Descriptive data
  • John Trumbull
  • The Capture of the Hessians at Trenton, December 26, 1776
  • Paintings
  • 18th-19th century
  • 1786-1828
  • Oil on canvas
  • 51.1 x 76.2 cm (20 1/8 x 30 in.)
  • In this scene, Trumbull celebrates an important American victory. On December 25, 1776, Washington resolved to put an end to the long series of military defeats that had demoralized American troops by launching a surprise attack on the Hessians, German mercenaries in the British Army, at Trenton. After crossing the Delaware on a storm night, the Continentals besieged the town with cannons and bayonets. The Germans, caught on the morning after Christmas celebrations, were unable to organize a resistance; the ensuing battle lasted only forty-five minutes. Colonel Johann Gottlieb Rall, the Hessian commander, was mortally wounded, and 1,000 of his troops taken prisoner, while only three Americans were injured. The Capture of the Hessians at Trenton focuses on the generosity of the victorious Americans toward a fallen enemy officer. In the center, General Washington, attended by two aides, Captain Tench Tilghman and Lieutenant Colonel Robert Harrison, directs Major William Stephens Smith to care for the mortally wounded Colonel Rall. In his Autobiography Trumbull wrote: "I composed the picture, for the express purpose of giving a lesson to all living and future soldiers in the service of their country, to show mercy and kindness to a fallen enemy - their enemy no longer when wounded and in their power."
  • Yale University Art Gallery, American Paintings and Sculpture
  • 90
  • Image and original data provided by Yale University
  • Yale University Art Gallery, Trumbull Collection, (1832.5)
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