Trenton

This lecture will describe the Battle of Trenton, as the Americans hit the town from two angles, with infantry and artillery. The Hessians bravely responded, though they were extremely disadvantaged because they did not have time to adequately organize their resistance. This battle was a crucial victory for the Americans.

The Battle of Trenton
The Battle of Princeton
2 Lectures 19:03

This lecture summarizes two topics. First, Washington pleaded with those troops whose enlistments expired on December 31, 1776, asking that they stay with the Army for another month. He could only offer at ten dollar bonus. He needed these troops for another offensive that he was planning. Second, the lecture will describe how General Cornwallis brought a large British and German force down to attack Washington in retaliation for the Trenton victory. Washington must figure a way to avoid a major defeat, as the opposing forces far outnumber him.

The British Counterattack at Trenton

In this lecture, I will relate how General Washington evaded Cornwallis' army and attacked the town of Princeton north of Trenton. The weather was a great help to Washington, both in his night march around Cornwallis, and his surprise attack at Princeton the next morning. The Battle of Princeton was a great victory for the Americans, but it began badly when some British troops outside of Princeton attacked some American units. After the battle, Washington was able to slip away from Cornwallis' army that was attempting to catch the Americans.

The Battle of Princeton
Results and Legacy
2 Lectures 22:16

This lecture summarizes the many results from the American victories at Trenton and Princeton. These include the anger and frustration of the American Tories, as well as the British and Hessian troops in the colonies, and the politicians and people of England. The victories were a tremendous encouragement to those supporting the revolution, and some who had recently leaned toward the Tories, now returned to support the patriot cause. The victories, along with Thomas Paine's "The American Crisis", helped bolster enlistments into the Continental Army as well. Last, the military actions begun at Trenton and Princeton continued on the part of smaller militia units in New Jersey in early 1777 in what is called the "Forage Wars".


In this postscript, I look at the main persons covered in this course, focusing upon their lives after the Battles of Trenton and Princeton. Where did they go from there? This includes the life and legacy of General George Washington, and the legacy of the Battles of Trenton and Princeton.

About the Instructor
Gerald Franz
4.6 Average rating
436 Reviews
12,000 Students
9 Courses
Professor of history

Dr. Franz has been teaching history for 32 years in various colleges, and sometimes to high school students. He has written a number of historical dramas for his history students, and after one season's performance, he received a letter of commendation from former president George Bush, Sr. for making history alive to students today. He has also taken history students on a number of field trips to various important historical locations. He hopes to continue putting short history courses on Udemy in order to share his favorite historical events. He currently teaches many online history courses for various universities, along with various live classes in his area.

He has been married for over 33 years to Wendy, and they have a son and daughter, both adults. They also have a few cats and a big German Shepherd dog. In their spare time, they love to walk, jog, swim, and ride their bikes.