Private Journal of Margaret Morris--December 19th-Jan. 6th
Dec. 19th....A report prevails, that Gen. Putnam with 1000 men are on their march--this put all into motion at Holly. The Hessians retire to Black Horse. Not one gondola man ashore all this day; we may burn a candle all night and sleep secure.
Dec. 20th. A snow storm last night has almost stopped the navigation, and sent our guarda-costas out of our sight down the river; surely this will be a quiet day--methinks I will call for my work-basket....
Dec. 21st. More snow last night--no danger of gondolas now--more ambassadors gone out to-day to the Hessians.--not much to be expected from one of them. A great deal of talk in the neighbourhood about a neutral island; wish with great earnestness it may be allowed....W. D. comes at last--tells us all we expected to hear--pleases us by saying we shall have timely notice of their coming--gives a hint that the feeble and defenceless will find safety and protection--rank ourselves among the number, having no man with us in the house. Determine not to be unprovided again, let them come or not, as the weather is now so cold provisions will keep good several days. We pity the poor fellows who were obliged to be out last night in the snow. Repeat our wishes that this may be a neutral island--quite sleepy--go to bed and burn a lamp all night--talk as loud as usual, and don't regard the creaking of the door--no gondola men listening about the bank. Before we retired to bed this evening, an attempt was made to teach the children to pronounce "vegates," (how do you do?) like a Dutchman. Our good neighbour a little concerned to think there is not one in the neighbourhood that will be able to interpret for us when the Hessians are quartered on us....
Dec. 24th. Several Hessians in town to-day. They went to Daniel Smith's and enquired for several articles in the shop which they offered to pay for; two were observed to be in liquor in the street; they went to the tavern, and calling for rum ordered the man to charge it to the king. We hear that two houses in the skirts of the town were broke open by the Hessians and pillaged. The gondolashave been lying down at Dunk's Ferry all this day. A pretty heavy fighting heard up the river to-day, but no account yet received of the occasion, or where it was.
Dec. 27th. A letter from Gen. Reed to his brother, informing him that Washington had had an engagement with the regulars, on the 25th, early in the morning, taking them by surprise; killed 50 and took 900 prisoners--the loss onour side not known, or if known, not suffered to the public. It seems this heavy loss to the regulars, was owing to the prevailing custom among the Hessians, of getting drunk on the eve of that great day which brought peace on earth, and good will to men--but oh ! how unlike Christians is the manner in which they celebrate it....This evening, the 27th, about 3000 of the Pennsylvania militia and other troops landed in the neck, and marched into twon with artillery, baggage, &c., and are quartered on the inhabitants. One company were lodged at J. V.'s, and a guard placed between his house and ours; we were so favoured as not to have any sent to our house. An officer spent the evening with us, and appeared to be in high spirits, and talked of engaging the English as a very trifling affair....
- What appear to be the most important things on Margaret Morris's mind during this week in late December?
- On December 21 and December 27 she mentions that troops may be quartered in the town. Whose troops are they on each occasion?
- What does that tell you about the circumstances townspeople find themselves in?
Jan 3d. This morning we heard very distinctly a heavy firing of cannon; the sound came from about Trenton, and at noon a number of soldiers, upwards of 1000, came into town in great confusion, with baggage and some cannon....They were again quartered on the inhabitants, and we again exempt from the cumber of having them lodged in our house.
Jan 4th. The accounts hourly coming in, are so contradictory and various that we know not which to give credit to. We have heard our people have gained another victory--that the English are fleeing before them, some at Brunswick, some at Princeton. We hear to-day that Sharp Delany, and A. Morris, and others of the Pennsylvania militia, are killed, and that the Count de Nope is numbered with the dead; if so, the Hessians have lost a brave and humane commander....A number of sick and wounded brought into town--calls upon us to extend a hand of charity towards them. Several of my soldiers lef t the next house, and returned to the place from whence they came; upon my questioning them pretty close