The Battle of Long Island (also known as the Battle of Brooklyn or the Battle of Brooklyn Heights) was fought in 1776 between the British and the American Continental Army. The generals in charge on the day were Major General Lord Howe and General George Washington.
The combatants were 20,000 British and Hessian troops and 10,000 Americans. The Hessian soldiers were German auxiliaries hired by the British Empire from their rulers. They fought in several skirmishes but are mainly associated with their role in the War of Independence.
The battle took place just one month after the United States declared itself a nation and was the first major battle in the American War of Independence (American Revolutionary War) It was also the biggest battle of the whole war.
Following the defeat of the British at the Siege of Boston in March, General Washington’s Continental Army relocated to New York City, then confined to the southern tip of Manhattan, to defend it. On 27th August the Americans were attacked by British troops but were unaware that the main part of the army had gone to their rear and were thus able to effect a flanking action. The Americans, many fewer in number, began to panic but 250 Maryland troops made a stand and allowed most of the rest of the army to flee to the batteries on Brooklyn Heights.
The British anticipated a siege but two nights later Washington evacuated his remaining army of 9,000 men to Manhattan without further loss of life, weaponry or supplies.
'Retreat at Long Island' by J C Armytage (1820-1897)
It depicts Washington directing the retreat across the East River .
Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons
A true leader, he was the last man to board the last ferry.
Ultimately, Washington and his army were forced back through New Jersey and into Pennsylvania. The loss of New York marked the saddest stage in the fight for independence. Many hundreds of men deserted and morale was extremely low. It is the sign of a great leader that Washington was able to rally his troops once more and finally achieve his end - wonderful for the Americans but a sad day for King George III.
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