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Battle of Long Island

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Date: 27 Aug 1776 [unknown]
Location: [unknown]
Surnames/tags: American_Revolution 1776
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Battle of Long Island

Alias: Battle of Brooklyn or the Battle of Brooklyn Heights
Date: August 27, 1776
Location: Kings County, Long Island, New York
Victor: British

This is the first major battle in the American Revolutionary War following the Declaration of Independence. It's also the largest battle of the entire conflict, and the first battle in which an army of the United States engaged, having declared itself a nation only the month before.

After defeating the British in the Siege of Boston on March 17, 1776, Gen. Washington brought the Continental Army to defend the strategic port city of New York, then limited to the southern end of Manhattan Island.

Washington knew the city's harbor would be an excellent base for the British Navy during the campaign. So he established defenses and waited for a British attack.

July 1776: Under Gen. William Howe, the British land a few miles across the harbor on Staten Island. Over the next month and a half, ships slowly reinforced them at Lower New York Bay, bringing their total force to 32,000 men. With the British fleet in control of the entrance to the harbor, Washington knew the difficulty in holding the city. Believing Manhattan would be the first target, he moved the bulk of his forces there.

22 Aug 1776: British land on the southwest shore of Long Island, across The Narrows from Staten Island -- over 12 miles south of East River crossings to Manhattan. After five days of waiting, the British attack American defenses on Guan Heights. But unknown to Americans, Howe brings his main army around the rear and attacks their flank soon after. The Americans panicked, but a stand by 400 Maryland troops prevent most of the army from capture. The remainder flee to the main defenses on Brooklyn Heights.

The British dug in for a siege but on the night of August 29–30, Washington evacuates the entire army to Manhattan without loss of materiel and life.

Washington and the Continental Army are completely driven out of New York after several more defeats and retreat through New Jersey and into Pennsylvania. (1)

United States Commanders and leaders

George Washington
Israel Putnam, image
William Alexander
Thomas Mifflin
Henry Knox
John Sullivan
Strength 10,000
Casualties and losses 300 killed, ~700 wounded, 1,000 captured

Kingdom of Great Britain Commanders and leaders

William Howe
Charles Cornwallis
Henry Clinton
William Erskine
James Grant
Charles Mawhood
Strength 32,000
Casualties and losses 64 killed, 293 wounded, 31 missing

Images

  • American strategy called for the first line of defense to be based on the Heights of Guan - a series of hills which stretched northeast across King's County. The main defensive works - a series of forts and entrenchments - were located in the northwest of the county in and around the Dutch town of Brookland. The Road to Narrows is the Gowanus Road. No.5 is the Old Stone House. Map by Bernard Ratzer based on his 1766-1767 survey.
  • British military map from 1776 showing the marching routes and battle sites during the Battle of Long Island.
  • Battle of Long Island, 1858 Alonzo Chappel. Gunpowder smoke from cannon and muskets marks where Stirling and the Maryland troops attack the British, while in the foreground the rest of the American troops escape across Brouwer's mill pond. Building pictured is the mill.




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Categories: Battle of Long Island