The earliest reference to Jinnie Jackson that we have found is a detailed account of the events the night of January 2, 1777, and a surprising aside regarding her family’s genealogy, found in Raum’s History of New Jersey dated 1877.


 Another account about Jinnie from, The Life of General Hugh Mercer,

A woman guided the Continental Army on that march beset with so many perils and difficulties. A woman! Her loyalty, her devotion, her sacrifice, and her suffering for the cause of the Colony have given and shall ever give her all honor, praise and gratitude.


From Ladies at the Crossroads, Eighteenth Century Women of New Jersey:

“On the night of January 2, 1777, a woman dressed in a man’s coat and hat rode at the head of American troops moving out of Trenton towards Stony Brook Bridge.  They left by Sandtown Road (now Hamilton Avenue) along Quaker Road, going into the back country.  Since swamp lands had frozen over that cold winter, the men could move quickly through the area into cover of nearby woods.  Their guide, Jinnie Jackson Waglum, had been especially chosen because of her familiarity with the terrain because much of the land had belonged to her family.

            Jinnie had only met George Washington that afternoon at the American Tavern, run by her friends, the Jonathon Richmond’s.  Washington, newly arrived from Pennsylvania with his main body of troops, had selected the Tavern for his headquarters.  Three battles, shortly after landing from the Delaware River crossing, had been fought with British forces led by General Charles Cornwallis.  Cornwallis had come from Princeton, expecting to win easily over the less experienced American Army.  When his initial efforts were repulsed, Cornwallis decided to wait until the following day to ‘bag the old fox in the morning.’

            Washington had, fox-like, decided to exit from Trenton during the night, but he needed a guide.  On the recommendation of the tavern owners, Jonathon Richmond and his wife, Jinnie Jackson Waglum was selected.  A decoy ‘army’ was left in Trenton to wield picks and shovels in digging trenches and to tend a large number of brightly-burning campfires.  Meanwhile, the rest of the American forces moved around the British lines to a position between the enemy troops at Trenton and at Princeton.

            The ruse succeeded, and the Americans reached Stony Brook Bridge by dawn, January 3, thanks to Jinnie’s knowledgeable guidance.  The Revolutionary forces then went on to defeat the British at Maidenhead (Lawrenceville) and at Princeton.

Jinnie returned to Lamberton, now a section of Trenton, where she lived with her husband, Abraham.  On the banks of the Delaware River, they kept a house of entertainment, frequented by travelers who used the nearby ferry.  Jinnie’s family, the Jackson’s, had come to New Jersey from Ireland many years previously.  They had settled in the area of Allentown, New Jersey, where they purchased considerable property.  Jinnie and her husband left no descendants, but she is survived by the story of her prominent role in the successful American battles of January 3, 1777.[1]


[1] American Association of University Woman (New Jersey Division), Ladies at the Crossroads, Eighteenth Century Woman of New Jersey, 1978 Compton Press, Morristown , N.J.