Sunday, September 15, 2019

Episode 114 Escape from Fort Lee




Last week, the Continental Army suffered what would be its worst lost in the first five years of the war.  The British took the last 3000 Continentals on Manhattan Island when they captured Fort Washington.  In terms of American losses, this was by far the greatest American loss up to this point in the war.

General George Washington took responsibility for the loss, but said his failure was that he relied on too heavily on the advice of his more junior officers, not mentioning in his report to Congress that he was on site three days before the attack began.  Others smelled blood in the water.  General Charles Lee, now second in command in the Continental Army after Artemus Ward resigned earlier in the year, attacked Washington and his leadership.

In a letter to Benjamin Rush, Pennsylvania delegate to the Continental Congress, Lee said that he had predicted the fall of Fort Washington and that he had left Washington saying “draw off the garrison, or they will be lost.”  There is, however, no evidence that Lee ever said that to Washington.  In fact, everything I’ve read about Lee in the days and weeks before the fall of Fort Washington said that he strongly supported reinforcing and defending Fort Washington. Lee seemed to think, probably correctly, that as Washington fell out of favor, he might be tapped to become the new commander of the Continental Army.

British ships passing between Forts Washington and Lee
(from Wikimedia)
He continued, in his letter to Rush, that he could probably save the day if Congress would give him dictatorial powers for just one week.  Then he bemoaned that this would probably never happen.  That final thought was correct.  Congress may have lost some faith in Washington, but certainly did not want a would-be dictator in command of the army.  Congress feared losing control of its own army almost as much as it feared losing to the British regulars.

Whatever the fallout was going to be over the loss, there was no time for recriminations in the days that followed.  The Continentals may have hoped that the British would not begin an invasion of New Jersey so late in the fighting season.  But that was not to be.

General Howe was uncharacteristically fast in following up his victory at Fort Washington with an assault on Fort Lee on the other side of the river in New Jersey. On the evening of November 19, only three days after Fort Washington fell, a contingent of about 5000 British and Hessians crossed the Hudson River at night.

Lord Cornwallis

Howe gave field command of British and Hessian forces in New Jersey to General Charles Cornwallis, Lord Cornwallis.  Now, I’ve mentioned Cornwallis a few times now, and he may be the best known British general in the American Revolution even though he never rose to Commander of North America.  His fame in the Revolution comes from his surrender at Yorktown, which effectively ended the war (sorry if that’s a spoiler).

I first mentioned Cornwallis back in Episode 82, when he came over from Ireland with reinforcements.  His first mission was as General Clinton’s second in command.  He participated in the failed attempt to capture Sullivan’s island in the harbor at Charleston South Carolina.  I somehow neglected to give him a background, despite his active leadership in the British invasions of Long Island and Manhattan. Since this is Cornwallis’ first independent command, it’s as good a time as any for a little background.
Lord Cornwallis
(from Wikimedia)

Charles Cornwallis was born in London in 1738 to an aristocratic family.  His father was an earl.  Like many aristocratic families whose heads served in the House of Lords, his family also controlled a seat in the House of Commons.  The Cornwallis family had controlled the seat for over 300 years.  Charles attended Eton College before buying a commission as an ensign in 1757, just after the Seven Years War began.  Despite the war, nineteen year old Cornwallis continued military studies on the Continent under Prussian officers, and at the military academy in Turin, in what is today Italy.  He did finally see action the battle of Minden in 1759. Shortly after that, he purchased a captaincy and received a brevet to Lieutenant Colonel  He led a regiment in several more European battles in the remaining latter part of the Seven Years War.

While away at war, his family saw to it that he got elected to the family seat in the House of Commons in 1761.  When his father died the following year, Charles inherited his title as earl, and moved from the House of Commons to the House of Lords.  Cornwallis’ politics were very pro-colonist.  He allied with the more radical whigs and voted accordingly  He was one of only five lords to vote against the Stamp Act in 1765.  He was a close ally of Lord Rockingham, who was the most pro-colonial Prime Minister of the era.

Despite his opposition to royal policies in Parliament, Cornwallis remained in the Kings good graces. He received a number of political appointments, including the Privy Council in 1770 and as constable of the Tower of London in 1771.  Part of this may be explained by the fact that, although Cornwallis voted with the radicals, he did not give long and contentious speeches against policies that the king favored.

In addition to politics, Cornwallis remained active in the military.  He received a commission as major general in late 1775, just before shipping out to America.  Cornwallis’ inherited wealth and position meant that he could have lived a comfortable life without having to serve in the army.  He did so out of a sense of duty.  He was also known as a commander who did not mind mixing with enlisted men and getting them motivated.  Many general officers at the time kept a strict distance from enlisted men.  Cornwallis was also a commander known for not relying on brutal lashings to maintain discipline.  Of course he used such punishments at times, but found that appealing to a unit’s sense of honor and pride often led to better results.  In this, he was forward-thinking and commanded some of the most highly disciplined and effective regiments in the army.

Cornwallis also took his duty as an officer seriously.  Although in the House of Lords Cornwallis had aligned politically with the colonists, when war broke out, he was determined that he would do his duty and crush the rebellion.  He volunteered to serve under Clinton in South Carolina and continued in that service in the multiple battles to capture New York.  Despite serving under Clinton, Cornwallis had won the trust of General Howe, who gave him the independent command in New Jersey.

Cornwallis would pursue Washington with an aggressiveness that Washington had not yet experienced.  Washington had to fight a rearguard action to keep the British in check long enough to keep his men on the move toward Philadelphia.  As Howe wanted, Cornwallis doggedly pushed the Continentals back, but never attempted to encircle and capture the enemy army.

Fall of Fort Lee

Along the New Jersey side of the Hudson River, the Continentals had posted guards by the river to prevent an uncontested landing.  But they left gaps in their lines.  One of them was at the cliffs just a few miles north of Fort Lee called Lower Closter Landing.  The Americans thought that would be an impossible landing point for the enemy.  With the assistance of three New Jersey Tories, the British learned of a trail led up the cliffs that the army could use.  It was only about four feet wide, over wet, slippery, and sometimes pretty steep rocks.  But the army could ascend there, without alerting the enemy.

British ascending the NJ cliffs at Lower Closter Landing
(from Wikimedia)
One Hessian soldier who participated in landing noted that a few men armed only with rocks could have stopped the entire advance on that trail.  But there were no guards at all.  The landing force climbed up to the top of the cliff, about 440 feet above the river, and assembled their lines of battle before dawn, completely undiscovered.  By the morning of November 20, the engineers had built lifts out of wood and rope that allowed them to pull up several small field artillery pieces to accompany the infantry.  Even without confronting any enemy, the pace was slow.  The soldiers struggled to get men, cannon, and other equipment up the treacherous cliff during a heavy rain that fell through the night and morning.

After the British had established a perimeter, and began sending out scouting parties, the locals discovered their presence in New Jersey.  General Washington received an alert to the presence on the New Jersey side of the river sometime that morning. This time there was no indecision about what to do.  Fort Lee was not built to defend against a large assault by land.  The fort walls were simply dirt embankments surrounding a small area about 250 square feet.  It had never been designed to withstand an assault or siege of any size.  The fort was built to provide support to the cannon along the Hudson River and little else.

Washington immediately sent notice to evacuate the 2000 man garrison in and around Fort Lee. Most of the garrison still there were local militia. Fort Lee was even less defensible and smaller than Fort Washington.  General Washington could not afford to have another huge chunk of his army taken prisoner.

Before receiving word of the crossing, the American forces did not seem to be on very high alert.  General Nathanael Greene was sleeping in that morning when an express messenger rode into the fort to alert him of the imminent attack.  Greene had been spending the past few days trying to remove munitions and provisions just in case the British would attack.  After losing so much at Fort Washington, the Continentals could not afford to risk the loss of more munitions and supplies.  Unfortunately, the lack of horses and wagons made the attempt to remove supplies in a timely fashion impossible.

By the time word reached the fort, the British were almost on top of them.  Cornwallis had assembled a force of 5000 British and Hessian soldiers into two columns by 1 PM.  He ordered his army ahead at the quick time on the six mile march to Fort Lee.

American Defenses on the Hudson (from Wikimedia)
The scene at the fort was one of chaos. Some men chose to ignore the news and continued eating breakfast.  Others dropped everything and fled into the woods.  Still others thought this was a good time to break into the fort’s stores and begin looting, particularly the rum.

General Greene managed to get most of the garrison into two columns and march toward where Washington was waiting a few miles from the fort.  After getting the bulk of the garrison to Washington, Green returned to the fort to gather more stragglers.  In getting the men away, the Continentals abandoned the massive stockpile of guns, ammunition, tents, and food still stored at the fort.  There was no time to pack up any wagons, even if they had wagons.

The British arrived to find the fort almost empty.  They captured about 100 stragglers.  Most were not in the fort itself, but hiding in the forest nearby, some passed out from drunkenness after breaking into the stores of rum left behind. None of the remaining defenders fired a shot.  The attackers found food still cooking on fires as the defenders had fled so rapidly.

The Hessians saw the dust cloud of the retreating army a few miles away toward Hackensack.  They started to pursue and harass the retreating column, but General Cornwallis ordered them back.  They were under orders to take the fort, not to pursue the enemy any further.  The 2000 man garrison from Fort Lee, joined by another 2000 men who had been in the field under Washington, all retreated together, back to Hackensack, where they collapsed for the night.  Washington posted sentries along the Hackensack River, but the British did not pursue them.

The fall of Fort Lee meant another embarrassing loss for Washington.  He had not lost a large number of men.  His failure, however, to secure a timely evacuation of arms and supplies meant another loss of items the army desperately needed, not only for battle but even just to keep an army in the field.  The British reported capturing cannon, munitions, tons of forage, flour, and biscuits.  Not satisfied with the windfall, the British and Hessians raided nearby estates, looting more items and capturing over 1000 head of cattle.

Pursuit Across New Jersey

Washington watched the remnants of his army stagger into camp after dark and under a light rain. Soldiers who remained with the army had to endure the cold November nights without winter uniforms, blankets, tents, or even much food.  Many militia simply gave up and went home.  Most others figured the end was near.  Although 2000 from Fort Lee met up with Washington’s contingent of about 2000 in Hackensack, Washington reported a few days later that his force was at most 3000 men, meaning the rest had deserted.

The next morning, November 21, the first British and Hessian forces approached Hackensack. They were met with return fire from the Continental lines.  The British had expected that the Americans would simply continue to run as they approached.  But the Americans held the line at the Hackensack River.

Movements across NY and NJ
(from Wikimedia)
Rather than press an attack, Cornwallis opted to wait and bring up reinforcements.  He paused for a few days awaiting additional units which would give him a total of over 10,000 soldiers to pursue the Americans.  While he waited, the Americans gave up the town and retreated further south in good order.

The Continentals pulled back to the Passaic River.  There they put up another defensive line.  Washington could not stand against the superior British force against him, but he could force them to fight for every piece of ground that they took.  The Continentals crossed the Passaic River over the Acquackanonk Bridge.  Once across, they destroyed the bridge in hopes of slowing down their pursuers.

In British occupied Hackensack, the locals initially greeted the British and Hessians as liberators.  But the Hessians especially began looting the town. General Cornwallis focused on building up stocks of food for his army.  This quickly put a stop to the political goal of getting the locals back to supporting the King.  Even without this behavior, as the British moved further south and away from New York, they found the locals to be increasingly hostile.

General Howe was fairly content.  He now had full control of Manhattan.  The capture of Forts Washington and Lee gave him a few more victories to report back to London.  Cornwallis was slowly but steadily pushing the enemy out of New Jersey, thus liberating another colony for the King.  As the Howe Brothers began thinking about settling into winter quarters, they felt they had accomplished most of what they wanted.  They had proven the Americans could not stand up to the British Army, which seemed to be able to move about at will.  The winter would give the Americans time to think about their predicament.  They would probably be ready to sue for peace before another campaign would begin in the spring.

Cornwallis, however, in his first independent command, was not ready to shut down for the winter quite yet.  After a few days of collecting stragglers and supplies around Fort Lee, Cornwallis assembled his column and marched out in pursuit of the fleeing Continental Army.  It was late November.  A cold driving rain fell on both the fleeing Continentals and their pursuers.  Muddy roads made the movement of wagons and equipment difficult.  It was more of a problem for the British since the Continentals had already abandoned most of their equipment.

The Continentals destroyed all bridges as they marched down the west bank of the Passaic River.  The regulars shadowed them a few days behind along the east bank. As the British moved south, they encouraged locals to take advantage of Howe’s offer of amnesty.  Many did so, in order to protect their property.  Most patriots had fled ahead of the British arrival.  While there was some clear hostility, or at least coldness to the British arrival at some farms and villages, most locals who remained appeared to side with the British as they marched through towns along the east coast of New Jersey.

This was critical to the British war plans.  The British would never have enough regulars or Hessian auxiliaries to occupy all of America.  They had to rely on local Tories to keep areas under the King’s authority once the army moved on to another area.  Cornwallis tried to limit looting and pillaging of the locals.  Soldiers were always eager to supplement their lives through pilfering food or valuables.  Even the army itself had to commandeer supplies along the way to feed and shelter its men.  Cornwallis, still had to struggle to keep plunder of potentially friendly locals from getting too out of control, or those locals would not remain friendly.

In many of their reports, British officers tended to blame the Hessians for all of the looting.  But given the number of regulars who were subjected to lashings or other punishments, it seems clear that many British soldiers could not resist either.  Beyond the soldiers, many civilians, former slaves, and other camp followers marched behind the army, looting and pillaging whatever they could find.

Of course, Washington’s army was guilty of many of the same crimes.  Starving Continentals and militia, many without food, shoes, or blankets, availed themselves of opportunities to acquire whatever they needed, however they could.  Being on the run, Washington had a hard time attracting any new recruits to what looked like a lost cause.  He was lucky to hold on to the soldiers he already had.

The Continental Army reached Newark where it remained for a few days.  Washington hoped that local militia would rally around the army and give them enough men to make a stand.  His army marched into Newark on November 23 or 24, and remained there until November 28.  He sent a note to Congress in Philadelphia, warning them that the British might pursue the army that far and take the city before the end of the year.  Some in Congress, not realizing the state of affairs, were shocked and panicked at the idea that the British might soon get to Philadelphia.

On November 28, Cornwallis’ force entered Newark as the last of the Continentals retreated south out of the other end of town.  As Cornwallis’ regulars moved south, Washington’s Continentals once again retreated further south to New Brunswick. Washington had failed to rally any militia. The Continentals were in no position to engage in a sustained battle.  Both armies continued to move across New Jersey toward Philadelphia.

Next week: I want to step away from the battlefield.  I’m going to take a look at what the Continental Congress thought about recent events as well as diplomatic efforts.

- - -

Next Episode 115: Congress and Diplomacy (Available September 22, 2019).

Previous Episode 113 The Fall of Fort Washington



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Further Reading

Websites

Gen. Wilhelm Von Knyphausen: http://www.mountvernon.org/digital-encyclopedia/article/wilhelm-von-knyphausen

Col. Johann Rahl (sometimes spelled Rall) : http://www.revolutionarywararchives.org/rall.html

Letter from George Washington to John Hancock, 27 November 1776, Founders Online, National Archives, https://founders.archives.gov/documents/Washington/03-07-02-0159

Fleming, Thomas "The Enigma Of General Howe" American Heritage, Vol. 15, Issue 2 (Feb. 1964): http://www.americanheritage.com/content/enigma-general-howe

Free eBooks
(from archive.org 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.

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

Drake, Samuel A. The Campaign of Trenton 1776-77, Lee and Shepard, 1899.

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

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) or see below in "books worth buying" section.

Stryker, William Battles Of Trenton And Princeton, Houghton, Mifflin, and Company, 1898.

Books Worth Buying
(links to Amazon.com unless otherwise noted)*

Atkinson, Richard The British Are Coming: The War for America, Lexington to Princeton, 1775-1777, Henry Holt & Co. 2019

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.

Dwyer, William The Day Is Ours: How a Ragged Rebel Army Stood the Storm and Saved the Revolution,  Viking, 1983.

Fischer, David Hackett Washington’s Crossing, Oxford Univ. Press, 2004.

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

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

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

* This site is a registered Amazon Associate.  Please help support this site by purchasing any of these books, or any other Amazon product, via the links on this site.  If you start by clicking on a book link above and then browse to buy something completely different on Amazon, American Revolution Podcast will get credit for your purchase.

Sunday, September 8, 2019

Episode 113: Fall of Fort Washington




In last week’s episode, we saw General Washington pull the Continental Army out of White Plains New York and cross the Hudson River into New Jersey.  British General William Howe pursued a policy of slow but deliberate overwhelming force.  He never gave Washington an opportunity to strike at any extended vulnerability, but his glacial pace also met he never could capture the Continental Army or force any sort of determinative battle.

The Continental Army still had one outpost on Manhattan.  That was Fort Washington.  The Americans had built Fort Washington in order to prevent the Royal Navy from sailing up the Hudson.  It sat along the river on the New York side, with Fort Lee (formerly Fort Constitution) on the New Jersey side.  Any British ship passing up the river would be subject to an artillery assault from both sides.

The experience over the summer showed that the forts never accomplished their purpose.  With a good tailwind, the British Navy could sail right past both forts, suffering only minor damage.  Admiral Richard Howe regularly sent ships upriver for little purpose other than proving he could.

The Defenders

By November 1776, with all of the rest of the Continental forces out of Manhattan, Fort Washington sat as the last local bastion of defence on the island against the British Army.  General Howe was ready to move into winter quarters, but not before he dealt with this last holdout.  The Americans had spent a year and a half building up the defenses at Fort Washington.  They had increased the size of the garrison to about 3000 defenders. The fort had plenty of cannon, soldiers, and food to withstand a siege of several months.  In fact, the fort was far too small for all the men. Most were deployed outside the fort.

Battle of Fort Washington (from Wikimedia)
Washington had to worry about the main army that he was taking into New Jersey.  He wanted to stay between the British and Philadelphia, figuring they might move on the seat of Congress if given the opportunity. He divided his force, giving a portion to General Charles Lee to take north, further upriver into the Hudson Valley.  Lee’s forces would prevent any British attempt to move toward Albany and perhaps making a coordinated attack on Fort Ticonderoga in cooperation with General Carleton’s forces in Canada.  Washington left General Nathanael Greene with a separate command of Forts Washington and Lee.

On November 8, Washington wrote a letter to Greene, saying that the fort was useless at keeping British ships from moving up and down the river, that it seemed in imminent danger of attack, and that it was probably not worth risking the men and supplies there.  They should evacuate across the river to New Jersey.  Washington, though, left the final decision up to Greene, who was on the scene and had a better idea what was going on.

Up until this time, General Greene had no actual battlefield experience.  He had arrived in Cambridge for the Siege of Boston a few weeks after Lexington and Concord.  He was back in Rhode Island during the battle of Bunker Hill.  Washington ordered him to be ready for an invasion from the north of Boston during the Battle of Dorchester Heights, an invasion that never happened.  When Greene move with the army to New York, he had been in command of the forces on Long Island, but became deathly sick a few weeks before the battle and had to sit that one out too.  His rise to general seemed to be based primarily on the fact that Congress wanted someone from Rhode Island and that he had kept a fairly well disciplined camp at the Siege of Boston.  He would prove his value as a general later. But at Fort Washington, Greene was not only his name, it also described his battlefield experience.

Greene ignored Washington’s advice to abandon the fort.  Even though a British siege would probably prevail, Greene hoped to make the British pay for the real estate with their lives, perhaps another Bunker Hill.  He expected that when things got too hot, his men could escape across the Hudson River to New Jersey.

Greene did not command Fort Washington personally.  Greene set up his command across the river at Fort Lee in New Jersey.  Instead, he left that honor to Colonel Robert Magaw of Pennsylvania.  Magaw was an Irish immigrant who had worked as a lawyer in western Pennsylvania before the war began.  He was an ardent patriot who supported the cause in Pennsylvania politics, part of the radical patriots of western Pennsylvania who were challenging the more conservative leaders in Philadelphia.  He also became an Associator after Lexington and Concord.

Other than a few years of participation in a local militia, Magaw had no real military experience before marching up to Cambridge in 1775.  He was part of Thompson’s Regiment of riflemen, among the first Pennsylvanians to join the New England Army at Cambridge, serving as a major. When he remained with the Continental Army at the end of 1775 as most of the army was going home, he received a promotion to colonel.  After the army moved to New York Colonel Magraw commanded the 5th Pennsylvania Battalion and took direct command at Fort Washington, under the direction of General Greene.

Despite Washington’s misgivings, his officers at the scene thought the fort could withstand a lengthy siege.  If it seemed their defenses would fail, they expected to be able to retreat across the Hudson to New Jersey.  Green did not even think there would be a siege.  He expected the British to go into winter quarters, tackling the fort the following spring.

British Surround the Fort

General Howe, however, had no plans to end the campaign just yet.  It was already November.  As expected, he did not want to maintain a siege over the winter.  He was looking to wrap up the fighting season.  Before ending the season though, he thought he could clear the last American rebels off of Manhattan.  The bulk of the Continental army had already fled the area.  Howe had almost all of the forces under his command available to take the fort.

Howe ordered the newly arrived Hessian General Wilhelm Knyphausen to take up a position just north of the fort with two columns comprising over 4000 Hessian soldiers.  Wilhelm, baron von Knyphausen was the second in command of the Hessian force.  He was an experienced officer who has served Frederick the Great in his Prussian Army.

British General Lord Percy, who had saved the British expedition to Concord, and who had most recently distinguished himself in the invasions on Long Island, had already taken a position to the south of the Fort with between four and five thousand British and Hessian soldiers.  From there Percy, monitored the Americans during the weeks when the main British Army was gently nudging the Americans out of Harlem Heights and White Plains.

Battle Map, Fort Washington (from Wikimedia)
Admiral Richard Howe brought several ships of the line up river to fire on the fort from the west.  The Admiral even came ashore to work with General Percy in the assault from the south.

General Howe took up a position with his main army directly to the east of the fort.  He and General Lord Cornwallis and General Edward Mathew led over 4000 regulars, including 800 Highlanders of the Black Watch, in a direct assault from the east.  In total, General Howe had about 13,000 British and Hessian soldiers ready to take the 3000 defenders.  Not all of these soldiers would be engaged in battle.  About 5000 ended up being held in reserve.

Howe had a pretty good idea of the fort’s defenses.  A few weeks earlier, Magaw’s adjutant, William Demont deserted his post and entered the British lines.  He brought with him sketches of the fort’s defenses, and intelligence about a garrison that was deeply divided.  He noted that the fort had no internal water source, but had to carry water up from the river.  There were also no barracks or protected ammunition bunkers in the fort.  The outer defenses leading up to the fort were rather weak.  There were miles of defenses around the fort that had far less soldiers than needed to defend them.  Many weak spots in the line would allow the British to push back the defenders to the fort itself.  From there, the British could bring up cannon to nearly point blank range.  They could knock down the walls and also lob shells into the fort.

On November 10, Washington arrived on the scene from the New Jersey side.  From there, he hoped to evaluate personally whether to abandon Fort Washington prior to any attack.  Washington discussed the matter with his officers, but hesitated to make any final decision on the matter.  By November 12, Howe had his force in place.  His men then sat for several days, giving the Americans an opportunity to retreat at night across the river.

On November 15, British Lieutenant Colonel James Patterson approached the fort under a flag of truce.  His message ordered the immediate surrender of the fort, and said that if such surrender did not happen in the next two hours, everyone in the fort would be put to the sword, no surrender.  It was a bit of bluster that the Americans did not believe.  They knew General Howe would never permit such a massacre.  Magaw rejected the demand and sent Patterson back to his lines.  He also sent word of the surrender demand back to General Greene.

Washington had left Fort Lee to find more comfortable quarters for himself at Hackensack. He still did not expect the British to launch an attack. At Fort Lee, Green received news of the surrender demand and forwarded the news to General Washington in Hackensack.  He told Washington he left standing orders with Magaw to defend the fort until receiving further orders. Green then went across the river to Fort Washington, along with General Israel Putnam to discuss the situation with Magaw.  As I said, like Greene, Magaw was not an experienced officer.  He was confident that he could hold out against the British for at least a month and was in no mood to surrender or retreat.

That evening, after dark, Greene and Putnam returned back across the river.  As they made their way, they encountered General Washington in a boat headed toward them in mid-river.  Washington had received Greene’s message and rushed to get to Fort Washington himself.  The generals conferred on their boats, mid-river.  They told Washington that Magaw remained confident and prepared to defend the fort.  Greene and Putnam had approved his defensive plan and convinced Washington that he should wait until morning before doing anything further.  The three generals returned to New Jersey.

General Howe had given the Americans days to retreat.  Delivering terms on the morning of the 15th turned out to be his final warning.  He gave the Americans an opportunity to pull off another night escape that night.  This time though, the Americans were going to stand and fight.

The Battle of Fort Washington

Near dawn on the morning of November 16, Hessian forces from the North began storming the outer trenches.  At the same time, Percy’s forces, a mix of Hessian and British forces from the south began storming the outer trenches on the south side.  Howe’s artillery bombarded the fort from the east.  The speed of the attack seemed to surprise the Americans, who began retreating back into the fort.

Wm Von Knyphausen
(from Wikimedia)
Then, almost as suddenly as the attack began, it stopped.  General Howe sent orders to both Knyphausen and Percy to halt their attacks and pull back.  Howe’s main infantry under Generals Mathew and Cornwallis did not get across the Harlem River in time and was not ready.

Both Knyphausen and Percy’s attacking forces later grumbled that they had been succeeding before being ordered to stop and suffered far more casualties when they resumed the attack later that morning, after the Americans were ready for them.

When the attacks started that morning, General Washington, along with Generals Greene, Putnam, and Mercer crossed over the river and took a position of observation at a house on a hill a few miles from the fort.  The British kept getting closer to their position until the generals urged Washington to leave or be captured.  Greene even offered to stay behind and monitor things but insisted that Washington leave.  Finally Washington agreed they all should leave. The group left only 15 minutes before the enemy took the hill.  Had Washington been a bit slower or the British a bit faster, one squad might have captured almost all of the top leadership of the Continental army.

At around 11 AM the main British force under Cornwallis and Mathews finally got into position and the advance resumed on all fronts.  Knyphausen’s Hessians to the north had a particularly difficult time trudging through swamps, then having to climb up a rocky cliff area where several soldiers fell to their deaths.  All the while, they came under fire from American cannons and riflemen.  One of the artillerists that day was John Corbin, who was killed in the British assault.  The only reason I mention his name as one of hundreds of otherwise anonymous casualties of this battle is that his wife Margaret was with him on the field dressed as a man and assisting him with the cannon. When he died, Margaret Corbin took his position on the cannon and continued loading and firing.  Soon, she also took a hit and had to leave the field, another rare example of women fighting in combat during this war.

Margaret Corbin in battle (from Rev War Journal)
After a couple of  hours, the American riflemen had to retreat.  Sustained fire had fouled their barrels.  They could not continue to fire until they cleaned their weapons.  So, they retreated back to the fort.  Many other defenders acquitted themselves well.  But the overwhelming number of attackers eventually forced the defenders to withdraw.

Inside the fort itself, Colonel Magaw’s overcrowded garrison was pinned down by a steady and massive artillery bombardment.  He received a message from Washington urging him to hold out until dark.  A short time later, Magaw learned that the Hessians had reached the fort walls and were demanding that he surrender or they would kill everyone in the fort.  Magaw tried to delay, requesting four hours to respond but was given only 30 minutes. This time, Magaw saw that his defenses would not hold and agreed to surrender.

Few men were able to escape.  A handful swam across the Hudson River, but most had to lay down their arms and surrender.  By 4PM the battle was over and prisoners were being marched out of fort under guard.  The victors re-branded Fort Washington as Fort Knyphausen.  They would hold the fort for the next seven years.

Aftermath

The British recorded losses of 128 killed wounded or missing, while the Hessians lost 326.  There is some evidence that Hessians killed some prisoners, particularly riflemen, after surrender, out of anger and frustration from their losses.  The terms of surrender promised that the garrison would be permitted to keep their personal baggage.  Yet, as the British and Hessians marched their prisoners out of the fort, they stripped them of all valuables, including even some clothing.  Hessians literally cut the backpacks off of prisoners and they marched, and did not hesitate to kick and beat the prisoners.  The victors shouted that they were traitors and should all be killed where they stood.  Among the prisoners, the British found a few deserters who had joined the Continental Army.  These former regulars were sentenced to death.

Some desperately searched to find George Washington among the prisoners, disappointed to learn that he and the other generals were safely across the river in New Jersey.  Washington watched the surrender through a telescope, something that he later described as giving him great mortification.

The Americans suffered only 59 killed and 96 wounded.  But the real loss was the capture of the fort and its garrison.  The British took 230 officers and 2600 soldiers as prisoners.  Most of these men would have been better off being killed in battle.  Many wounded would die in the next days or weeks as they went untreated, were denied food and water, and kept in terrible conditions.

Even those who had survived the battle without injury faced horrific conditions.  They would spend the next several years in warehouses or aboard prison ships in New York Harbor in the care of Joshua Loring.  As you may recall, Loring was the husband of General Howe’s mistress.  As a reward for his compliance and discretion, Howe gave him charge of prisoners of war.  Loring made a small fortune embezzling money for the food and care of the prisoners, allowing most of them to starve to death or die from disease brought on by hunger or other horrific conditions.  By one estimate more than two-thirds of the prisoners captured that day would die within the next 18 months.

Officers tended to do a little better.  While some were treated roughly in the weeks after the capture, most were eventually allowed to live on parole either on Long Island or in New York City.  They could arrange for their own quarters, on the promise that they would not try to escape or take up arms until exchanged.  Colonel Magaw ended up living at the home of Rugert Van Brunt in Gravesend, Long Island.  He would be held as a prisoner on parole for nearly four years.  However, it ended up being not so bad for him.  While a prisoner, he married Van Brunt’s daughter Marrieta.  In late 1780, he was finally exchanged.  The couple returned to Magraw’s home in Carlisle, PA. His neighbors hailed him as a returning hero and elected him to the Pennsylvania legislature.

The Fort itself, along with all of its cannon, ammunition, equipment, and food fell into British hands, leaving the Continental Army without those desperately needed goods.  On the other hand, the Continental Army also had 3000 less mouths to feed.  The fall of Fort Washington would be the greatest loss of soldiers for the Continental Army until near the end of the war.

The staggering loss caused Congress and many Americans, not to mention other officers, to question not only General Greene’s judgment, but also General Washington’s.  His decision to divide his forces in the face of the enemy, and leave the garrison at Fort Washington to be a sitting duck led many to doubt his judgment.  Washington was too indecisive.  Perhaps it was time to consider a replacement.

Next week: The British cross the Hudson and take Fort Lee in New Jersey.

- - -

Next Episode 114: Escape from Fort Lee

Previous Episode 112: Battle of White Plains



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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. Also, see the very bottom of this page to see how you can support this podcast by making purchases you would make anyway on Amazon.  Thanks, Mike Troy


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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

Websites

Battle of Fort Washington: https://revolutionarywar.us/year-1776/battle-fort-washington

Battle of Fort Washington, Facts and Summary: https://www.battlefields.org/learn/revolutionary-war/battles/fort-washington

Col. Robert Magaw: https://www.civilwar.org/learn/biographies/robert-magaw

Gen. Wilhelm Von Knyphausen: http://www.mountvernon.org/digital-encyclopedia/article/wilhelm-von-knyphausen

Col. Johann Rahl (sometimes spelled Rall) : http://www.revolutionarywararchives.org/rall.html

Fleming, Thomas, "The Enigma Of General Howe" American Heritage, Vol. 15, Issue 2 (Feb. 1964): http://www.americanheritage.com/content/enigma-general-howe

Free eBooks
(from archive.org 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.

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

Drake, Samuel A. The Campaign of Trenton 1776-77, Lee and Shepard, 1899.

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

Himes, Charles F. Col. Robert Magaw, the Defender of Fort Washington, Hamilton Library Association, 1915.

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) or see below in "books worth buying" section.

Stryker, William Battles Of Trenton And Princeton, Houghton, Mifflin, and Company, 1898.

Books Worth Buying
(links to Amazon.com unless otherwise noted)*

Atkinson, Richard The British Are Coming: The War for America, Lexington to Princeton, 1775-1777, Henry Holt & Co. 2019

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

Dwyer, William The Day Is Ours: How a Ragged Rebel Army Stood the Storm and Saved the Revolution,  Viking, 1983.

Fischer, David Hackett Washington’s Crossing, Oxford Univ. Press, 2004.

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

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

* This site is a registered Amazon Associate.  Please help support this site by purchasing any of these books, or any other Amazon product, via the links on this site.  If you start by clicking on a book link above and then browse to buy something completely different on Amazon, American Revolution Podcast will get credit for your purchase.

Sunday, September 1, 2019

Episode 112: Battle of White Plains




When we last left General Washington, he was holding firm at Harlem Heights on Manhattan Island.  Having created a series of defensive lines, he waited patiently for British General Howe’s frontal attack.  Washington expected that in such an attack he would inflict large numbers of casualties on the British, even if he had to give up the field.

The problem for Washington was that, since Bunker Hill, General Howe was not stupid enough to attempt a frontal assault against an entrenched enemy.  Washington had given Howe several opportunities for such an attack, but Howe refused to take the bait.

Hessian Soldiers (from Land of the Brave)
In holding this ground, Washington did not consider the danger to his army.  Holding an entrenched area on Manhattan Island, meant that the British could easily sail north of Washington’s position, land a force and effectively surround the Continental Army.  Fortunately for the Continentals, Howe ignored General Clinton’s advice to do just that: land a force to the north, capture King’s Bridge and cut off Washington’s army from any line of retreat.

Instead, after meeting resistance at Harlem Heights, on September 16, 1776, Howe did what he usually did: set up camp, entrench his troops in defensive lines and sit around for weeks doing nothing.

It appears that Howe was waiting to hear from Canada.  He knew Generals Carleton and Burgoyne planned to invade Lake Champlain and make his way down toward Albany.  From there, that 10,000 man northern army would be in Washington’s rear while Howe still sat in front of Washington’s lines.  The Continentals would have no choice but to see the hopelessness of their cause.  They would surrender and allow the Howe brothers to work out generous peace terms with the King, all without having a major battle that could kill thousands.

As we learned last week, however, the Canadian commander, General Carleton, could be just as conservative as Howe.  After the battle of Valcour Island and destroying Arnold’s fleet on Lake Champlain, Carleton decided that late October was too late in the year to begin his invasion of New York.  He pulled his forces back to Canada and waited for spring.

Landing at Throg’s Neck

With nothing happening to the north, Howe finally concluded that he needed to do something about Washington’s Army.  He still rejected Clinton’s plans to land a large army behind the enemy and trap them.  Instead, he permitted Clinton to perform another water landing a few miles up the East River at Throg’s Neck, often mistakenly called Frog’s Neck in many of the contemporary reports.

Throg’s Neck was a peninsula on the East River a few miles north of Kip’s Bay and just on the northern side of the Harlem River.  It was not far north enough for the British to get around Washington’s rear and cut off his army from retreat.  It was about due east of Washington’s headquarters at Harlem Heights.  By marching west, the British would threaten Washington’s position, but still give him time to retreat further north.

British Transports on East River (from Wikimedia)
In the early morning hours of October 12, Clinton’s army of 4000 returned to Kip’s Bay and boarded a fleet of navy warships and transport vessels.  The fleet got underway shortly after dawn moving up the East River toward Throg’s Neck.  A heavy fog set in over the river, making the journey extremely dangerous.  The fleet of 80 ships had to pass through an already dangerous part of the river known as Hell Gate, full of rocks and whirlpools that could damage a ship even in good weather.  Admiral Richard Howe personally commanded the expedition and somehow guided the fleet to its destination.  Only one small ship, carrying three cannon and a few men wrecked and sank.  That the bulk of the fleet made it through the treacherous waters in such bad weather is a testament both to the skill of Admiral Howe’s navy and probably also to some good luck.  British reports indicate they encountered “feeble resistance” upon landing.  But there were probably not more than a few lookouts in the area.

The real problems for the British started after the landing.  Throg’s Neck was an island at high tide. Even at low tide, the only way to cross from the neck onto the mainland was across a bridge.  The Continental General Heath had removed the bridge planks days earlier, just in case the British decided to land there. 

On the other side of the bridge, twenty-five Continental riflemen harassed the British and prevented them from attempting to cross and repair the bridge.  The British advance force instead threw up a defensive barrier and returned fire.  Another Continental guard blocked a marshy ford where the British might be able to pass.  Thus, because of the landing point, less than 100 Americans could block the advance of Clinton’s 4000 man army.  A member of the NY Provincial Congress noted later, “had [the British] pushed their imaginations to discover the worst place [to land] they could not have succeeded better than they have done.”

Rather than attempt to push through or return to the ships to move up river, the British did what they did best, sit and wait.  They spent several more days camping on Throg’s Neck and awaiting further supplies.  Meanwhile Washington deployed more reinforcements to prevent the British from getting off the neck.  Over the next few days, about 1800 Americans moved into the area to contest any British advance.

Lee Returns

About the same time Washington was preparing to contest the British attack at Throg’s Neck, General Charles Lee returned from the South.  Lee was probably at the height of his popularity following his victory at Fort Sullivan in South Carolina.  As I discussed in an earlier episode, Colonel Moultrie defeated the British at Fort Sullivan only by ignoring Lee’s advice to retreat and give up the Fort before the British even attacked.  Still, Lee was the commander on the scene and received the credit for the only clear American victory in a major battle against regulars so far.

Charles Lee
(from Wikimedia)
Washington assigned Lee to command the left flank of the Continental forces, which included the area along the East River that appeared to be where the British were launching their attack.  Lee, an experienced British officer took one look at the map and essentially told Washington and his generals: Are you guys crazy?  The only reason the British had not landed north of you and trapped your entire army yet is that they seem to be bigger idiots than you.  We need to retreat across Kingsbridge right away.  We need to move further north so that we don’t fall into a British trap.

The next day, in response to Lee’s advice, Washington held a council of war with his top generals.  They agreed to abandon Harlem Heights and move across the Harlem River to White Plains.  There, the mountains provided a natural defensive area.  It also served as a Continental supply depot for materials shipped to the army from New England.  Days later Colonel Joseph Reed credited Lee’s wakeup call for saving the army from certain destruction.  On the other side, General Henry Clinton agreed that the precipitous retreat, combined with the British delay at Throg’s Neck saved the Continental Army.

Landing at Pelham Bay

After the Continentals began their retreat to White Plains, General Howe finally conceded what everyone else had realized for days: his landing at Throg’s Neck was a huge mistake.  He ordered Clinton and his 4000 soldiers back into their 80 ships and moved further upriver.

The Continentals were on the move, but the lack of horses and wagons slowed that move.  The British might still beat the Americans to White Plains and take control of the hills before the Americans could entrench themselves.  The British chose to land at Pelham Bay, but before they left Throg’s Neck, several deserters slipped into the American lines and informed the Continentals of Howe’s new plans.

Pelham Bay (from Journal of Am. Rev.)
To oppose Howe, Lee deployed what amounted to about two regiments under the command of Colonel John Glover, the same mariner who had ferried Washington’s Army from Long Island to New York for the successful retreat from the battle of Brooklyn.  Now he had a chance to prove himself on land.  In the early morning hours of October 18, Glover saw Howe’s fleet landing at Pelham Bay.  The British apparently began the landing before dawn and all 4000 were ashore before the Americans could engage them.

As Glover advanced his men to engage the enemy, he encountered an advance enemy company of about 30 soldiers.  Glover deployed 40 men to engage the force while he deployed his defensive lines behind the fighting.  Glover made use of the stone walls dividing farm pastures that fell at intervals along either side of the road leading inland.

The Continentals deployed behind the walls.  As the British forced the American advance guard to retreat, they pushed forward expecting a rout.  When the British hit the first stone wall, the Americans stood up and fired a volley at close range, forcing the British to stagger back.  The two sides exchanged volleys as the British brought up their cannons.  The Americans, greatly outnumbered, fell back in good order as the next line of Americans lay behind the next stone wall ready to repeat the process.

Eventually, the armies reached a creek which Glover had set as his final line of defense.  He had pulled up the bridge crossing the creek and deployed his full force of over 700 men along the creek to prevent the enemy from crossing.  Glover also had a few cannon to back up his infantry.   The British failed to cross the creek but continued to exchange artillery fire until nightfall.  Under the cover of darkness, Glover’s brigade slipped away and marched the three miles to join up with the main Continental force.

The battle at Pelham’s Bay led to few American casualties, eight killed and thirteen wounded.  The number of British casualties is a matter of dispute.  In his official report, Clinton reported only three dead and twenty wounded.  But Clinton only reported British casualties, not the Hessian ones.  The Hessians made up about 3000 of the 4000 man force that engaged in battle, and were involved in some of the heaviest fighting.  Estimates range from 200 to 1000 dead and wounded among the Hessians.  While I suspect the lower range of that estimate is closer to the truth, it was still a lopsided battle and a dearly bought victory for the British and Hessians.  Outnumbered by about 5 to 1, the Americans never expected to hold the field.  The battle provided the Continental army with a successful delaying action, keeping the British from attacking the main Continental column all day.  This gave Washington the valuable time he needed to move the Continental Army out of danger.

White Plains

Rather than moving directly on Washington’s retreating column, the following day Howe ordered the army to move north to New Rochelle.  There, the army waited another three days until 8000 Hessians who had just made the Atlantic crossing could come up from Staten Island to join the forces pursuing Washington.  The Hessians came under the command of General Wilhelm Von Knyphausen.

Both sides continued to trudge north slowly.  The Continentals were so slow because they lacked the horses and wagons to pull their artillery and baggage.  The British and Hessians just seemed to move at a leisurely pace, stopping for a few days here and there in various towns along the way.

As Washington struggled to get his army over the Harlem River at King's Bridge, he sent Colonel Rufus Putnam to search out the British Army’s position.  I’m not sure why he sent his Chief Engineer on such a mission, especially when he had officers who were much more familiar with the local area than the Colonel from Massachusetts.  But Putnam set out on his own to find the enemy.  He learned from local militia that Howe’s forces were only about nine miles down the road from White Plains.  If General Howe had occupied the heights first and linked up with brother, Admiral Howe on the Hudson river, Washington’s army would have been cut off from any line of retreat.  Putnam rushed back to Washington’s camp and got Washington to push forward on a night march to take White Plains first.
British Grenadiers (from Britanica)

General Howe, though, was still waiting for the Hessians.  Putnam discovered the British position on October 19, but Howe did not begin to move until October 22.  When the British did finally move, they marched another few miles up the road from New Rochelle to Mamaroneck and paused there for another four days.  By the time the British and Hessians finally started moving again, the Continental Army had had almost a week to occupy and entrench its defenses at White Plains, making a direct assault inadvisable.

Washington had positioned the Continental lines between the Bronx river on his right, and a smaller creek and marshy area to the left, making a British flanking attack on his lines more difficult.

While the 14,000 British and Hessian force could have taken the Continentals, Howe feared another Bunker Hill level of casualties.  Howe’s second in command, Clinton, who had been urging faster movement all along, also agreed that a direct assault at this point would be a mistake.

Instead, the Howe stopped again and waited for a better opportunity to engage the Continentals.  General Clinton led the British contingent and Knyphausen led the Hessians.  The combined force moved to occupy the high ground Chatterton Hill.  It was across the Bronx River, but would give the British the high ground overlooking the Continental right flank.  From there, the British could use artillery to drive the Americans from the field.  On October 28, they attempted to occupy Chatterton Hill.

As soon as Washington learned the British were crossing the Bronx River, he realized Chatterton Hill was the obvious goal, and sent General Alexander McDougal, who you may recall from many episodes back had been one of the Sons of Liberty troublemakers in New York City, to support the few militia units already on the Hill.  Other deployed officers included Major Benjamin Tallmadge, who will become more important in future episodes, and Captain Alexander Hamilton’s artillery.  This force would try to deny the hill to the enemy.

Battle of White Plains (from Wordpress)
The Continentals first deployed a few companies as a delaying action to slow the British and Hessians from crossing the Bronx River and approaching the hill.  This gave McDougal time to get his soldiers on Chatterton Hill.  The Hessians led a few tentative assaults on the hill but were driven back each time.  The British eventually decided they needed to launch an all out coordinated assault on the hill using 4000 troops.

They organized the attack with three prongs, Colonel Johann Rahl would lead a charge up the hill on the American right.  Another Hessian, Colonel Carl Von Donop, led a second charge against the center, and British General Alexander Leslie would lead British regulars against the American left flank.  Colonel Johan Rahl’s assault ended up scattering the militia on the American right flank.  Rahl had newly arrived in America with the Hessian reinforcements.  A few months later, he would find himself in charge of the Trenton outpost during Christmas.

After Rahl scattered the militia, he was able to push into the American Center on Chatterton Hill.  The Americans did not panic this time.  Colonel John Haslet’s Delaware Regiment, which had been one of the few to stand and fight at the battle of Long Island, stood and fought again on Chatterton Hill, providing covering fire for the rest of the Americans to retreat.  Haslet’s regiment then maintained its own orderly retreat off the hill, giving way to the superior British and Hessian assaults while keeping their lines in good order.

John Haslet (from
Revolutionary War Journal)
The fighting on Chatterton Hill cost the British and Hessians about 200 casualties, while the Americans lost about 175.  Since this was just part of the overall battle of White Plains, casualty estimates are not very precise, but basically it was close to a draw in terms of casualties.  The British took the hill giving them the victory. They then entrenched themselves and prepared for a final assault on the main American lines.

But Howe still was not interested in an aggressive attack.  After capturing Chatterton Hill, the two armies spent the rest of the day mostly lobbing artillery shells at each other without much impact.  With British artillery now able to destroy the Continental right flank, the British could have launched a final assault and crushed the Continental line.

Instead, Howe did what he normally did, gave Washington a chance to realize that his position was untenable and that he should retreat from the field.  Howe reinforced his position on Chatterton Hill, and maintained his lines directly facing the American main lines, but did not advance.  The two armies faced each other for two more days as the Americans awaited the final assault that never came.

On October 30, General Lord Percy arrived from New York City with seven more regiments of Hessians.  Even with additional forces, the British did not attack.  According to Howe, he had planned to attack on the 31st, but did not do so because of a terrible rain storm. Washington finally decided that the Continental Army should retreat north.  On November 1, before dawn, the Continentals began to pull out and march north.  The continuing rain gave cover to the retreat.  Howe did not bother to pursue or harass the retreating Continental Army.

At first, the Continentals moved about five miles north to North Castle Heights, where they would be in a better position to resist a British attack.  But the British never bothered to pursue them.  Howe remained in camp for several more days, finally abandoning White Plains and returning south.  Washington, realizing he would not have to occupy the favorable ground for a battle, continued his retreat to the north.  At Peekskill, he took his army across the Hudson River into New Jersey.

With Washington’s retreat, the only Continental occupation on Manhattan Island remained the stronghold at Fort Washington.

Next Week: General Howe will turn his attention to the capture of Fort Washington, making his control of Manhattan complete.

- - -

Next Episode 113: Fall of Fort Washington (Available September 8, 2019).

Previous Episode 111: Retreat from 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. Also, see the very bottom of this page to see how you can support this podcast by making purchases you would make anyway on Amazon.  Thanks, 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

Websites

Battle of White Plains: http://www.britishbattles.com/war-of-the-revolution-1775-to-1783/battle-of-white-plains

Battle of White Plains, facts: http://thehistoryjunkie.com/battle-of-white-plains-facts

White Plains: http://www.mountvernon.org/digital-encyclopedia/article/battle-of-white-plains

Gen. Wilhelm Von Knyphausen: http://www.mountvernon.org/digital-encyclopedia/article/wilhelm-von-knyphausen

Col. Rufus Putnam: http://www.ohiohistorycentral.org/w/Rufus_Putnam

Col. John Haslet: http://www.military.com/Content/MoreContent/1,12044,ML_haslet_bkp,00.html

Gen. Alexander McDougall: http://www.ileach.co.uk/glasgow-islay/connections/liberty.html

Col. Johann Rahl (sometimes spelled Rall) : http://www.revolutionarywararchives.org/rall.html

Col. Carl Von Donop: http://id3491.securedata.net/imagecog/roadtofreedom/vondonop.html

Gen. Alexander Leslie: https://allthingsliberty.com/2013/10/general-leslie-really-died

Burdick, Kim "Delaware's Colonel John Haslet (1727-1777) Journal of the American Revolution April 30, 2019 https://allthingsliberty.com/2019/04/delawares-colonel-john-haslet-1727-1777

The Enigma Of General Howe, by Thomas Fleming, American Heritage, Vol. 15, Issue 2 (Feb. 1964): http://www.americanheritage.com/content/enigma-general-howe

Dacus, Jeff "Pell's Point: John Glover Saves Washington's Army" Journal of the American Revolution, June 12, 2018: https://allthingsliberty.com/2018/06/pells-point-john-glover-saves-washingtons-army

Ross, David "The Hessian Jagerkorps in New York and Pennsylvania, 1776-1777" Journal of the American Revolution, May 14, 2015 https://allthingsliberty.com/2015/05/the-hessian-jagerkorps-in-new-york-and-pennsylvania-1776-1777

Schenawolf, Harry "Battle of Mamaroneck, New York – 'A Pretty Affair' in the American Revolutionary War" Revolutionary War Journal March 5, 2013:
http://www.revolutionarywarjournal.com/battle-of-mamaroneck

Free eBooks
(from archive.org 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.

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

Babcock, James, Memoir of Captain Nathan Hale, Hale Memorial Assoc. 1844.

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

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) or see below in "books worth buying" section.

Reed, William Life and correspondence of Joseph Reed, military secretary of Washington, at Cambridge, Vol. 1, Lindsay and Blakiston, 1847.

Reed, Henry Sparks, Jared (ed) The Library of American Biography, Vol. 8: The Lives of Charles Lee and Joseph Reed, Little & Brown,1834.

Books Worth Buying
(links to Amazon.com unless otherwise noted)*

Atkinson, Richard The British Are Coming: The War for America, Lexington to Princeton, 1775-1777, Henry Holt & Co. 2019

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.

Martin, Joseph Plumb A Narrative of a Revolutionary Soldier, Signet Classics, 2010 (original 1830) (book recommendation of the week).

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

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

* This site is a registered Amazon Associate.  Please help support this site by purchasing any of these books, or any other Amazon product, via the links on this site.  If you start by clicking on a book link above and then browse to buy something completely different on Amazon, American Revolution Podcast will get credit for your purchase.