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History Corner

August 27, 1776

On August 27, 1776, British forces under General Sir William Howe soundly defeated the American army in the Battle of Long Island. The British first attacked the colonial position in the early morning hours sending in a small force at the center of the American defense. While the Americans focused on this smaller attack, the main force of the British army attacked from the east nearly surrounding the Americans.

Rather than losing his entire army to the British, Washington ordered the army to retreat to Brooklyn Heights. Several hundred men from Maryland, who would later become known as the Maryland 400, held off the British while the army retreated. Many of them were killed.

Instead of finishing off the Americans, the British leaders halted the attack. They didn’t want to needlessly sacrifice British troops as they had at the Battle of Bunker Hill. They also figured that the Americans had no way to escape.

On the night of August 29, Washington made a desperate attempt to save his army. The weather was foggy and rainy making it hard to see. He ordered his men to stay silent and had them slowly make their way across the East River to Manhattan. When the British woke up the next morning, the Continental Army was gone.

The Battle of Long Island (also known as the Battle of Brooklyn) was a decisive victory for the British. George Washington and the Continental Army were eventually forced to retreat all the way to Pennsylvania. The British remained in control of New York City for the rest of the Revolutionary War.

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