Giving Up on New York in 1776

Giving Up on New York in 1776 (Illustration) American History American Revolution Famous Historical Events Law and Politics Social Studies Geography

After Patriots forced General Howe and his fleet out of Boston, the Brits sailed into New York Harbor in June of 1776.  It was the start of a planned invasion. 

Within weeks, ten thousand more men arrived in Staten Island.  Throughout the summer, British commanders increased the size of their forces until General Howe had around 32,000 troops (including 9,000 German mercenaries called Hessians.

The sheer size of his forces helped Howe to deliver a crushing defeat at the Battle of Long Island (also known as the Battle of Brooklyn).  Washington had to withdraw his men to Manhattan. 

At the risk of being trapped in the lower part of that island, Washington thought it best to evacuate New York City.  Before leaving, he ordered his men to fortify upper Manhattan (which helped him push back the British at the Battle of Harlem Heights).

After further difficult losses, Washington decided to leave New York.  He crossed the Hudson, moving his troops into New Jersey.

General Greene and his patriot forces joined with Washington's, continuing an American retreat toward the Delaware River.  General Cornwallis and his Redcoats were not far behind.

Historians believe that had General Howe capitalized on his successes, the tide of war would have likely turned in Britain's favor.  But Washington, with his tactical skills, took advantage of openings to move his troops to safer ground.  

This battle map, published in the Gentleman's Magazine during 1777, depicts key battles in the New York area during 1776.

The British were able to hold all of New York Harbor until America's war for independence was over. 

Click on the image for a substantially larger view.


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Author: Carole D. Bos, J.D. 5189stories and lessons created

Original Release: Jun 18, 2013

Updated Last Revision: Apr 15, 2015

Media Credits

For a look at more eighteenth-century magazines, published in London, visit the Bodleian Library’s web site

The Battle of Long Island painting, linked above, is by Alonzo Chappel, 1850. (Brooklyn Historical Society)

The Artillery Retreat from Long Island, 1776, also linked above, is a lithograph by The Werner Company, 1899. (Library of Congress)


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"Giving Up on New York in 1776" AwesomeStories.com. Jun 18, 2013. Dec 06, 2019.
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