(click Here to read Part 1)
Absolutely convinced that the Americans were trapped in Brooklyn Heights with no chance of escape, the British troops had backed off and made camp, staying beyond the range of patriot weapons’ fire. (The pouring rain would, most likely, have rendered those weapons useless anyway.) The American soldiers, at this point, were ‘sitting ducks’.
Or so it seemed.
The heavy rainfall kept the British at bay for two days. During that time, Washington decided that a retreat back across the East River was the army’s only hope for survival. But how was he to transport nine thousand men, their supplies, horses, cannons! and more across the river, without being detected by the enemy?
The General allowed his troops to believe that a counter-attack was being planned, thereby keeping up all signs of normal activity, thus deceiving the British as to his true intentions. ( He spread the word that the wounded were being sent back to Manhattan, however.) Late on the night of August 29, 1776, the troops were ordered, one by one, down to the river. Expecting to board boats and vessels heading into battle, instead the men found they were headed to safety.
By 2 A.M., however, not even half the men had reached the other side of the East River. The approaching dawn saw just half of the troops safely on the far shore. Washington must have been sick with dread. Discovery was imminent, and with it, death.
Michael and Jana Novak, in their book Washington’s God , tell us this: “Yet, just as dawn began to stretch its colorful fingertips across the horizon, a heavy fog rolled in.” Under its cover, Washington was able to evacuate the rest of his army, undetected, and less than an hour after all were safely in Manhattan, the fog lifted.
At its onset, the denseness of the fog would have appeared to be a hazard and an obstruction. The men could barely see in front of them. Its very thickness, however, was in fact what hid their movements from the enemy. It was their deliverance.
Pause to reconsider when unexpected developments appear to hinder your plans.