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New York City played a pivotal role in the Revolutionary War. During a good portion of the War for Independence, British forces held and controlled Lower Manhattan. General Sir William Howe with the British Army held New York City and its port during the war as a means of cutting off the Hudson Valley. Howe was convinced that New York City was an important key for defeating the Continental Army. The New York Harbor offered sheltered waters, which the British used as their base of operations.
The Battle of Brooklyn
This battle happened on August 27, 1776, in what is now called Gowanus. British forces attacked the Colonial army, outnumbering them by 15,000 soldiers. While one regiment from Maryland tried valiantly to hold off the British soldiers, George Washington retreated to Manhattan with most of his soldiers.
- The 1st Maryland Regiment consisted of 400 men who were from Baltimore.
- The Maryland 400 held off the British soldiers at the Old Stone House, which still stands today.
- Two monuments were erected in Prospect Park to memorialize the Maryland 400.
On September 15, 1776, five British warships entered the East River and set anchor about 200 yards from the shore. Today, their location would be between East 32nd Street and East 38th Street. Previously, Colonial soldiers had been guarding Kip’s Bay, but heavy fire in the days preceding the warship arrival had forced them to flee.
- British forces came ashore via Kip’s Bay and took control of the lower half of Manhattan Island.
The Continental Army retreated via Harlem after they lost Kip’s Bay. The soldiers were provoked by British buglers, who played a fox hunting call as an insult to the Americans. The fox hunting call so provoked the Continental Army that they successfully pushed back the British and forced them to withdraw.
- British forces totaled 5,000 men and Continental Army forces totaled 1,800 men.
- Various monuments have been erected throughout Manhattan to commemorate Revolutionary War battles.
Pelham Bay Park
On October 18, 1776, the Continental Army bested the Redcoats in what is currently called Pelham Bay Park. This battle was used to delay the British Army so that the Continental Army could retreat to White Plains.
- Washington’s retreat to White Plains successfully prevented them from being surrounded in Manhattan.
Bennett Park – Battle of Fort Washington
British forces threatened to invade Fort Washington in Manhattan in mid-November, 1776. George Washington ordered his soldiers to leave the fort and retreat to New Jersey. Colonel Robert Magaw refused to abandon the fort.
- General William Howe of the British Army launched his attack on November 16.
- The Continental Army that still remained at the fort were defeated, and Colonel Magaw surrendered.
- Lost Battlefield: The Disastrous Battle for New York – General William Howe sought to capture New York City because he viewed it as a pivotal location for the American forces.
- The Battle of Brooklyn, August 27, 1776 – The Battle of Brooklyn was the first one fought after the adoption of the Declaration of Independence, and battles were fought at Prospect Park, Fort Greene Park, and the Fulton Ferry Landing.
- British Forces Defeat the Patriots in the Battle of Brooklyn – Gaining control of the Hudson River would effectively divide the Colonies in two parts, so the British fought hard to win this battle.
- British Capture New York 1776 – Washington’s Army was driven out of Long Island and Harlem, retreating to White Plains where they managed to hold off the British Army. Eventually, Washington had to retreat to New Jersey.
- The Battle of Brooklyn – The Continental Army was outnumbered at the Battle of Brooklyn, and they also had no ships and untrained soldiers.
- Map: The 1776 New York Campaign – New York City became a hot focal point during the summer and fall of 1776 as the British worked tirelessly to control this region.
- American Revolution: Battle of Long Island – After the Continental Army forced the British Army out of Boston, the Redcoats set their sights on New York City.
- The Battle of Brooklyn – The Patriots were defeated at the Battle of Brooklyn in this first major campaign since declaring independence.
- The Battle of Brooklyn in Prospect Park – When the British and Continental Armies clashed in Prospect Park, the landscape was covered with trees and thick brush.
- Battle of Brooklyn – The Battle of Brooklyn was the biggest battle of the Revolutionary War, and historians estimate that 1,100 Patriots were captured and 300 were killed.
- Battle of Long Island – The Battle of Brooklyn is sometimes called the Battle of Long Island, and it occurred on August 27, 1776.
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