The Death of General Mercer at the Battle of Princeton, January 3, 1777 Artist: John Trumbull (American, 1756–1843)

ca. 1789–ca. 1831

American Paintings and Sculpture

On view, 2nd floor, American Art before 1900

Trumbull here represents multiple moments in the battle of Princeton, New Jersey. At the center, Brigadier General Hugh Mercer, cut off from his beleaguered men, with his dying horse beneath him, awaits the fatal blow from a British bayonet. In the middle distance, General George Washington, on a brown horse, accompanied by Dr. Benjamin Rush, charges onto the field to rally his troops. By lowering the position of the head of Mercer’s horse, which was raised in an earlier oil sketch of this scene, Trumbull shifted the focus from Mercer’s death to the commander in chief, whose bravery gave the American army a crucial victory.


Oil on canvas


21 × 30 3/4 in. (53.3 × 78.1 cm)

Credit Line

Trumbull Collection

Accession Number



18th–19th century


Note: This electronic record was created from historic documentation that does not necessarily reflect the Yale University Art Gallery’s complete or current knowledge about the object. Review and updating of records is ongoing.



Trumbull Collection, to 1832; Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven, Conn.
  • Victoria Bissell Brown and Timothy J. Shannon, Going to the Source: The Bedford Reader in American History, 3rd, 1 (Bedford, Mass.: Bedford/St. Martin's, 2009), 246, ill
  • Helen A. Cooper et al., Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness: American Art from the Yale University Art Gallery, exh. cat. (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Art Gallery, 2008), 66, 90–91, 106, no. 35, ill
  • Christie's New York, New York, George Washington at Princeton: From the Collection of Mrs. J. Insley Blair, sale cat. (2006), 13, ill
  • David McCullough, 1776 (New York: Simon and Schuster, 2005), 223, ill
  • Dennis P. Ryan, New Jersey in the American Revolution (Trenton, N.J.: New Jersey Historical Commission, 1975), 73, fig. plate 6
Object copyright
Additional information

Object/Work type

histories (visual works), military history, portraits

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