Overview: As soon as Fort Lee was abandoned, Washington began to withdraw his army across New Jersey toward Philadelphia. About 5,000 Americans left Hackensack on November 21, 1776, and retired without casualties 100 miles to safety behind the Delaware River on December 7. But the troops suffered a want of clothing and a sense of defeat which quickly translated into high sickness and desertion rates. It was a demoralized army that unraveled in retreat. Even their stoic commander despaired over "a noble cause lost," and wrote to his brother, "I think the game is pretty near up.