Battles of New York City and New Jersey

As the American War for Independence began with the Battles of Lexington and Concord, George Washington rose to prominence once again as a type of war hero. Having already been involved in fighting the oppressive acts of the British politically (Washington spoke out against the 1765 Stamp Act and the Intolerable Acts of 1774, arguing against the unfair taxation by saying that Great Britain had "no...right to put their hands in my pocket without my consent"), Washington was chosen by the Second Continental Congress to become the Commander in Chief of the newly formed Continental Army. In addition to organizing the Continental Army and attempting to gather much needed munitions and supplies, Washington laid siege to the British-occupied city of Boston in 1775. Upon the capture of Boston in March 1776, the Continental Army then set up camp in New York City. Since both Boston and New York were large, prominent cities in colonial America, Washington assumed after the retreat of the British army from Boston that they would soon try to capture New York. Throughout the summer of 1776, Washington set up defensive positions along Long Island and in Manhattan, waiting for a British attack. Under the command of George Washington were Generals John Sullivan and Lord Stirling. Washington ordered his two generals to also set up defensive positions. However, Washington overlooked a pass known as Jamaica Pass to his army's rear. When the British attacked the Continental Army's defensive positions in New York on August 27, 1776, British General Howe led ten thousand troops through the Jamaica Pass and surrounded the colonial army. Washington quickly retreated across the East River, while General Sullivan fought a losing battle against Hessian troops (these were German mercenaries that were allies of the British) at his position, and General Stirling bravely held his ground at the Old Stone House, leading to General Stirling's eventual capture. As the day of fighting dragged on, the British General Howe eventually ordered his men to stop fighting and dig entrenchments around the colonial forces. General Washington took this break in the fighting to evacuate the remaining nine thousand colonial troops off of Long Island over the Delaware River.

Following the tragic loss of New York City, Washington led his fleeing army across New Jersey. Probably in order to rally a comeback of sorts and boost morale in both his troops and the Continental Congress, Washington decided to attack a camp on Hessian troops at Trenton, New Jersey on Christmas Day in 1776. Due to the element of surprise by the Continental Army and miscommunication within the Hessian ranks, the Hessians stood their ground within their camp instead of safely retreating. This led to a small, yet decisive victory for Washington's men. Using the momentum from the victory at Trenton, George Washington led his men to another win over British troops stationed at Princeton, New Jersey in January 1777.

The battles in New Jersey were highly effective in boosting morale within the Continental Army. Instead of settling into winter headquarters (as was a common military practice at this time in history), Washington instead forced the British to retreat from New Jersey and to call in reinforcements from the mother country. While the patriot army was infused with confidence over their defeat of the professional Hessian mercenaries and British regulars, the British troops and citizens were shocked that a "makeshift" colonial army could not only force the royal army to give up their winter quarters but also require them to call for additional troops from Great Britain. Needless to say, these victories also elevated George Washington in the eyes of his men and helped to mend his damaged reputation after the defeat at New York.