One More Time!

At the risk of belaboring a point, I want to share with you another example of what could, from one perspective, be seen as a critical hindrance to achieving a goal, but from another, one realizes that it was, for some, a life-saving grace.

Some months after the re-taking of Boston, Washington was ordered by the Continental Congress to proceed to New York City, in order to prevent a British invasion there. So, in the middle of August, 1776, the General and some 20,000 of his troops headed south. British Admiral Richard Howe and his brother, General William Howe awaited them outside the city, commanding almost 400 warships and transports combined. Most of my reference sources cite 32,000 British soldiers being aboard those ships, but Blackwell’s Encyclopedia of the American Revolution indicates an additional 13,000 ‘seamen’ as well. Out-manned, out-gunned, without a navy…not looking too good for the Americans, at this point.

Also, Washington made one of his first major strategic errors in this engagement. He had not provided for any military intelligence. ( In forthcoming posts, I’ll be writing about George Washington’s eventual spy ring, however. The first CIA?)

At this point, the British forces were assembling near Brooklyn, so General Washington divided his army, bringing the bulk of them from Manhattan to Brooklyn, then settling in at Brooklyn Heights. (In retrospect, this division of troops would be seen as another strategic error.) A discounted possibility of British attack by way of a small, unguarded pass proved fatal. Two-thirds of the enemy’s army traveled up this road, under cover of darkness, and by dawn the entire force was gathered at Bedford, both north and behind the American lines.

Just past midnight, on the morning of August 27, 1776, the battle began.

By that night, not yet two months after the signing if the Declaration of Independence, the American cause seemed fated to extinction. From the vantage point in the fort at Brooklyn Heights, Washington could only watch and wait, as very few of his men made it back.

And then, a downpour…

Once again, ‘weather conditions’ (hand of God?) intervened.

(Please return for the conclusion of the battle at Brooklyn Heights.)

3 responses to “One More Time!

  1. Have you read David McCullough’s 1776? He also has a version out that has reproductions of different letters and maps from the time period. You have probably seen it, but just in case you haven’t, I wanted to point it out to you. I am a big McCullough fan, and 1776 was the book that really got me hooked on him.

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