Sunday, July 28, 2019

Episode 107: Battles of Kip’s Bay & Harlem Heights

We last left Washington’s army having escaped from almost certain capture on Long Island, across the river to Manhattan on August 30, 1776.  Rather than attempt to pursue the Continental Army, British General William Howe remained on Long Island, doing pretty much nothing for the next two weeks except deploying his army along the river.

During that time, his brother Admiral Richard Howe held his Staten Island Peace Conference, which I discussed two weeks ago.  Washington and the Continental Army waited in Manhattan for something to happen.

Councils of War

During this period of inactivity, after he had recovered from an exhausting two or three days without sleep, General Washington prepared his next steps.  He sent multiple letters to Congress asking how he should proceed, since civilian control of the military was of paramount importance.  He also held two councils of war with this top officers to figure out how they might mount a defense against the British.

Washington at council of war (from Age of Revolutions)
At the first meeting on September 6, he discussed his request to Congress that the army burn New York to deny it to the enemy and escape to the north up Manhattan to a safe crossing point to New Jersey.  Congress had responded that the Army should not burn New York.  This was a departure from its decision in Boston, where they gave Washington authority to destroy the city if he deemed it necessary.  Washington and his officers debated whether this meant they should try to hold the city at all costs, or simply retreat and hand over the city to the British Army.

Since the retreat from Long Island, Washington’s army had shrunk from a temporary high of about 28,000 to around 18,000.  Most of the increase and decrease came from large numbers of local militia from the area.  They arrived in the days before the battle of Long Island and just as quickly went home when it seemed clear that they were going to lose.  At first, Washington tried to stop the desertions, but then relented.  He figured that keeping large numbers of whiners who wanted to leave was worse than having a smaller core of men who were still willing to fight.  It also strengthened his view that America needed a professional standing army as they could not rely on militia.  Of the 18,000, nearly a third were unfit for duty, mostly due to disease.  So Howe’s army would be more than twice the size of Washington’s, and that is without even considering the British Navy, whose guns could wreak havoc on the city from three sides.

Now that Howe controlled Long Island, it would be a relatively simple task to cross the East River north of the city and cut off Washington’s troops from any line of retreat.  None of Washington’s officers thought they had any serious chance of stopping the British, but many figured they could make Howe’s victory as painful as possible, much like the bloody British victory at Bunker Hill.  Several of Washington’s letters indicate he thought he would mount a glorious defense and die in battle.

The Continental war council decided to do what just about any military professional would say the most fundamental mistake any commander can do, divide your forces in the face of a superior force.  They deployed about 9000 men, about half their force on the northern part of the Island under the command of General William Heath, where they expected Howe’s main attack. They put about 5000 men at the southern tip of the island under General Israel Putnam, just in case Howe was stupid enough to try a direct frontal assault on the city from the harbor, and they put about Generals Nathanael Greene and Joseph Spencer with about 4000 of their least experienced soldiers in the middle where they could be deployed in either direction.  The problem, of course, is that no matter where Howe decided to strike, he would easily overwhelm the smaller defense force that met him.

A few days later, on September 12, the day after the Peace Conference, Washington called a second council of war.  He had received clarification from Congress that he had the discretion to decide whether or not to defend the city, though he still did not have authority to burn it.  General Greene, who had recovered from his debilitating illness, proposed that the army abandoned New York, so it could live to fight another day, rather than being trapped on the island.  The council voted to move its army north of the city to King’s Bridge, where Howe would likely conduct his landing, aside from a force of 2000 at Fort Washington to prevent the Royal Navy from moving up the Hudson River.

Kip’s  Bay

Over on Long Island, British General Howe planned his attack.  Howe’s second in command, General Henry Clinton, proposed they land at King’s Bridge, just as the Continentals thought would be the most obvious place to land.  The British could easily overwhelm the defenders there and trap the entire Continental Army on the island below them.  Washington would have no choice but to surrender his army and most likely end the rebellion.

British land at Kip's Bay (from Wikimedia)
Howe had other plans. His goal was to take new York, not capture Washington’s army.  He decided to land just north of the city at Kip’s Bay, roughly near modern day 35th street.  This would bypass the city defenses, during his planning, most of the American army would be north of the invasion point, allowing them an easy path of escape.  By the day of attack, almost all of the Continental army had moved north of this point,

As the Continentals left the city, they took with them almost anything of possible use to the enemy, including all church bells, which could be melted down to make cannonballs.  Although Washington kept his promise to Congress not to burn New York, he wanted to leave behind as little as possible for the use of the enemy.

After the Continental Army pulled out of the city, New Yorkers did what they always do when law enforcement breaks down.  They looted the city, breaking into house and business, stealing just about anything not nailed down.  By the time the British arrived in town almost anything of value, beyond the buildings themselves, was long gone.

Howe originally planned to attack on September 13, the anniversary of General Wolf’s victory of Quebec during the French and Indian War.  This was no coincidence.  Howe selected the password “Quebec” for the night of attack, with the countersign “Wolf”.  But organization took longer than planned.  The first soldier landed on the morning of September 15.  If Howe had waited another day or two, he might have avoided a battle altogether.  The Continental soldiers had already begun their retreat from New York up to King’s Bridge to the North.


Instead, Howe’s invasion force met a relatively small group of a few hundred militia.  On the morning of the 15th, five navy ships opened up an artillery barrage on Kip's Bay for an hour.  Gen. Clinton then landed an advance force of 4000 British and Hessian soldiers.  The Continentals assigned to defend the shore ran terrified inland.  These were less than 1000 militia and some of the least experienced Continental soldiers.  Many of them were armed only with spears.  Since this seemed like the most strategically stupid place to land, the best troops were elsewhere.  As a result, Clinton’s advance force met almost no opposition as it landed.

Landing at Kip's Bay (from Wikimedia)
As the Kip’s Bay defenders ran north and west, they encountered other regiments who became unnerved by the panicked retreat and fled themselves.  Whole regiments began to throw away their guns and equipment so that they could run faster and escape the British.

General Washington heard the sound of gunfire and rode toward the battle.  As he did, he found his army running toward him in the opposite direction in full flight.  He attempted to stop the retreating soldiers and get them to make a stand.  He even started striking the men who ran past him, trying to stop them from running.  Even Washington’s presence inspired almost no one to stop.  Eventually the normally imperturbable Washington lost his temper, threw his hat on the ground disgustedly and said something to the effect of are these the soldiers with which I am to defend America?

Washington continued to stand unmoving as the first British troops approached.  The infantry got within 50 yards of Washington, firing at him but unable to hit him.  Washington refused to budge, apparently preferring to die on the spot than run away with his army.  Eventually, his adjutant Joseph Reed had to grab the reins of his horse and lead him away from the advancing enemy.

General Clinton landed his men but did not pursue the enemy very far.  He was under direct orders to wait for the main force under General Howe to land.  That took place over the course of the day.  Had Clinton set up defensive lines across the island, he could have captured the 5000 soldiers under Putnam who were still retreating from the city.  He might have taken prisoner nearly a third of the Continental Army.  Even after Howe’s main force landed, most of Putnam’s army was still south of the British, moving north.

The British had blocked the main road up the center of the Island, but never bothered to extend their lines all the way to the Hudson.  Putnam, working with a local named Aaron Burr, moved his 5000 soldiers out of the city and up the west coast of the island, along the Hudson River.  Putnam did deploy a few companies to move inland to make sure they would not be surprised by the enemy.  Ironically, these companies did make contact with the enemy and engaged in a small firefight.  As they retreated back to the column, the British pursued, leading them straight to Putnam’s main column.  But by the time they arrived, they only made contact with the very rear of the column.  There was a brief firefight as the Continentals fought a rearguard action.  With the column having moved north of the British line, the British did not pursue them.

Mrs. Murray

Patriot propaganda later claimed that Gen. Howe was detained by a patriotic Quaker woman named Mary Murray, who with her husband Robert owned one of the finest mansions on the island.  Robert Murray was a loyalist merchant, but two of Mrs. Murray’s cousins were fighting with the Continental Army.

After General Howe landed, Mrs. Murray and her two daughters opened up their home, and their wine cellar to Howe and his officers.  They entertained the general for hours with good wine and witty conversation, Putnam’s army had the time in needed to march up the west side of the island and escape.

Gen. Howe at home of Mary Murray (from Lib of Congress)
The patriots portrayed Mrs. Murray as a hero.  Howe’s enemies in the army, and back in London, smeared him with the notion that his interest in women and wine led to a neglect of duty that permitted the Continentals to escape.  In truth, Mrs. Murray had no idea the Continentals were using that afternoon to escape, and General Howe likely would have moved just as slowly had he been sitting in a tent reading papers, as he did chatting with Mrs. Murray.  Howe had hours to kill waiting for his entire army to ferry across the East River.  He had no intention of moving forward until his entire army had crossed.

Howe expected a counterattack from Washington that never came.  Marching inland with a partial army into a possible ambush was just the sort of risk that General Howe always avoided.  Why put your army in any risk if you can be assured a victory a little later once you have your much larger army fully in position and ready to go?

In the end, the battle of Kip’s Bay was not much of a battle at all. Once again the British advanced and the Americans ran.  No counterattack nor even a spirited defense ever occurred that day.  Later that same day, Howe deployed a brigade south to take possession of the city.  The New Yorkers who remained greeted the British as liberators.  The British marched to the southern tip of the Island and hoisted the Union Jack.  They would remain in possession of the city for the remainder of the war.

For Washington, the pathetic route at Kip’s Bay was one of the most humiliating experiences of his career.  The flight did, however, mean the army experienced relatively few casualties or even prisoners, and lived to fight another day.  The Americans suffered only about 60 killed and 300 captured.  Howe’s refusal to cut of the Continental retreat was seen as an act of military malpractice.  Continental General Putnam commented that Howe either supported the cause of the Continental Army or was a complete idiot.  Howe still seemed to be under the delusion that if he could show the rebels that his army could push them off the field at will, they would soon end the rebellion and submit without the need for massive loss of life. 

Harlem Heights

The day after his landing at Kip’s Bay, General Howe slowly marched his army north to confront Washington.  The Continentals had moved just past a small Dutch village called Harlem.  Washington deployed what remained of his army on the hill just above the village, an area known as Harlem Heights (today known as Washington Heights).  Although the Howes had been all over the world, Washington and his generals were determined that these globetrotters would not come to Harlem.

Battle of Harlem Heights (from Wikimedia)
Washington used the terrain to established a multi layered line of defense where the island narrowed.  In the front line General Greene commanded.  If overrun, the men would fall back to the second line commanded by General Putnam.  Behind them General Sullivan, now exchanged for a British officer and permitted to return to battle, commanded a third line.  Behind him, Washington set up his command in a local mansion.  With his men entrenched on the rocky heights, Washington hoped at least to force Howe into a costly charge much like Bunker Hill.  Howe also had the option of sailing behind all these lines and landing up the Hudson.  Fort Washington was still to the north, but even the fort was not proving much impediment to the British Navy.  The British Army could also move around to the east and attack behind Washington’s lines at King’s Bridge or elsewhere along the Bronx River.

For now though, Howe did not plan either a frontal assault or a flanking movement behind Washington’s lines.  Howe took up a position about two miles south of General Washington.  One September 16, the day after landing at Kip’s Bay, Howe sent a small force of 300 Regulars to probe Washington’s position.  Continental forces detected the advance and sent out a force of about 160 soldiers to confront them.

Lieutenant Colonel. Thomas Knowlton commanded the force.  You may recall that Knowlton was a battle tested veteran who had prevented Howe from forcing a flanking movement around the side of Bunker Hill a year earlier.  Washington hoped Knowlton’s leadership would prevent another frightened retreat like the day before.  Although Knowlton quickly found his men outnumbered, his men stood their ground and traded fire with the British.

British forces at Harlem Heights (from British Battles)
The Continentals soon fell back in good order, but kept the enemy engaged. As the Continentals retreated, the British began blowing a fox hunt on their bugles, which the Continentals, and Washington especially, took as a deep insult.

Washington sent another small force under the Command of General John Nixon to engage with the British.  At the same time, he sent Knowlton’s Rangers to circle around the battlefield and hit the British from the rear.

The Continentals held the high ground on a hill and traded fire with the British.  As they did so, Knowlton took his force on a flanking march, attempting to get behind the enemy and attack its rear.  Before he could do so, the British began to retreat.

Although Nixon’s force were supposed to keep the enemy engaged and distracted, it ended up pushing forward and forcing the enemy to retreat.  By pushing the enemy back, Knowlton’s flanking movement who were supposed to attack the enemy’s rear ended up hitting the enemy on its side.

Washington sent in more reinforcements under the command of Gen. George Clinton, a cousin of the British General Henry Clinton and no relation to the godfather of funk.  Clinton also brought in artillery to bring to bear on the British.

On the British side, General Henry Clinton proposed crossing the Harlem River, marching up and crossing behind the Americans to trap them.  But once again, Howe rejected any aggressive action that would trap the Americans.  He wanted to leave them a line of retreat so that they would leave Manhattan island completely, but without forcing a bloody fight to the finish.  Instead, the British retreated back from the advancing Americans until they fell under the protection of the navy’s cannon in the Hudson River.

Because the Americans had pushed back the British advance, Patriots deemed the fight a minor but important victory.  Sadly for Colonel Knowlton, his brave leadership earned him a fatal wound which ended his promising career as a military commander.  Beyond his loss and those of a few other brave officers and men, Americans considered the engagement a victory that proved they could recover from the embarrassing flight at Kip’s Bay the day before.  For the British, it was only a minor skirmish that only involved the full engagement of a few hundred man advance party.

Following the day’s fighting, the two sides held their lines and waited for something to happen.  Howe was unwilling to engage in a frontal assault on the main lines or attempt any flanking action.  Once again the forward movement stalled and both sides took another pause.

For the next few weeks, the Continentals would stay put holding Harlem Heights and Fort Washington at the northern tip of Manhattan Island.  The British remained in no hurry to push them much further.  Howe seemed unwilling to take much of any risk, nor to force a bloody engagement that would result in large casualties on either side.  As usual, he left Washington with an obvious line of retreat and waited around for Washington to realize he had no choice but to use it.

Next Week: France under King Louis XVI begins covert assistance to the American cause of liberty.

- - -

Next Episode 108: The French Connection

Previous Episode 106: Arms Race on Lake Champlain

Click here to donate
American Revolution Podcast is distributed 100% free of charge. If you can chip in to help defray my costs, I'd appreciate whatever you can give.  Make a one time donation through my PayPal account. 
Mike Troy

Click here to see my Patreon Page
You can support the American Revolution Podcast as a Patreon subscriber.  This is an option for people who want to make monthly pledges.  Patreon support will give you access to Podcast extras and help make the podcast a sustainable project.  Thanks again!

Further Reading


From George Washington to John Hancock, 2 September 1776, Request Congress to burn New York City:

To George Washington from John Hancock, 3 September 1776, instructions not to destroy NYC:

From George Washington to John Hancock, discussing council of war 8 September 1776:

Battle of Kip's Bay:

Battle of Harlem Heights:

“Cursedly Thrashed: The Battle of Harlem Heights, by Joshua Shepherd (JAR) (2014):

Mapping NYC Battles:

"The Enigma Of General Howe, by Thomas Fleming" American Heritage, Vol. 15, Issue 2 (Feb. 1964):

Free eBooks
(from unless noted)

The Detail and Conduct of the American War, under Generals Gage, Howe, Burgoyne, and Vice Admiral Lord Howe, (original reports and letters) The Royal Exchange, 1780.

Commemoration of the battle of Harlem Plains on its one hundredth anniversary, by New York Historical Society, 1876.

Carrington, Henry Battles of the American Revolution, 1775-1781, A.S. Barnes & Co. 1876.

Emmet, Thomas The Battle of Harlem Heights, The Magazine of History, 1907.

Force, Peter American Archives, Series 5, Vol 3, Washington: St. Claire Clarke, 1837.

Johnston, Henry, Battle of Harlem Heights, September 16, 1776, MacMillan Co. 1897.

Johnston, Henry The Campaign of 1776 Around New York and Brooklyn, Long Island Historical Society, 1878.

Martin, Joseph Plumb The Adventures of a Revolutionary Soldier, 1830 (This is a copy of the original print, but in poor quality.  You can borrow a better quality copy or listen to a free audio copy of the book).

Tomlinson, Abraham; Dawson, Henry B. New York city during the American revolution : Being a collection of original papers (now first published) from the manuscripts in the possession of the Mercantile library association, of New York city by New York (N.Y.). Mercantile Library Association;
Privately printed for the Association, 1861.

Books Worth Buying
(links to unless otherwise noted)*

Daughan, George C. Revolution on the Hudson: New York City and the Hudson River Valley in the American War of Independence, New York: W.W. Norton & Co. 2016.

Ellis, Joseph Revolutionary Summer: The Birth of American Independence, New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2013.

Fleming, Thomas 1776: Year of Illusions, New York: W.W. Norton & Co., 1975.

Gallagher, John J. Battle Of Brooklyn, 1776,  Da Capo Press, 1995.

McCullough, David 1776, New York: Simon & Schuster, 2005.

Schecter, Barnet The Battle for New York, New York: Walker Publishing, 2002.

* As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

Sunday, July 21, 2019

Episode 106: Arms Race at Lake Champlain

Today, I’m going to step away from New York City to take a look at events on Lake Champlain.  At the same time the Howe Brothers in New York were using their massive military force to push Washington out of New York, Generals Guy Carleton and John Burgoyne were trying to push southward from Canada.  We last looked at Canada in Episode 95 when Carleton’s troops pushed the last of the Continental Army out of Canada and into Lake Champlain in upstate New York.  The remains of the Patriot’s Northern Army fell back to Fort Ticonderoga. 

Carleton and Burgoyne

For the British in Canada, everything seemed to be going well during the spring.  Burgoyne had a late arrival in May 1776.  By the end of June, the British had pushed the Americans out of Canada entirely.  Burgoyne had used the 8000 or so British and German forces he had brought with him from Britain.  With the combined local militia and Indians he had a force of 11,000-12,000 men.

Following the victory in Canada, Carleton and Burgoyne’s disagreement became more apparent.  Clearly, according to rank and Lord Germain’s express orders, Carleton retained command.  Burgoyne would obey orders but as most top subordinates did at the time, made clear to anyone who would listen that Carlton was holding him back.  He could lead the forces to victory if only Carlton did not hold his reins so tightly.

General "Gentleman Johnny"
Burgoyne (from Wikimedia)
Burgoyne had left Boston in the fall of 1775 to return home and convince the King and ministry that he knew how to win the war.  He drafted a memo for the ministry entitled: Thoughts for Conducting the War from the Side of Canada.  He planned to lead his military force up the St. Lawrence River to break the siege of Quebec and free Gen. Carleton.  From there, his men would move down lake Champlain to retake Fort Ticonderoga. Next, they would move down the Hudson River, eventually linking up with Howe’s Army moving up the river from New York City.  He even made a bet with a friend in London that he would be back, victorious, by Christmas 1777.

There was nothing particularly new about this plan.  The Ministry had been planning to use the Hudson River to cut off New England since the war began.  Burgoyne’s memo added far more details on exactly what troops should be used and why.  That was essentially what the ministry adopted as its plan, but with one alteration.  General Carleton, not Burgoyne, would command the army after it reached Quebec.

Gen. Carleton could not easily move his British fleet on the St. Lawrence River to Lake Champlain.  He would have to disassemble his ships, carry them up the rapids, and then reassemble them at St. Jean before he could sail into the Lake, or in the alternative, build new ships at St. Jean and carry over the armaments needed.  Either option would take months.

Burgoyne thought they should continue to press their advantage.  The British had clear military superiority and had the Continentals on the run.  With the cooperation of the local Indians, the British could move overland to Fort Ticonderoga and bypass Arnold’s fleet on the lake.  He also suggested moving further upriver to Lake Ontario and marching on the Americans from the west through New York.

Carleton, however, thought that these plans were too risky.  He preferred the safer option of building a fleet to recapture the lake, then sailing down to Fort Ticonderoga and taking the Fort.  It was undoubtedly a safer option, but it meant the British could not begin moving again until fall.  That gave the rebels time to build up their defenses on the lake and at the fort.  Even if the British could take the fort in the fall, that almost certainly meant pausing again for the winter and not starting down the Hudson until the spring of 1777 at the earliest.

General Sir Guy Carleton
(from Wikimedia)
Carleton also used General Howe’s approach by trying to reconcile with the rebels after recapturing Canada.  He released most of his prisoners, including Daniel Morgan, the future general.  He issued pardons liberally to Canadians and made every effort to make sure the locals would put all the recent unpleasantness behind them.

Burgoyne quickly grew frustrated at waiting.  In addition to a host of other reasons for wanting to see his work through to a quick ending, he had left his sick wife in London.  He had hoped he could get back to care for her.  Sadly, as he sat in Canada all summer waiting for things to happen, he learned that his wife had died in June.

Another good reason not to wait was smallpox.  The disease had ravaged both armies during the war, and had been particularly destructive in Canada.  I know I’ve talked about the ravages of disease before, but it’s hard to understate its importance.  More than 90% of the military deaths during the revolution came from disease.  Smallpox, Typhus, Typhoid fever, malaria, and dysentery killed thousands in Canada alone.  Having soldiers sitting around all summer would likely kill more of them than sending them into battle.  Unlike the Continentals who could always find more and more local men to replace the fallen, the British had to spend far more time and expense to import fresh troops from across the ocean.

Burgoyne occupied his time by keeping up a correspondence with Secretary of State, Lord Germain, in London.  Germain already had a bad opinion of Carleton.  He readily listened and supported Burgoyne’s frustration over Carleton’s lack of action.  When the King proposed awarding Carleton the Order of the Bath, Germain tried, unsuccessfully, to prevent it.  Although Carleton had other friends in high places which protected him, Germain would look for any  reason to recall Carleton and promote Burgoyne.  During that summer, Lord Germain issued orders to give Burgoyne an independent command of an army in New York while he left Carleton to remain in command in Canada.  But those orders, mostly due to logistical problems, did not reach Canada until 1777.  So for the remainder of the year, Carleton ran the show and Burgoyne sat around impatiently, waiting for something to change.

Horatio Gates

On the patriot side, fear of a British attack loomed over everything.  Congress decided to change the leadership in hopes of finding someone who could whip the American Army into shape and hold off any invasion into New York.  Once the British had pushed the patriots out of Canada following the battle of Three Rivers, Congress shipped General Sullivan back to New York in time to be captured at the Battle of Brooklyn.  General Wooster returned to Connecticut and would resign his commission a few months later.  In their place, Congress sent General Horatio Gates.  Although Gates was one of the original generals Congress appointed back in the summer of 1775, I have not had much to say about him so far, as he hadn’t done much.

Gates was British born in 1727 to commoner parents.  Despite his low birth, he somehow obtained a lieutenant’s commission as a young man and served in what is today Germany during the War of Austrian Succession.  He must have served well, as he received a wartime promotion to captain, despite the fact that there was no way he had the money to pay for such a commission.

Gen. Horatio Gates
(from Wikimedia)
After the war, Gates sold his commission in the regular army and moved to New York.  The sale of his commission gave him enough money to establish a new life for himself.  When General Braddock came to America in 1755, Gates joined the expedition to Fort Pitt, along with all the other kids who would grow up to be famous: Thomas Gage, Charles Lee, Adam Stephen, Daniel Morgan, Daniel Boone, and George Washington.  Gates was wounded at the Battle of the Monongahela but recovered and returned to service.  He continued to serve as a regular officer in the Seven Years war, fighting in North America and in the West Indies.  At the end of the war, Gates had risen to the rank of Major.  In 1769, he sold his Major’s Commission and purchased a small plantation in Virginia.  There, he renewed his friendship with George Washington.

In 1775, when Congress appointed Washington as Commander in Chief, he requested that Gates also be named a General in the new Continental Army.  Gates became the Army’s first Adjutant General.  While Gates did well at his job, it was mostly paperwork, not the sort of thing that gets you much glory.  As an experienced officer, Gates pushed for an independent command.

In May 1776, after Washington had moved from Boston to New York, Congress promoted Gates to major general, and in June assigned him the independent command of the Northern Army.  Unfortunately for Gates, his independent command was not quite as independent as he had hoped.  General Schuyler, his senior, remained in overall command of the region.  In the past, Congress had bypassed Schuyler by leaving him in command of forces in upstate New York, but left other generals, first Montgomery, then Wooster, then Thomas, then Sullivan, in charge of the forces engaged in actual combat in Canada.

Lake Champlain Region (from Wikimedia)
To get his promotion, Gates had gone to Philadelphia to lobby for the independent command.  In doing so, he heavily criticized Schuyler’s performance as the commander.  Congress promoted Gates to major general and gave him command of the Continental Army in Canada.

The problem was that by the time Gates arrived in upstate New York, the Patriot forces in Canada had already retreated back into New York.  There, they came under the authority of General Schuyler.  As a result, Gates effectively became Schuyler’s second in command.  Gates, was of course upset that his independent command now became subordinate to Schuyler’s command.  He immediately began a letter writing campaign to his friends in Congress to undercut Schuyler’s reputation, and with the apparent intent of having Schuyler relieved so that he could take command.

The two men began bickering with one another, and dividing politicians as well as the army into team Schuyler and team Gates.  New England politicians tended to favor Gates, based on his military experience with the regular army.  New Yorkers tended to favor Schuyler, who had the senior rank and experience in the region.

Protecting Lake Champlain

Amazingly, General Benedict Arnold, who typically got along with no one, seemed to have pretty good working relationships with both men.  Unfortunately, his failure to pick a side would cause him problems down the road.  But for now, on this one issue at least, Arnold was often the voice of diplomacy and reason.

Although he was an army general, Arnold had made himself the naval commander of Lake Champlain.  He commanded a few large ships, the Enterprise, and Liberty which he had captured right after the fall of Ticonderoga.  He also had the Royal Savage which General Montgomery had captured with the fall of St. Jean.  His troops were still building the Revenge near Ticonderoga.  He had four large row galley ships: the Washington, Congress, Trumbull, and Gates, as well as a smaller one, the Lee.  Then he had eight smaller Gondolas.  All the ships had mounted cannon and would certainly harass and threaten any British ships that moved onto the lake.

Court Martial of Moses Hazen

With a lull in the fighting during the summer, the northern army took some time to take care of some delayed business.  In late July, it held courts martial for Colonel Bedel and Major Butterfield for their behavior at the Battle of the Cedars back in May.  Both men were found guilty and cashiered.

That same month the court martial of Moses Hazen threatened to disrupt the entire army.  You may recall that Hazen was a local Canadian.  He had tried to play both sides after the patriots had invaded Canada.  But after the British arrested him and he escaped, he decided to stick with the patriots.  He received a commission as colonel and raised a patriot regiment from among his fellow Canadians.

For some time, General Arnold seemed to have a good opinion of Hazen.  That changed after the Battle of the Cedars, where Arnold thought Hazen not aggressive enough, possibly even a coward.  Worse, Hazen disobeyed Arnold’s orders to destroy the property of some who had cooperated with the British and Indian attack at the Cedars.  Hazen believed that such destruction might have created more enemies for the army than they could handle.

General Benedict Arnold
(from Wikimedia)
But the issue that led to the court martial was Hazen’s refusal to accept property that Arnold had sent to his care after the retreat from Montreal.  Arnold had promised the Montreal merchants, on his personal honor, that they would receive payment for their property, which the army needed.  Arnold had an officer carry the property to Hazen, who refused to accept it.  The officer ended up leaving all the supplies by the side of the river, where soldiers looted and took what they wanted.

Arnold was livid at this insubordination.  Congress had left Arnold on the hook for stuff like this before.  He would feel honor bound to repay the merchants, but would not get reimbursement from Congress if he could not account for the property.  It was also another example of Arnold’s subordinate officers simply ignoring his orders.

Arnold attempted to empanel a court martial against Hazen in early July.  Hazen protested to General Gates who ordered Arnold not to proceed.  Arnold had apparently selected all of the officers on the court martial himself, and had selected junior officers, even though Colonel Hazen had a right to be judged by field officers (major or higher).  Gates told Arnold to cut it out, but allowed a proper court martial to be empaneled a few days later to hear charges against Hazen for neglect of duty.

The problem with the new court martial, headed by Colonel Enoch Poor, was that just about every officer on the court absolutely hated Arnold and was friends with Hazen.  The Court refused even to hear testimony from the officer whom Arnold had ordered to drop off the property to Hazen and who was pretty much the only witness who could testify to Hazen’s refusal to obey Arnold’s orders to take possession of the property.  They claimed the witness was an interested party, which, so what? Lots of witnesses have some interest in the case in favor of one side or the other.  But the court martial did not even say what that interest was.  The court also refused to give Arnold adequate time to track down other witnesses to the events in question.

Instead, the court unanimously found in favor of Hazen and acquitted him.  This caused Arnold to lodge a protest with the court, suggesting that the court had erred in its decision not to hear critical testimony and in its finding.  He demanded that the entire proceedings be sent to the Continental Congress for a final decision.

The court could have walked away with its acquittal of Hazen and let Arnold have his temper tantrum.  But, remember, the officers on the court hated Arnold and figured they could use the power of the court against him by demanding he apologize for insulting the integrity of the court martial.  Of course, Arnold refused to apologize for what he saw as simply calling them out on their bias and improper procedures.  Not only did he refuse to apologize, he made clear he would be happy to face any of them in a duel if they would like the satisfaction.

This led to a flurry of letters and petitions to General Gates, the court insisting that Arnold face contempt charges, and from Arnold demanding the kangaroo court be dissolved and have his charges against Hazen sent to Congress.  Gates must have shaken his head in disbelief when he received all these papers.  The British Army was on the brink of attacking down Lake Champlain and destroying what remained of the Continental force.  Meanwhile, his top field officer is whining about a biased court martial and the court wants him to lock up his top general for insulting their honor.

Gates tried to dispose of the matter as best he could.  He approved the court’s acquittal of Hazen, and also made clear he was not going to let them pursue charges against Arnold.  They had already wasted several weeks on this issue when they should be preparing to defend against an attack.  We are not locking up our best field officer because someone thinks he insulted their honor. Gates sent records of all of this to Congress, but for now guys, let’s focus on the enemy and not each other.

Wynkoop Dispute

With the court martial arguments behind him in August, Arnold could resume command of his fleet on Lake Champlain.  Except, he couldn’t.  Arnold faced another challenge.  While he was in Canada, Schuyler had appointed Jacobus Wynkoop commander of the fleet on Lake Champlain.  When Arnold started giving orders, Winkoop sent him a note saying he was still in command of the fleet, and why was Arnold issuing orders to move his ships around. Arnold, sent a rather snippy note back to Wynkoop letting him know that Schuyler had returned Arnold to command of the fleet. Wynkoop ignored that and continued to assume command.  He countermanded Arnold’s orders and issued more of his own.

American fleet on Lake Champlain (from Wikimedia)
Arnold sent a note to Gates about the problem and vented his frustrations about no one respecting the chain of command.  Gates used the issue as an opportunity to bash Schuyler, by ordering Schuyler’s appointed commander Wynkoop to be arrested and imprisoned for his refusal to cede command to Arnold.  Once Arnold sent off Wynkoop in chains, he softened his view and did not seek to go through with a court martial.  Instead, he recommended that Wynkoop be allowed to leave the theater and plead his case to Congress.  I suspect this softening was to prevent the pissing contest between Schuyler and Gates from blowing up everything.  In any event, Arnold now had undisputed command of his fleet.

Arnold would have nearly another two months before Carleton was ready to unleash his fleet on Lake Champlain.  So we will get to that fight a few weeks from now.

Next Week: We return to New York where Gen. Howe is finally ready to end his pause, and begin his assault on Manhattan Island.

- - -

Next Episode 107: Kip's Bay and Harlem Heights

Previous  Episode 105: Staten Island Peace Conference

Click here to donate
American Revolution Podcast is distributed 100% free of charge. If you can chip in to help defray my costs, I'd appreciate whatever you can give.  Make a one time donation through my PayPal account. 
Mike Troy

Click here to see my Patreon Page
You can support the American Revolution Podcast as a Patreon subscriber.  This is an option for people who want to make monthly pledges.  Patreon support will give you access to Podcast extras and help make the podcast a sustainable project.  Thanks again!

Further Reading


Burgoyne, John Thoughts for Conducting the War from the side of Canada;view=fulltext

Guy Carleton biography:

John Burgoyne biography:

Horatio Gates biography:

Petition of Jacobus Wynkoop:

Seelinger, Matthew Buying Time: The Battle of Valcour Island, July 16, 2014:

Free eBooks
(from unless noted)

Carrington, Henry B. Battles of the American Revolution, 1775-1781, A.S. Barnes & Co, 1876.

Codman, John Arnold’s Expedition To Quebec,  New York, MacMillan Co., 1901..

Force, Peter American Archives, Series 5, Vol 3, M. St. Claire Clarks, 1837.

Hill, George Benedict Arnold: A Biography, Boston: E.O. Libby & Co. 1858.

Kingsford, William The History of Canada, Vol. 6,  Toronto: Roswell & Hutchinson, 1887.

Smith, Justin Our Struggle for the Fourteenth Colony: Canada, and the American Revolution, Vol. 2, New York: G.P. Putnam's Sons, 1907.

Books Worth Buying
(links to unless otherwise noted)*

Brown, Gerald Saxon, The American Secretary: The Colonial Policy of Lord George Germain, 1775-1778, Univ. of Michigan Press, 1963.

Fleming, Thomas 1776: Year of Illusions, W.W. Norton & Co., 1975.

Hatch, Robert Thrust for Canada, Houghton-Mifflin, 1979.

Martin, James Benedict Arnold: Revolutionary Hero, NYU Press, 1997.

O'Shaughnessy, Andrew J. The Men Who Lost America: British Leadership, the American Revolution, and the Fate of the Empire, Yale Univ. Press, 2013.

Randall, Willard Benedict Arnold: Patriot and Traitor, William Morrow & Co. 1990.

* As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

Sunday, July 14, 2019

Episode 105: Staten Island Peace Conference

After General Howe conquered Brooklyn and Long Island, he decided to take a couple of weeks before invading Manhattan Island, at the time, often called York City.  Howe did not want to crush the colonials.  His invasion of Long Island had proven to the colonists that they could not stand up to his forces.  Rather than shed more blood, Howe looked for a way to get the rebels to surrender and put an end to all of this.

Gen. Howe Celebrated

Howe, of course, intended to take Manhattan.  It was only a question of whether the Continental Army would surrender before or after the British moved into the city.  Howe’s pause was an attempt to end things without further demonstration of the destructive power of his army.

During this pause, General Howe sent back his report of the defeat of the Americans on Long Island.  He did not go out of his way to emphasize Washington’s amazing escape, so London celebrated the victory as a vindication of the plan to use overwhelming force.  The King made General Howe a Knight of the Bath and promised the conquering hero other rewards when he returned home victorious.  So, congratulations to William Howe becoming “Sir William.”  Of course, Howe would not learn of this honor for months, but it shows just how ready officials in London were to receive some good news and name a hero.

Howe Brothers as Peace Delegates

General Howe, seemed less interested in military victories than in being a diplomat who could heal the political differences between Britain and the colonies.  Remember, both of the Howe brothers were Whig members of Parliament who generally supported a policy of accommodation with the colonies.  Neither of them had wanted the war.  General Howe had even promised his constituents in the last election that he would not serve in America.  Howe obviously broke this promise.  His stated reasoning was that if the King called on him to go, he really could not refuse.

General William Howe
(from Wikimedia)
That actually was not entirely true.  Howe was 112th in rank and seniority at the time. A great many of those ahead of him were too old or infirm to command troops overseas.  But a great many also simply demurred and told the ministry they did not want to serve in America.  They did not want to snuff out the rights of their fellow Englishmen.  Crushing a rebellion of British subjects was not popular in England.  While a solid majority in Parliament supported military action, a substantial minority did not.  Even among those leaders who supported military action, few wanted to be remembered for crushing such a rebellion.  No one wanted to be remembered as the Butcher of Boston or the Butcher of New York or wherever the final showdown occurred.  Therefore, many generals simply found excuses not to go to America.

While the Howe brothers were sympathetic to that view, they decided that if they went, they could perhaps prevent a wholesale slaughter of colonists in order to instill fear and obedience. They knew they would need to use military force, but hoped they could negotiate a peaceful solution once the colonists saw that force and realized they could not resist it.

One of General Howe’s constituents wrote him to criticize his decision to deploy to America in violation of his campaign promise.  In his response, Howe indicates his views in more detail:
One word for America: you are deceived if you suppose there are not many loyal and peaceable subjects in that country. I may safely assert that the insurgents are very few, in comparison of the whole people … With respect to the few, who, I am told, desire to separate themselves from the Mother Country, I trust, when they find they are not supported in their frantic ideas by the more moderate, which I have described, they will, from fear of punishment, subside to the laws.
In other words, a radical minority had somehow pushed an agenda that America should be independent of England. The majority of colonists were simply suffering under the tyranny of those radical local leaders.  When the military asserted control in the colonies, the moderates would be free to express themselves and the radical leaders would have no choice but to back down.

Historians have long debated what Gen. Howe’s true motives were in prosecuting the war.  They point to numerous instances where Howe had the enemy within his grasp and simply allowed it to escape.  Washington’s escape from Brooklyn to Manhattan, which I discussed a couple of weeks ago is one example.  Another will happen Howe will let the Continentals slip out of Manhattan that I will discuss in an upcoming episode.  There are still more examples we will see as his army chases the Continentals across New Jersey and fails to take Philadelphia.

Some have argued that Howe never really wanted to win, that he supported a common Whig notion of the colonies getting at least semi-independence from Britain.  In a letter to Germain before the New York campaign began, Howe said that an early decisive battle was critical to British victory.  Without such a victory, the colonists would never submit to British sovereignty.
It is most likely that they [the Patriots] will act on the defensive, by having recourse to strong intrenched situations, in order to spin out the campaign, if possible, without exposing themselves to any decisive stroke.
So why didn’t Howe push hard for a decisive stroke at New York before pausing for his peace conference?  Some think the answer is that he really did not want to win.

I don’t think that is the case.  One reason much of this is a mystery is that Howe’s personal papers were destroyed in a fire in the early 1800’s, before historians could dig into them.  So his real motives are probably lost forever.

A more plausible theory for me though is that Howe was shaken by the loss at Bunker Hill.  At that time, General Gage was still overall commander, but Howe led the charge on the hill that day.  The massive losses, especially among his officers, left a long held impression that he should not simply rush into colonial defenses. Although speed and surprise could be effective in battle, they greatly added to the risk of loss.  Howe did not want to see a massive loss of officers and men that he could not easily replace.

Howe also wanted to impress the colonists with the idea that the regular army was invincible.  Moving more slowly and allowing time for logistics and planning might also allow for the enemy to escape.  But having the Continentals run away from the regulars was better than creating even a small risk of a Continental victory.  If regulars got too spread out while pursuing a retreating enemy, they set themselves up for ambush.  Even a relatively minor win could destroy the impression of inevitability that Howe wanted to convey.

Therefore, Howe moved his army slowly and methodically, pushing back the enemy and always stopping to ask if they had had enough and were ready to talk peace.

Admiral Richard Howe was even more eager to negotiate a peace than his brother William.  Admiral and General Howe both worked closely and regularly discussed diplomatic initiatives.  Richard had insisted on being named a peace commissioner before he agreed to take command of the fleet in America.  He had wanted to be a one man commission, but the ministry insisted on having other commissioners.  They did not necessarily trust the Admiral not to give away too much.  Admiral Howe, though, was not interested in working with others. After considerable and heated negotiations they settled on naming Gen. William Howe as the only other commissioner.  Admiral Howe could hardly fight having his own brother on the commission.

Admiral Richard Howe
(from Wikimedia)
A few weeks ago, I mentioned that even before the British captured Brooklyn, Admiral Howe had sent a letter to General Washington calling for peace talks.  Washington had refused that letter because Howe refused to address it to him as “general.”  This was not simply ego.  It was that Washington had no desire to discuss peace with Howe.  He knew that Howe could not address him as “general” without implicitly recognizing the legitimacy of the Continental Congress, which gave Washington that commission.  Even after Howe got a messenger to meet with Washington in person, Washington made clear that he had no authority nor desire to talk about any sort of settlement.  The Howes, therefore, decided the colonials needed a little more demonstration of British power, and went ahead with his invasion.

The relatively easy invasion of Long Island showed that the so-called Continental Army and the militia were no match for the British regulars.  Loyalists were already beginning to emerge around New York, just at Howe expected.  If the radical leaders in the so-called Continental Congress would see that, perhaps they would be willing to back down and return as loyal subjects, as long as they received pardon for their misguided actions over the previous couple of years.  Howe decided to see his capture of Long Island was enough, and tried once again to discuss peace terms.

Sullivan Carries a Message

The British army had captured several Continental generals among its prisoners from the battle of Long Island.  On August 28, even before Washington had made his escape from Long Island, the Howes invited two of their prisoners, Generals John Sullivan and Lord Stirling to dine with them.  The British had captured both officers in Brooklyn.  The men discussed the course of events and whether they would carry a message to the Continental Congress calling for a Peace Conference.  Now that the Howes had proven they could crush the Continental Army whenever they wanted, they hoped to avoid further bloodshed by getting the Continental Congress to give up on all this independence nonsense and accept the sovereignty of the King and Parliament.

General John Sullivan
(from Wikimedia)
Gen. Stirling refused to cooperate with the enemy, but Gen. Sullivan seemed convinced, at least enough to deliver their message to Congress. Admiral Howe released Sullivan on parole and allowed him to return to the American lines in New York.  There, Sullivan met with Gen. Washington and received permission to go to Congress to deliver Admiral Howe’s message.  Washington still adamantly believed that peace negotiations were foolish.  He also thought Sullivan was naive to think the British would ever offer a negotiated settlement with any acceptable terms.

But the negotiation process apparently put further British attacks on hold and gave Washington time to shore up his defenses in New York.  Also, the decision for peace talks was one that Congress should make, not him.  So, Washington sent Sullivan to Philadelphia to deliver Howe’s message.

Sullivan arrived in Philadelphia on September 2.  He met with Congress to discuss the possibility of a peace conference. By now, Sullivan’s reputation had sunk pretty low.  Not only had he lost Canada, and then lost in battle on Long Island, but he had agreed to cooperate with the enemy in arranging this supposed peace conference.  Some members of Congress accused Sullivan of being a dupe for Howe’s plan to kill American independence.

After delivering his message, Sullivan could not return to the army.  Under the terms of his parole, he had to wait until the Americans returned a British general of the same rank in exchange for him.  Congress had to release British General Richard Prescott, who had become an American prisoner nearly a year earlier with the fall of Montreal, before Sullivan could return to active duty.

Peace Delegation

Congress debated whether to send a delegation to Howe’s proposed peace conference.  Many argued the conference would simply work to divide people against the war effort.  In the end though, Congress did not think it could reject the proposal for a meeting.  Congress voted to send a delegation made up of John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, and Edward Rutledge.  All three men were hardcore patriots who were not likely to find much common ground with the British diplomats.  Adams especially considered the whole affair as a distraction from the war and an attempt to divide moderates, who were losing nerve in the face of the large British military force at New York.

Franklin, Adams, and Rutledge confer with
Admiral Howe. (from Wikimedia)
Even if they wanted to, the delegation did not have any authority it make any agreements.  The members could listen to what Howe had to say, ask questions, and report back to Congress.

On September 9, the delegation left Philadelphia for New York.  Along the way, the delegates had to stay overnight in New Brunswick New Jersey.  The inn was so full, that Adams and Franklin had to share a bed. They apparently got into a fight over whether or not to leave the window open at night.  For diplomats, they seemed to have difficulty even getting along with each other.

They arrived two days later on September 11, where they took a British-controlled ferry from New Jersey to Staten Island. They met a delegation of British officers under a flag of truce.  The delegation planned to leave one officer with the Americans as a hostage to guarantee their safe return.  Adams told Franklin he thought the idea was absurd, and requested that the officer return with them to Admiral Howe.

Billop House Summit

Admiral Howe met with Congressional delegates.  His brother General Howe did not participate.  The Admiral hosted the meeting at the home of a Tory named Christopher Billop on Long Island.  A Hessian guard unit had been living in the house for some time and it was a smelly mess.  Howe had his men do their best to clean up the house in a hurry, and put out a meal for the delegates.

Howe was apparently greatly impressed that the Congressional delegates had returned with their hostage, thus indicating that they trusted Howe’s honor to return them safely.  That, however, was probably the high point of the meeting.

When Howe learned that the delegation did not have authority to agree to anything, he considered ending the negotiations right away.  But since he really wanted to see if the talks had any possibility of leading anywhere, he continued the discussion.

The next hurdle was that Howe insisted on meeting with the men as private citizens, not recognizing them as a delegation from the Continental Congress since that body was an illegal assembly without any valid authority.  But the delegates insisted that they represented Congress and Howe, again, allowed the discussions to proceed.

Howe and Franklin had discussed possible resolutions before when Franklin was still living in London.  Howe pointed out that the ministry would agree to end all direct colonial taxes if the colonies would tax themselves to raise the money that the empire needed.  This was the essence of the Conciliatory Resolution that Parliament had passed a year earlier, and which Congress had rejected.

Rutledge then asked if Howe had authority to cancel the Prohibitory Act, which banned all Colonial transatlantic trade.  Howe noted that he could not void an Act of Parliament, but that he could suspend enforcement if the Americans ceased hostilities.  Since Howe could not offer anything of substance, other than agreeing not to hang everybody, any settlement would require that the colonies surrender, then wait to hear what terms London would give them.  That was simply a nonstarter for the delegates.

Billop House, Staten Island (from Wikimedia)
The delegates insisted that there could be no negotiations until London recognized American independence.  Franklin told Howe that there had been too much war and devastation for the colonies to return to the empire as the King’s subjects.  Howe knew that independence was a non-starter in London.

Although Franklin knew this would not go anywhere, he made the case for British acceptance of independence.  The United States were growing into a major force in their own right, and no longer trusted British rule.  The only way Britain might maintain control, would be to keep a large and expensive standing army in the colonies that would only impoverish both countries.  If Britain accepted independence, it could resume trade with America, receiving the goods and raw materials that benefited the British people.

Howe attempted to express sympathy for the American cause, but saw the only solution as some acceptable submission to the King.  Howe emphasized though, that he really thought he had the best interests of the colonies at heart.  At one point Howe said “If America should faile, I should feel and lament it like the loss of a brother.”  To that, Franklin responded “My Lord, we shall do our utmost endeavors to save your Lordship that mortification.

The men talked cordially for about three hours, enjoying a few glasses of wine and a nice dinner together.  But it was obvious to all, that there was no common ground for negotiation.  Given that Howe could not make any political concessions and that the Congressional delegation made clear that they would accept nothing less than independence, the war would have to continue.

Peace Talks End

Howe returned the delegation back to New Jersey and, with his brother, drafted a joint report for Secretary George Germain back in London.  They noted that the Americans still insisted on recognition of independence.  For officials in London, this seemed like a joke.  When the King’s forces crush you in battle, you submit.  You don’t continue to insist on getting your way.  Clearly, the army had to continue to smash at the rebellion until its leaders got the point.

Similarly, the delegates reported back to Congress that Howe had zero authority to grant any political concessions.  Continued talks were pointless.  Adams wrote to his wife that Admiral Howe’s notion that Americans were ready to submit to the King only showed that “his head is rather confused.

The conference seemed to vindicate Howe’s political opponents.  If Britain planned to win, it needed to have less friendly conversations and more military victories.  Howe had seemed certain he could find a political solution to end the violence, but was clearly out of his league as a diplomat, or at least long overtaken by events.

While the delegates had not ever thought the conference would accomplish anything, they at least got to make their point and bought several weeks for Washington to reorganize his defenses in New York.  Of course the Howes were not worried about giving Washington more time.  They believed, correctly as it turned out, that they could push aside those defenses at any time of their choosing.

The talks did have one negative for the Americans.  In Paris, Silas Deane was still working to bring the French on board and to supply the Americans with arms and ammunition.  When word reached Paris that the British and Americans were in peace talks, the French immediately suspended covert assistance.  They were not going to risk a war with Britain if the colonies were going to turn around and make nice.  Fortunately, a few days later, Paris received word that nothing had come of the talks, and aid resumed.

Next Week:  A whole different Continental Army in the North attempts to stop the British in Canada from launching a second invasion of New York.

- - -

Next Episode 106: Arms Race on Lake Champlain

Previous Episode 104: Submarine Warfare

Click here to donate
American Revolution Podcast is distributed 100% free of charge. If you can chip in to help defray my costs, I'd appreciate whatever you can give.  Make a one time donation through my PayPal account. 
Mike Troy

Click here to see my Patreon Page
You can support the American Revolution Podcast as a Patreon subscriber.  This is an option for people who want to make monthly pledges.  Patreon support will give you access to Podcast extras and help make the podcast a sustainable project.  Thanks again!

Further Reading


Lord Howe’s Conference with the Committee of Congress:

A Tale of Two Declarations:

Lord Howe Letter to Benjamin Franklin June 20, 1776 (sent July 12):

Benjamin Franklin letter to Lord Howe July 20, 1776:

Lord Howe Letter to Benjamin Franklin Sept. 10, 1776

Free eBooks
(from unless noted)

The Detail and Conduct of the American War, under Generals Gage, Howe, Burgoyne, and Vice Admiral Lord Howe, (original reports and letters) (1780)

Barrow, John The Life of Richard, Earl Howe, Admiral of the Fleet and General of Marines, London: John Murray, 1838.

Force, Peter American Archives, Series 5, Vol 2, Washington: St. Claire Clarke, 1837.

Force, Peter American Archives, Series 5, Vol 3, Washington: St. Claire Clarke, 1837.

Books Worth Buying
(links to unless otherwise noted)*

Daughan, George C. Revolution on the Hudson: New York City and the Hudson River Valley in the American War of Independence, New York: W.W. Norton & Co. 2016.

Ellis, Joseph Revolutionary Summer: The Birth of American Independence, New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2013.

Fleming, Thomas 1776: Year of Illusions, New York: W.W. Norton & Co., 1975.

Gallagher, John J. Battle Of Brooklyn, 1776,  Da Capo Press, 1995.

Isaacson, Walter Benjamin Franklin: An American Life, New York: Simon & Schuster, 2004.

McCullough, David 1776, New York: Simon & Schuster, 2005.

McCullough, David John Adams, New York: Simon & Schuster, 2001.

McGuire, Thomas J. Stop the Revolution: America in the Summer of Independence and the Conference for Peace, Stackpole Books, 2011 (book recommendation of the week).

Schecter, Barnet The Battle for New York, New York: Walker Publishing, 2002.

Syrett, David Admiral Lord Howe: A Biography, Naval Institute Press, 2005

* As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.