Skip to comments.The Battle of Long Island 1776 [aka Battle of Brooklyn - August 27, 1776]
Posted on 08/26/2008 8:34:38 AM PDT by ETL
Following the withdrawal of the British army from Boston on 17th March 1776, Washington in the expectation that Howe would attack New York which was held for the Congress marched much of his army south to that city. In fact the British had sailed north to Halifax in Nova Scotia. It was not until the summer of 1776 that Howe launched his attack on New York.
The British fleet reached the entrance to the Hudson River on 29th June 1776 and Howe landed on Staten Island on 3rd July. The Congress declared independence the next day.
Reinforcements began to arrive from Britain and Major General Clinton arrived from his abortive foray to Charleston, South Carolina.
Washington had built batteries on Manhattan and Long Island to prevent the British fleet penetrating past New York. Of his 18,000 men Washington had positioned around 10,000 in fortifications on Brooklyn Heights, facing the sea and inland, to defend the approach to Manhattan. This force was commanded by Major General Israel Putnam. Part of the American force held the fortified area along the coast while the main body had taken up positions along the high ground inland.
Putnam had served through the French and Indian Wars in various ranger companies. He was a tough and popular man but elderly and of limited ability in a high ranking command.
On 22nd August the British force landed on Long Island to the South of the American fortifications.
On 26th August the main body of the British troops marched north-east along the line of high ground held by the Americans to begin their attack. Information revealed to the British that the most northern of the three roads across the high ground was not guarded. Howe took his troops over the road and was enabled to attack the left American division commanded by Sullivan in the flank and rear while German troops attacked in front. Sullivans troops forced to leave their positions with much loss and retreat behind the main Brooklyn fortifications.
On the right of the American position, Clinton had attacked with a smaller force. Sterling and his men resisted for some hours until the British appeared in their rear from the other flank. His force then fell back to the fortified line.
On 28th August Washington brought reinforcements from New York but with the increasing threat from the Royal Navy he withdrew from Brooklyn on 29th August. Howe failed to interfere with the withdrawal. On 15th September Washington was forced to leave New York. Again Howe failed to interfere with the withdrawal losing the opportunity to capture Washington and much of the Continental Army.
Washington was forced to conduct a fighting withdrawal to the Delaware River where he wintered.
Casualties: British casualties were around 400 while the Americans lost around 2,000 and several guns.
Follow-up: Brooklyn and the loss of New York was the worst period of the war for Washington and the American cause of independence. Morale in parts of the Continental Army collapsed and whole companies deserted. It is the mark of a truly great leader that he is able to recover from such a reverse.
The Battle for New York
The City at the Heart of the American Revolution
By Barnet Schecter
New York: The only major U.S. city to remain in the hands of a hostile power at the end of the American Revolutionary War. And thus it has remained ever since.
I can't think of the name off-hand, but I know our family records have the name of the Capitan our ancestor fought under.
No, sorry, I don't. But I'm sure you can find something on the internet. Or perhaps someone else here knows?
A WALKING TOUR OF THE BATTLEFIELD IN OUR MIDST
THE BATTLE FOR NEW YORK:
The City at the Heart of the American Revolution [Walking Tour]
by Barnet Schecter
They covered the retreat with probably the earliest organized American use of the bayonett charge.
The real feat in this engagement was Washington's withdrawal to Manhattan Island.
Yes, absolutely! The Marylanders bought Washington time. The posted article didn't really do them justice. Incredibly, the remains of many of them apparently lie buried beneath a body and fender shop in Brooklyn. However, there is a monument to them in Greenwood Cemetery where part of the battle took place.
"During the Battle of Brooklyn, Long Island, on August 27, 1776, the sturdy house and its strategic position at a cross-roads made it the focus of the most dramatic event of the day. Taken in the morning by an estimated two thousand British soldiers, it blocked the retreat of the out-manned American army in the field.
Turning against the stronghold, some four hundred soldiers from Maryland and Delaware, led by General William Alexander, Lord Stirling, attacked it five times and regained the house twice, but were finally repulsed.
Watching from Brooklyn Heights, General George Washington and 8000 troops were heartened by the valor they witnessed, and it hardened their resolve to fight on. The unit lost 256 men, a significant part of the over 1000 American casualties that day."
More on the Marylanders here:
Indeed. Lots of heroes here: Smallwood's Marylanders. and Haslet's Delawares for the infantry. John Glover and his Marbleheaders, helped by 27th Massachusetts got them across the river - a tremendous feat, considering the situation.
What a great heritage for states that have now gone liberal.
Found it,....here is an excerpt from the Army institute of Heraldry (a pretty cool, site BTW)
“The bayonet is representative of its introduction to American arms at the Battle of Long Island 1776, by the Maryland Line and in the use of which it became famed throughout the War. It is also symbolic of the “Maryland 400” which by repeated charges and sustaining heavy losses delayed General Howe’s army, which enabled General Washington to successfully withdraw his defeated army across the Hudson River.”
General Henry Knoxs “ perseverance accomplished what at first seemed impossible .. “
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