The Battle of Princeton was a battle of the American Revolutionary War, fought near Princeton, New Jersey on January 3, 1777, and ending in a small victory for the Colonials. General Lord Cornwallis had left 1,400 British troops under the command of Lieutenant Colonel Charles Mawhood in Princeton. Following a surprise attack at Trenton early in the morning of December 26, 1776, General George Washington of the Continental Army decided to attack the British in New Jersey before entering the winter quarters. On December 30, he crossed the Delaware River back into New Jersey. His troops followed on January 3, 1777. Washington advanced to Princeton by a back road, where he pushed back a smaller British force but had to retreat before Cornwallis arrived with reinforcements. The battles of Trenton and Princeton were a boost to the morale of the patriot cause, leading many recruits to join the Continental Army in the spring.
After defeating the Hessians at the Battle of Trenton on the morning of December 26, 1776, Washington withdrew back to Pennsylvania. He subsequently decided to attack the British forces before going into winter quarters.