battle of Long Island

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battle of Long Island, Aug. 27, 1776, American defeat in the American Revolution. To protect New York City and the lower Hudson valley from the British forces massed on Staten Island, George Washington sent part of his small army to defend Brooklyn Heights, on Long Island. After several unsuccessful peace overtures, Sir William Howe landed at Gravesend while the British fleet under his brother, Richard Howe, shelled New York. After Sir William's troops defeated an American force under John Sullivan and William Alexander (Lord Stirling), Israel Putnam, the corps commander, prepared for the main attack. Sir William, not wanting another Bunker Hill, decided to lay siege instead of storming Brooklyn Heights. Washington saw the position was hopeless and evacuated (night of Aug. 29–30) his army back to Manhattan. Shortly afterward, the Americans began the retreat northward in which delaying actions were fought at Harlem Heights, White Plains, and Fort Washington. Washington managed to extricate most of his troops, and he regrouped them before striking at Trenton.

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LONG ISLAND, BATTLE OF (27 August 1776). On 27 August 1776, British general William Howe embarked from Staten Island in New York, with all but one of his brigades, for Gravesend Bay beach on the southwestern tip of Long Island. General George Washington's outpost line, from Brooklyn Heights along the shore from the Narrows, was quickly reinforced with nearly a third of the entire American army. On the night of 26–27 August, Howe struck Washington's main position. Had this attack been pushed, all American forces on Long Island could have been captured. As it was, realizing his danger, Washington withdrew to Manhattan on the night of 29– 30 August without interference from the British.


Gruber, Ira D. The Howe Brothers and the American Revolution. New York: Atheneum, 1972.

Tiedemann, Joseph S. "A Revolution Foiled: Queens County, New York, 1775–1776." Journal of American History 75, no. 2 (September 1988): 417–444.

Robert S.Thomas/a. r.

See alsoHarlem, Battle of ; Long Island ; New York City ; Revolution, American: Military History .