Trenton And Its Battle Monument
( Originally Published 1900 )
Trenton, the capital of New Jersey, is thirty miles from Philadelphia, a prosperous city with seventy thousand people. The first and most lasting impression many visitors get of it is of the deep rift cut into the clays and gravels of the southern part of the town, to let the Pennsylvania Railroad go through. Here, as everywhere, are displayed the lavish de-posits of the " Trenton gravel" as the railway passes under the streets, and even under the Delaware and Raritan Canal, to its depressed station alongside Assunpink Creek of Revolutionary memory, the chief part of the city spreading far to the northward. Trenton is as old as Philadelphia, its reputed founder being Mahlon Stacy, who came up from Burlington Friends Meeting, while the settlement was named for William Trent, an early Jersey law-maker. The Trenton potteries are its chief industry, established by a colony of Staffordshire potters from England, attracted by its prolific clay deposits ; and the conical kilns, which turn out a product worth five or six mil-lions of dollars annually, are scattered at random over the place. Their china ware has been advanced to a high stage of perfection, and displays exquisite decoration. The Trenton cracker factories are also famous. The finest building is the State House, as the Capitol is called, the Delaware River's swift cur-rent bubbling over rocks and among grassy islands out in front of the grounds. At Broad and Clinton Streets, the intersection of two of the chief high-ways, mounted as an ornament upon a drinking-fountain, is the famous " Swamp Angel" cannon, brought from Charleston harbor after the Civil War. This was one of the earliest heavy guns made, plain and rather uncouth-looking, about ten feet long, and rudely constructed in contrast with the elongated and tapering rifled cannon of to-day, and it rests upon a conical pile of brownstone. It was the most noted gun of the Civil War, an eight-inch Parrott rifle, or two-hundred-pounder, and, when fired, carried a one-hundred-and-fifty-pound projectile seven thou-sand yards from a battery on Morris Island into the city of Charleston, which was then regarded as a prodigious achievement. It is a muzzle-loader, weighing about eight tons, and burst after firing thirty-six rounds at Charleston, in August, 1863, the fracture being plainly seen around the breech.
Trenton's great historical feature is the Revolutionary battlefield, now completely built upon. Washington, having crossed the Delaware on Christmas night, in the early morning of December 26, 1776, marched down to Trenton, and surprised and defeated the Hessians under Rahl, who were encamped north of Assunpink Creek. A fine battle-monument stands in a small park adjoining Warren Street, at the point where Washington's army, coming into town from the north, first engaged the enemy. Here Alexander Hamilton, then Captain of the New York State Company of Artillery, opened fire from his battery on the Hessians, who fled through the town, along Warren, then called King Street. The monument is a fluted Roman-Doric column, rising one hundred and thirty-five feet, surmounted by a statue of Washington, representing him standing, field-glass in hand, surveying the flying Hessians, his right arm pointing down Warren Street. The elevated top of this monument gives a grand view over the surrounding country, the course of the Delaware being traced for miles. The subsequent fortnight's campaign ending in the battle of Princeton revived the drooping spirits of the Americans, and was said by as accomplished a soldier as Frederick the Great to be among "the most brilliant in the annals of military achievements." Trenton is at the head of tidewater on the Delaware, the stream coming down rapids, known as the "Falls." On the Pennsylvania side is Morrisville, called after Robert Morris, who lived there during the Revolution. His estate subsequently became the home of the famous French General Jean Victor Moreau, the victor at Hohenlinden, who was exiled by Napoleon in 1804. He returned to Europe afterwards at the invitation of the Czar Alexander, and devised for him a plan for invading France. They were both at the battle of Dresden in 1813, and were consulting about a certain manoeuvre when a cannon ball from Napoleon's Guard broke both Moreau's legs, and he died five days afterwards.