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The Battle Of Long Island

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The Battle of Long Island
In the history of the American Revolution, the Battle of Long Island (sometimes called the Battle of Brooklyn) in August 1776 is largely glossed over. It was, unfortunately, the first in a series of military defeats for George Washington and the Continental Army, and the eventual outcome of the war predisposes many to focus on the victories, Bunker Hill, Trenton, and Yorktown, which provide a better frame of the narrative. Even the hardships at Valley Forge serve as an indicator of the indomitable American spirit, as opposed to the disorganized chaos of American troops fleeing in the face of the British advance. However, the Battle of Long Island was not only the largest battle of the entire war but served as a crucible of Washington’s leadership, in that he oversaw a massive evacuation that saved his army from destruction, setting the stage for the inevitable victory that would occur five years later.
Prelude to Invasion
Americans were flush with patriotic spirit in the summer of 1776. Having driven the British out of Boston, the seedbed of the rebellion, Americans were drafting their independence and feeling confident. McCullough (2005) quotes Connecticut farm boy Joseph Plumb Martin, a raw recruit, as
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156). Some minor skirmishes followed the landing, but as late as August 24, Washington (1932) still believed that an attack on Manhattan was “very probable” (p. 485). Around 1 a.m. on August 27, Washington was awoken in his Manhattan headquarters by the sound of fighting coming from Long Island. By dawn, Washington realized that this was the main attack, and ordered all available regiments there, joining them there via a small boat (Flexner, 1968, p. 109). Washington told his men: “If I see any man turn his back today, I will shoot him through. […] But I will not ask any man to go further than I do. I will fight as long as I have a leg or an arm” (p.
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