Stories of Great Americans for Little Americans by Edward Eggleston

How Washington Got Out of a Trap

AFTER the battle of Trenton, Washington went back across the Delaware River. He had not men enough to fight the whole British army.

But the Americans were glad when they heard [64] that he had beaten the Hessians. They sent him more soldiers. Then he went back across the river to Trenton again.

There was a British general named Cornwallis. He marched to Trenton. He fought against Washington. Cornwallis had more men than Washington had. Night came, and they could not see to fight. There was a little creek between the two armies.

Washington had not boats enough to carry his men across the river. Cornwallis was sure to beat him if they should fight a battle the next morning.

Cornwallis said, "I will catch the fox in the morning."

He called Washington a fox. He thought he had him in a trap. Cornwallis sent for some more soldiers to come from Princeton in the morning. He wanted them to help him catch the fox.

But foxes sometimes get out of traps.

When it was dark, Washington had all his camp fires lighted. He put men to digging where the British could hear them. He made Cornwallis think that he was throwing up banks of earth and getting ready to fight in the morning.

But Washington did not stay in Trenton. He did not wish to be caught like a fox in a trap. He could not get across the river. But he knew a road that went round the place where Cornwallis and his [65] army were. He took that road and got behind the British army.

It was just like John waiting to catch James. James is in the house. John is waiting at the front door to catch James when he comes out. But James slips out by the back way. John hears him call "Hello!" James has gone round behind him and got away.

Washington went out of Trenton in the darkness. You might say that he marched out by the back door. He left Cornwallis watching the front door. The Americans went away quietly. They left a few men to keep up the fires, and make a noise like digging. Before morning these slipped away too.


[Illustration]

When morning came, Cornwallis went to catch his fox. But the fox was not there.

[66] He looked for the Americans. There was the place where they had been digging. Their camp fires were still burning. But where had they gone?

Cornwallis thought that Washington had crossed the river by some means. But soon he heard guns firing away back toward Princeton. He thought that it must be thunder. But he found that it was a battle. Then he knew that Washington had gone to Princeton.

Washington had marched all night. When he got to Princeton, he met the British coming out to go to Trenton. They were going to help Cornwallis to catch Washington. But Washington had come to Princeton to catch them. He had a hard fight with the British at Princeton. But at last he beat them.

When Cornwallis knew that the Americans had gone to Princeton, he hurried there to help his men. But it was too late. Washington had beaten the British at Princeton, and had gone on into the hills, where he was safe.

The fox had got out of the trap.


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