55. Giving History A Hand

Reminder: If you’re reading this in your email, you have to click on the link at the bottom or go to dpauthor.com and click on the Speaking of Which tab in order to view the actual blog post with the featured image.

Also please note: I know I indicated in the last post that the next one would complement it by outlining the fate of various British and Hessian officers after the Revolutionary War. However, as you can see, I have taken the liberty (this is a Rev War blog, after all) of deferring the post on those officers until next time. Today’s offering is something that’s near and dear to my heart and—given the focus of my second book, The Road to Assunpink Creek—my keyboard.

Giving Revolutionary history a hand and then some is exactly what Thomas Black, a senior at Notre Dame High School in Lawrence Township, NJ—Maidenhead at the time of the War for Independence—recently did. For his Eagle Scout project, Thomas constructed a marker (seen above) to memorialize the delaying action waged by American skirmishers under Colonel Edward Hand against a far larger force of British and Hessian troops advancing from Princeton to Trenton on January 2, 1777—and especially the clash that occurred adjacent to the parking lot at Notre Dame.

The new marker is far more elaborate and informative than the preexisting tiny blue marker by Lawrenceville Road (Route 206) in front of the school. Thomas’s creation stands near Shabakunk Creek, which runs through the campus and was the scene of perhaps the most intense fighting between Hand’s men and His Majesty’s troops, the latter commanded by Lieutenant General Charles Earl Cornwallis. It is quite possible that the efforts of those unsung Patriot combatants saved George Washington’s army from destruction that day by preventing Cornwallis’s formidable column from arriving in Trenton until it was too dark to launch a full-scale assault on the rebel lines positioned behind Assunpink Creek on the southern edge of town.

Thomas’s effort was inspired by his history teacher John McQuarrie, who recently retired after more than two decades at Notre Dame. John (who BTW is a subscriber to this blog) was kind enough to share a link to additional information about this much-needed tribute to the heroic resistance by Edward Hand’s thousand-man detachment, who were outnumbered more than six-to-one by their adversary. Later that day—in the immediate aftermath of Hand’s fighting withdrawal—Washington’s troops held off the enemy thrust at the Battle of Assunpink Creek, or Second Battle of Trenton. The next morning, they counterattacked at Princeton in the capstone engagement of the “Ten Crucial Days” winter campaign of 1776-1777, which reversed the military momentum previously enjoyed by the Crown’s forces.

So kudos to Thomas and John. They deserve a hand and Hand deserves them. I hope what they’ve done is, well, a sign of the times. (Yes, I know, they worked hand in hand.)

And speaking of same, for anyone who may be interested, I will be discussing the significance of the events referenced above at the annual meeting of the Lawrence Historical Society on February 26 at the Lawrence Headquarters Branch of the Mercer County Library, 2751 Brunswick Pike, Lawrenceville, NJ (at the corner of Brunswick Pike and Darrah Lane). The talk will be based on The Road to Assunpink Creek. The meeting, which is open to members and nonmembers, is scheduled to begin at 1 pmAdmission is free but registration is requested—and here’s the link to register. (I hope to bring copies of my four books to the event.)