2 The American plan of a three pronged attack couldn’t be realized
George Washington devised a plan by which he would carry a three pronged attack. His force of 2,400 men would carry the main assault. Colonel John Cadwalader, with a force of 1,900 men would launch a diversionary attack against the British garrison at Bordentown, New Jersey, to block off reinforcements from the south; while General James Ewingwould take 700 militia to seize the bridge over the Assunpink Creek and prevent enemy troops from escaping. The American plan required three different crossings of the Delaware River, which forms the entire boundary between Pennsylvania and New Jersey. However, in the end, both Cadwalader and Ewing’s forces were unable to cross the river as it was ice-choked and there was a storm.
3 The British leaders were negligent despite intelligence of a probable attack
A British spy had informed British Major General James Grant that Washington’s army was looking to attack Trenton. This information was passed to German colonel Johann Rall, who was in command of the Hessian troops at Trenton. Grant didn’t believe that Washington would attack but he still asked Rall to be vigilant. Rall asked the British to establish a garrison in Maidenhead, close to Trenton. However, his request was denied. At the time, Trenton was a small town with about 100 houses and two main streets. Also, unlike most American settlements, it lacked city walls or fortifications. Some of the Hessian officers advised Colonel Rall to fortify the town but Rall dismissed their concern and even said, “Let them come… Why defenses? We will go at them with the bayonet.”