New York Captured in Revolutionary War


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New York Captured by the British. - General Howe selected September 13, 1776, for the landing of his army on New York Island from Long Island. It was the anniversary of the capture of Quebec, in 1759, in which he had participated. The watchword was " Quebec!" the countersign was " Wolfe!" In the afternoon four armed ships, keeping up an incessant fire on the American batteries, passed them into the East River, and anchored, but no landing was attempted that day. On the next day, about sunset, six British vessels ran up the East River, and on the 15th three others entered the Hudson, and anchored off Bloomingdale.

Washington's army had escaped capture on Long Island, but had to contend, in the city of New York, with deadlier foes, in the form of city temptations, sectional jealousies, insubordination, disrespect for superiors, drunkenness, and licentiousness, the fatal elements of dissolution. The British were evidently preparing to crush his weak army. Their ships occupied the bay and both rivers, and there were swarms of loyalists in New York and in Westchester county. At a council of war, September 12, 1776, it was resolved to send the military stores to Dobbs Ferry, on the Hudson, and to retreat to and fortify Harlem Heights, on the northern part of Manhattan Island. The sick were taken over to New Jersey. The main body of the army, accompanied by a host of Whigs, left the city (September 14) and moved towards Fort Washington, leaving a rear-guard of 4,000 men, under General Putnam. On the 16th they were on Harlem Heights, and Washington made his headquarters at the house of Colonel Roger Morris, his companion-in-arms in the battle on the Monongahela. On the 15th the British and Germans crossed the East River at Kip's Bay (foot of Thirty-fourth Street), under cover of a cannonade from their ships. The American guard fled at the first fire, and two brigades that were to support them ran away in a panic. But the British were kept back long enough to allow Putnam, with his rear-guard, to escape along a road near the Hudson River, and gain Harlem Heights. This was done chiefly by the adroit management of Mrs. Murray, a Quakeress, living on the Incleberg (now Murray Hill), who entertained the British officers with wines and other refreshments, and vivacious conversation. Putnam, on hearing of the landing at Kip's Bay, had struck his flag at Fort George, foot of Broadway, and made his way to Harlem Heights, sheltered from observation by intervening woods. Lord Dunmore, who was with the British fleet, went ashore and unfurled the British standard over the fort. On the same day British troops, under General Robertson, took possession of the city of New York, and held it seven years, two months, and ten days. Howe made his headquarters at the Beekman mansion at about Fiftieth Street and East River.



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