Princeton Battlefield State Park

500 Mercer Road, Princeton, NJ

Princeton Battlefield State Park

Date of Battle: January 3, 1777

The Battle

After the Continentals take Trenton, the British send a large force under General Charles Cornwallis to recapture the town and the Continental Army. The armies face off at Trenton, but the British arrive too late in the day for battle.

That night, the Americans slip away, leaving their fires burning to trick the British into believing they are preparing for battle. Instead, they march to Princeton and attack the British rearguard.

By the time the main British force from Trenton arrives, the Continentals have moved into defensive positions in the mountains of northern New Jersey. Cornwallis opts to return the British to garrisons near New York City, thus allowing the Americans to claim a great victory in retaking most of New Jersey.

Visiting the Battleground

The Princeton Battlefield State Park commemorates the Battle of Princeton by preserving the fields of battle and maintaining the historic Clarke house and other monuments.

Address: 500 Mercer Road, Princeton, NJ

Entrance fee: None

When you visit the 81-acre Princeton Battlefield State Park you can walk a paved and gravel path around the park. The park includes the following historical sites and monuments:

  • Clarke House Museum: Thomas Clarke was a Quaker farmer who owned 200 acres of land which became the site of the Battle of Princeton. You can visit the Clarke farm, which includes the original two-story half-Georgian frame house and enlarged wing, the carriage barn and smokehouse. The house, consisting of seven rooms, contains much of the original flooring, molding, and windows.
  • Colonnade and Memorial Grove: The colonnade, originally the portico of a mansion belonging to Philadelphia merchant Matthew Newkirk, serves as an entrance and marker for the nearby gravesite of fallen soldiers. A stone memorial marks the approximate gravesite of fifteen American and twenty-one British soldiers who were killed in the battle.
  • Mercer Oak: The Mercer Oak was named because General Hugh Mercer was said to have been laid against the original tree when he was shot and bayoneted during the battle. The oak that stands now is a descendant of the original Mercer Oak, which collapsed in 2000.

The Princeton Battlefield Society, the officially recognized friends organization of the Princeton Battlefield State Park, sponsors events and programs throughout the year. Visit the Princeton Battlefield Society web site for more information.

Check the Princeton Battlefield State Park web site for information on hours of operation.

→ Have you been here? Do you have suggestions for others who are passionate about history and want to make the most of their visit, or recommendations for things nearby that every history lover should see?  Please send them in and we may add them to this page.

Contributor: This list of major Revolutionary War Battles and descriptions was written by Michael Troy, the creator and host of the American Revolution Podcast, who selected these sites and described the battles.

Photo:  "Princeton Battlefield State Park (Princeton, NJ).JPG" by Daderot licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0.

Editor: Creation of this trip, including additional research on visiting these historic sites by Donna Keesling, editor at The History List.

Updated April 8, 2022

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