Battle of Long Island

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The Battle of Long Island is the biggest battle in the Revolutionary War. General Howe went with his forces to Halifax, and General Washington started for New York, where he soon arrived with his army. However, by superior numbers and more daring activity, Congress had gained the dominance. When he arrived in the city, General Washington attempted to block the navigation of the East and North Rivers, by sinking vessels in the channels. He also raised defenses at New York, and on Long Island; and made every preparation in his power for giving the British army a vital response.
General Howe remained at Halifax; but after the recovery of his troops from the fatigue and sickness occasioned by the blockade of Boston, he sailed to the south, and on July 2 landed without opposition. On Staten Island, his army amounted to nine thousand men; and his brother Lord Howe, commander of the British fleet, who had touched at Halifax expecting to find him there, arrived soon afterwards, with a reinforcement of about twenty thousand men from Britain. Thus, General Howe had the command of nearly thirty thousand troops, a more alarming force than had ever before visited these shores. General Washington was poorly prepared to meet such a powerful army. His force consisted of about nine thousand men with many men poorly armed.
On his arrival, Lord Howe, by a flag, sent ashore to Amboy a circular letter to several of the late royal governors, and a declaration mentioning the powers with which he and his brother the general invested, and desiring their publication. General Howe wished to open a connection with General Washington, but without acknowledging his official character as commander-in-chief of the American armies; and for this purpose, he sent a letter to New York; addressed to George Washington. That letter the general refused to receive, because it was not addressed to him in his official character. A second letter was sent, addressed to George Washington. That also, the general declined to receive; but acted in the most polite manner towards Adjutant-General Paterson. Congress approved of the conduct of General Washington on the occasion; and ordered that none of their officers should receive letters of messages from the British army. In the month of July, indeed, it amounted to about seventeen thousand American men, but a much greater number had been expected. However, the quality and equipment of the troops were more discouraging than their numbers. They were as lacking in ammunition as in armor; and instead uniting in the common cause; they became distracted by simple jealousies and prejudices.
Thirty thousand British troops, many of them veterans, all of them excellently equipped, and provided with a fine train of artillery. The Americans soon had the dishonor to find that all their actions to block the navigation of the rivers were weak; for several British ships-of-war passed up the North River.
The American army posted partly at New York, and partly on Long Island. General Greene commanded in the later place; but that officer taken ill, General Sullivan was appointed in his place. General Howe, having collected his troops on Staten Island, crossed the Narrows without opposition, and landed on Long Island, between two small towns, Utrecht and Gravesend.
The American division on the island, about eleven thousand, occupied a fortified camp at Brooklyn, opposite New York. Their right flank was covered by a marsh, which extended to the East River near Mill Creek; their left, by an elbow of the river named Walla Bach Bay. Across the peninsula, from Mill Creek to Walla Bach Bay, the Americans had thrown up entrenchments. In their rear was the East River, about thirteen hundred yards wide.
General Howe soon learned that there would be little difficulty in marching and turning the left of the Americans. Early in the morning of the 27th of August, assisted by Sir Henry Clinton, who had joined him some time before with the troops that had been employed in the unsuccessful attack on Sullivan's Island, he marched with a strong column. In order to distract the attention of the Americans from that movement, he ordered Generals Grant and Heister, with their divisions, to attack the passes near the Narrows and on the Flatbush road. General Grant proceeded to the south. The American advanced guard fled on his approach; but the commander, appointed to guard, that pass afterwards occupied a helpful position and maintained his ground. While the attention of the Americans was occupied by the operation of those two columns, the main body of the British army proceeded through the most remote pass. The American officer appointed to observe that road, performed his duty so that General Howe's column had nearly gained the rear of the American detachment that defended the pass on the Flatbush road, before he gave the alarm. That division had steadily resisted the Hessians; but being surprised of the progress of the enemy on their left, and being fearful of an attack on their rear, they began to retreat. That movement, however, was too late; for the British who had now gained their rear, and who drove them back on the Hessians forced them to retreat towards the British, met them. They drove backward and forward between two fires, until, by a desperate effort, the greater part of them forced their way through the British line, and regained their camp. The division, which opposed General Grant, maintained their ground until told of the defeat of the left wing. When they retreated the greater part of them attempted to escape along the waterway of a milldam, and through a marsh, where many of them died. This division suffered, and the loss regretted.
The British soldiers behaved with their courage, and it was with difficulty that they restrained from instantly attacking the American camp: but General Howe checked their suddenness; thinking that, without any great loss, he could force the Americans to surrender, or to evacuate their camp. On that day, the Americans lost two thousand men in killed, wounded, and prisoners; among the last were Generals Sullivan, Woodhull, and Alexander. They also lost six pieces of artillery. The British and Hessians had between three and four hundred men killed or wounded.
The Americans soon planned a retreat; but it had many difficulties. The Americans retreat took thirteen hours, and on the morning of the 30th, a thick fog hung over Long Island. The fog disappeared about half an hour after the American rear-guard had left the Island. The Americans finally escaped.


Works Cited:
F, Daniel, W Natalae. “Battle of Long Island.” Darter.
http://darter.ocps.net/classroom/revolution/longisle.htm

Free Encyclopedia, Wikipedia. “Battle of Long Island.” Wikipedia. March 11, 2007
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Long_Island

Lee, Susan. The Battle for Long Island and New York. Illinois: Childrens Press, 1975

Ingram, Scott. Triangle Histories of the Revolutionary War: Battles- Battle of Long Island. Washington: Blackbirch Press, 2003

McCullough, David. 1776. New York: Simon & Schuster, 2006

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