New York and New Jersey campaign

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New York and New Jersey campaign
Part of the American Revolutionary War
Image:NY-retreat-1776.jpg
Washington's retreat from New York October–December 1776 and the Battle of Long Island August 27 1776.
Date 1776–1777
Location New York and New Jersey
Result British gain control of New York; U.S. lose and then regain control of New Jersey
Combatants
United States Great Britain
Commanders
George Washington,
Charles Lee
Sir William Howe,
Lord Cornwallis
Strength
19,000 regulars and militia 25,000 soldiers,
10,000 seamen
New York and New Jersey, 1776–1777
Long IslandKip's BayHarlem HeightsPell's Point – White PlainsFort Washington1st Trenton2nd TrentonPrincetonForage WarBound Brook

The New York and New Jersey campaign was a series of engagements in the American Revolutionary War between forces led by General Sir William Howe, the British commander-in-chief, and the army under General George Washington, the American commander-in-chief. Beginning with the landing on Staten Island on July 3, 1776, British forces gained control of New York City and drove the Americans across New Jersey and into Pennsylvania. Late in 1776, Washington launched a surprise counterstrike, an important morale boost for the Americans after an otherwise disastrous campaigning season.

Contents

[edit] Capture of New York

Having withdrawn from Boston after an unsuccessful campaign, the British now focused on capturing New York City. General William Howe, with the services of his brother, Admiral Lord Richard Howe, began amassing troops on Staten Island in July 1776. General Washington, with a smaller army of about 19,000 men, was uncertain where the Howes intended to strike. He unwittingly violated a cardinal rule of warfare and divided his troops about equally in the face of a stronger opponent between Long Island and Manhattan, thus allowing the stronger British forces to engage only one half of the smaller Continental Army at a time.

In late August, the British transported about 22,000 men (including 9,000 "Hessians") to Long Island. In the Battle of Long Island on August 27, 1776, the British expertly executed a surprise flanking maneuver, driving the Americans back to the Brooklyn Heights fortifications. General Howe then began to lay siege to the works, but Washington skillfully managed a nighttime evacuation through his unguarded rear across the East River to Manhattan Island.

Having taken Long Island, the British moved to seize Manhattan. On September 15, General Howe landed about 12,000 men on lower Manhattan, quickly taking control of New York City. The Americans withdrew to Harlem Heights, where they skirmished the next day, but held their ground.

When Howe moved to encircle Washington's army in October, the Americans again fell back, and a battle at White Plains was fought on October 28, 1776. Once more Washington retreated, but Howe, instead of aggressively pursuing the withdrawal, returned to Manhattan and captured Fort Washington in mid November, taking almost 3,000 prisoners. Four days later, Fort Lee, across the Hudson River from Fort Washington, was also taken.

The British gained control of New York harbor and the surrounding agricultural areas, and held New York City and Long Island for seven years, until the war ended in 1783. The Americans had suffered significant casualties and lost important supplies, but Washington managed to withdraw the core of his army and avoided the decisive confrontation that could have ended the war.

[edit] Retreat across New Jersey

General Lord Cornwallis continued to chase Washington's army through New Jersey until the Americans withdrew across the Delaware River into Pennsylvania in early December. With the campaign at an apparent conclusion for the season, the British entered winter quarters. Although Howe had missed several opportunities to crush the diminishing rebel army, he had killed or captured over 5,000 Americans. He controlled much of New York and New Jersey and was in a good position to resume operations in the spring, with the rebel capital of Philadelphia in striking distance.

The outlook of the Continental Army—and thus the revolution itself—was bleak. "These are the times that try men's souls," wrote Thomas Paine, who was with the army on the retreat. The army had dwindled to fewer than 5,000 men fit for duty and would be reduced to 1,400 after enlistments expired at the end of the year. Spirits were low, popular support was wavering, and Congress had abandoned Philadelphia in despair.

[edit] Washington's counterstrike

Washington reacted by taking the offensive, stealthily crossing the Delaware on Christmas night and capturing nearly 1,000 Hessians at the Battle of Trenton on December 26, 1776. Cornwallis marched to retake Trenton but was outmaneuvered by Washington, who successfully attacked the British rearguard at Princeton on January 3, 1777. Washington then entered winter quarters at Morristown, New Jersey, having retaken most of the colony from the British.

[edit] See also

[edit] Further reading


New York and New Jersey campaign

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