On 15 September, 1776, the British army under General William Howe invaded Manhattan Island, with the largest expeditionary force in their history. George Washington's Continental Army, still in disarray after the disastrous Battle of Brooklyn some two weeks earlier, retreated north to Harlem Heights, leaving New York in British hands. Control of ...
On 15 September, 1776, the British army under General William Howe invaded Manhattan Island, with the largest expeditionary force in their history. George Washington's Continental Army, still in disarray after the disastrous Battle of Brooklyn some two weeks earlier, retreated north to Harlem Heights, leaving New York in British hands. Control of the city was Howe's primary objective. Located at the mouth of the strategically vital Hudson river, it had become the centrepiece of England's strategy for putting down the American rebellion. However, as Barnet Schecter reveals in this narrative, far from furnishing a key to the colonies, New York proved to be the fatal chalice that poisoned the British war effort. "The Battle for New York" tells the story of how the city became the pivot on which the American Revolution turned - from the political and religious struggles of the 1760s and early 1770s that polarised its citizens and increasingly made New York a hotbed of radical thought and action; to the campaign of 1776 that turned New York into a series of battlefields; to the seven years of British occupation, during which time Washington and Congress were as determined to regain the city as the British were to hold it. The extraordinary campaign in the autumn of 1776, which forms the heart of the book, was by far the largest military venture of the Revolutionary War; it involved almost every significant participant in the war on both sides; and there can be little doubt that during it the fate of America hung in the balance. Moreover, the outcome had a direct impact on the major turning points of the rest of the war.
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Publishers Weekly, 2002-09-03 Schecter here presents in sometimes overwhelming detail the story of New York from the beginning of the American Revolution in the spring of 1775 to the city's evacuation by the British late in 1783. The military operations of 1776 are the central focus, as the British occupied the city in order to advance up the Hudson River and unite with another force coming down from Canada. British Gen. William Howe landed troops on Long Island and routed the colonial army on August 27. In despair but persevering, Gen. George Washington listened to subordinates and managed to evacuate his troops from Long Island that night, even as the British navy awaited nearby. And Washington kept running, evacuating New York City in mid-September (with some minor fighting at Harlem Heights, Throg's Neck and White Plains) and withdrawing into New Jersey after losing more than 2,600 captured at Fort Washington. The British navy held New York City under martial law for the rest of the war, forced to maintain its presence there after the army moved to the South. Schecter details the lives of area loyalists, more than 29,000 of whom went to Canada after the war. Although many readers will find some of the abundant operational material hard going, Schecter's research is impeccable, and his battlefield tour of today's New York brings immediacy to the story. 8 maps and 65 illus. not seen by PW. (Oct.)
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