Battle of Trenton | American Revolution War Song

About the author

Frank Moore
Frank Moore

Frank Moore was a journalist and Revolutionary historian. He published a number of books on the American Revolution during his career in the mid-19th century, including Songs and Ballads of the American Revolution, Diary of the American Revolution and The Patriot Preachers of the American Revolution.

Numerous songs, odes, epigrams and pasquinades, commemorating this battle, appeared during the war. We have several loyal productions upon this subject; but they are too profane and corrupt for publication at the present time. The author of the one subjoined is unknown. The Earl Dorset’s lyric “Fire of Love,” which was very popular at the period of the Revolution, is, probably, the song upon which this was modelled.

Battle of Trenton1

ON Christmas day in seventy-six,
Our ragged troops with bayonets fix’d,
For Trenton marched away.
The Delaware see ! the boats below !
The light obscured by hail and snow !
But no signs of dismay.

Our object was the Hessian band,
That dared invade fair freedom’s land,
And quarter in that place.
Great Washington he led us on,
Whose streaming flag, in storm or sun,
Had never known disgrace.

In silent march we pass’d the night,
Each soldier panting for the fight,
Though quite benumb’d with frost.
Greene, on the left, at six began,
The right was led by Sullivan,
Who ne’er a moment lost.

Their pickets storm’d, the alarm was spread,
That rebels risen from the dead
Were marching into town.
Some scamper’d here, some scamper’d there,2
And some for action did prepare;
But soon their arms laid down.

Twelve hundred servile miscreants,
With all their colors,3 guns, and tents,
Were trophies of the day.
The frolic o’er, the bright canteen,
In centre, front, and rear was seen
Driving fatigue away.

Now, brothers of the patriot bands,
Let’s sing deliverance from the hands
Of arbitrary sway.
And as our life is but a span,

Let’s touch the tankard while we can,
In memory of that day.

  1. Battle of Trenton. Curiosities of American Literature, by Rufus W. Griswold.
  2. Some scamper’d there. “It is said some Hessian officers and other mercenaries, were greatly disturbed one morning, at Trenton, when they waked up and found rebels knocking in their doors.”
  3. With all their colors. “On the Hessian standards taken at Trenton, were the words: ‘Nescit Pericula,’ – a fearlessness of danger, – which was not displayed in the battle where the standards were surrendered, and which hath drawn on the timid Hessian, and his vaunting motto, the following epigram:”The man who submits without striking a blow,
    May be said, in a sense, no danger to know:
    I pray then, what harm, by the humble submission,
    At Trenton was done by the standard of Hessian? “‘
    – N. H. Gazette.

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