If you walk south out of Princeton, New Jersey, on Mercer Street for a mile or so you discover how the street got its name. Hugh Mercer, native Scot, friend and physician of George Washington, was a general in the Continental Army who lost his life in the Battle of Princeton. In early July I walked down the street and out to the battlefield, now a large open field dotted with oak trees and surrounded by lush woods.
There are no rusting artillery pieces or stacks of cannon balls on the battlefield—just a huge, haunting open space. At the western perimeter is a memorial with a plaque that reads: “This is hallowed ground. Across these fields in the early light of January 3, 1777, George Washington’s Continentals defeated British Regulars for the first time in the long struggle for American Independence.”
Nearby another plaque marks the place where the 36 soldiers who died on that winter day are buried—21 British and 15 American, buried side by side.