In this little-known Revolutionary War battle in the Bronx, skillful planning and marksmanship by American militia delayed a British landing long enough for George Washington’s army to escape destruction.
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The Battle of Pell’s Point (aka the Battle of Pelham) was fought on October 18, 1776 between American forces commanded by Col. John Glover and British forces commanded by General Henry Clinton near Pelham Manor (The Bronx), New York during the American Revolutionary War. The battle was a British victory, but delayed them long enough for General George Washington’s army to escape White Plains.
In the fall of 1776, American aspirations of independence were at a low point. British Gen. Sir William Howe had overwhelmed and driven the Continental Army commanded by Gen. George Washington out of New York City and Long Island. Washington aspired to escape north to White Plains to avoid being surrounded in Manhattan. He left several thousand men at Fort Washington and a brigade of 750 men commanded by Col. John Glover to contest a British landing at Pell’s Point.
At dawn on October 18, a British force of 4,000 men (mostly Hessian mercenaries) began landing on shore. Col. Glover saw their approach and carefully prepared a defense in depth, arranging his brigade in rows behind several stone walls. As the British approached, each row would fire and fall back to avoid being overwhelmed. Glover’s first line waited until the British troops were less than 30 yards away, then stood and poured a deadly volley into the redcoats.
George Washington’s daring raid across the icy Delaware River revived his battered army’s spirits and prevented total disaster for the Patriot cause. Today, the Capitol of New Jersey commemorates Washington’s 1776 victory.
After a string of defeats around southeastern New York and Long Island, George Washington’s army withdrew across the Delaware River to lick its wounds. Washington was joined by several other prominent American commanders, who needed a victory to hold together their ragtag band of militia over the winter. The victorious British commander, Lt. Gen. Charles Cornwallis, spread his army along the east bank of the Delaware to await the spring.
Washington decided to attack an isolated contingent of approximately 1,500 Hessian mercenaries camped at Trenton. A driving snowstorm prevented some of his plan from being implemented, but Washington crossed the icy Delaware under cover of darkness with 2,400 men. The Hessians, thinking victory was at hand, had spent Christmas celebrating and hadn’t provided proper security. As a result, they were caught off guard in the town streets.
After a running battle, Hessian Col. Johann Rahl made several attempts to organize his men and counter attack, but was mortally wounded. The remaining Hessians surrendered. Relatively light American casualties sweetened Washington’s victory. The Patriots lost only four killed and eight wounded to the Hessians’ 40 killed, 66 wounded, and 918 captured.
A roadside sign is all that marks the location of the first documented cavalry charge of the U.S. Army.
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The Battle of the Flockey was fought on August 13, 1777 between Tory militia forces commanded by Capt. John MacDonald (McDonnell) and American militia and dragoons commanded by Col. John Harper and Capt. Jean-Louis De Vernejoux southwest of Middleburgh in Schoharie County, New York during the American Revolutionary War. The battle was an American victory and quelled the first Tory uprising on the New York frontier.
When the Revolutionary War broke out, the Mohawk and Schoharie Valleys were divided between Patriots supporting independence and Tories supporting the British Crown. When British Maj. Gen. John Burgoyne began his campaign down Lake Champlain toward Albany, British loyalists on the frontier rose up. Patriots fortified several buildings along Schoharie Creek (a Mohawk River tributary), including a stone church near present-day Schoharie.
Local loyalists led by John McDonnell, Adam Crysler, and tavern owner Capt. George Mann trapped 20 Patriots in Johannes Becker’s stone house near Middleburgh, which was later called Middle Fort. Col. Harper escaped and rode to Albany, where he enlisted help from a 28-man troop of 2nd Continental Light Dragoons commanded by French mercenary Jean-Louis De Vernejoux. He returned with the dragoons and freed the militia at Middle Fort. From there, they rode south to clear the valley of Tories.
In 1777, a daring maneuver by George Washington surprised and defeated an isolated British force near modern-day Princeton University, reviving American hopes for independence. Today, the battlefield is preserved as a New Jersey state park.
After his victories in southeastern New York, British Lt. Gen. Charles Cornwallis had strung his army along the Delaware River to await the spring, but a successful surprise attack by George Washington on Trenton on December 26 stirred him to action. Cornwallis steadily maneuvered Washington into a precarious position. Rather than risk defeat in another standup fight with Cornwallis, Washington took 4,600 men on a nighttime march north to attack an isolated garrison at Princeton.
Washington met British Col. Charles Mawhood and 800 of his men 1.5 miles west of Princeton. Mawhood was heading toward Trenton when the opposing forces met. His men fired one volley and charged with bayonets, Maj. Gen. High Mercer was mortally wounded, and the Patriots fell back. General Washington arrived with reinforcements in the nick of time.
If patriot-turned-traitor Benedict Arnold’s reputation wasn’t already bad enough, the massacre of American forces at Fort Griswold earned him a particularly reviled place in American historical memory.
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The Battle of Fort Griswold (or Battle of Groton Heights) was fought on September 6, 1781 in Groton, Connecticut, between the American garrison commanded by Lt. Col. William Ledyard and British forces commanded by Patriot-turned-loyalist Brig. Gen. Benedict Arnold and Lt. Col. Edmund Eyre during the Revolutionary War. The battle was a British victory; Fort Griswold was seized and New London burned, but the British did not achieve any long term gains. The British surrender at Yorktown, Virginia a month later effectively ended the war in the Continental US.
Brig. Gen. Benedict Arnold’s raid on New London, Connecticut was an attempt to divert General George Washington from attacking Lord Cornwallis’s army in Virginia. Arnold, who was from the area, believed Fort Griswold, across the Thames River from New London, was only partially constructed and would not be difficult to seize. By the time he realized his mistake, Lt. Col. Edmund Eyre’s assault force had already engaged the fort and it was too late to recall them.
Eyre attempted to persuade the fort’s 150 defenders to surrender, but they vowed to fight. The first British assault was scattered by artillery. Major William Montgomery then stormed the fort at a sparsely-defended point, but was killed by a freed slave named Jordan Freeman. Montgomery’s men opened the gate from the inside, and the garrison attempted to surrender.
Colonial history is alive in the small Connecticut town of Ridgefield, where visitors can still see a British cannonball embedded in a wooden post in a former local tavern.
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The Battle of Ridgefield was fought on April 27, 1777 between American Colonial forces commanded by Maj. Gen. David Wooster and Brig. Gen. Benedict Arnold and British forces commanded by Maj. Gen. William Tryon around Ridgefield, Connecticut during the Revolutionary War. The battle was a tactical success for the British, but their actions galvanized Patriot support in Connecticut. Enrollments in the Continental Army soared, and the British limited their operations in Connecticut to coastal raiding.
In spring, 1777, New York Royal Governor Maj. Gen. William Tryon landed on the Connecticut coastline with 1,500 regulars and 300 loyalist militia with the objective of destroying a military supply depot in Danbury, Connecticut. It took too long for colonial militia to muster to save the depot, and on the morning of April 27, the British torched Patriot homes in Danbury and moved south toward Ridgefield.
Brig. Gen. Benedict Arnold, with approximately 500 men, erected barricades throughout Ridgefield, while Maj. Gen. David Wooster pursued the British with 200 men. Wooster harassed their rear guard, but at one point the British put up a stiff defense bolstered with cannon. Wooster reportedly called out, “Come on my boys! Never mind such random shots!” moments before being mortally wounded.
In 1778, two armies slugged it out in sweltering heat in these east-central New Jersey fields. Though technically a draw, the Continental Army showed it could finally stand toe-to-toe with the best soldiers in the British Army.
After France’s entry into the war on the American side, British Lt. Gen. Sir Henry Clinton withdrew his army from Philadelphia and retreated toward New York City, which was under British control. He sent several thousand Tory volunteers and most of his supplies down the Delaware River, while his remaining 10,000-man army marched overland. General Washington’s 12,000-man army caught up with them at Monmouth Court House.
Washington sent Maj. Gen. Charles Lee and Marquis de Lafayette forward with 5,000 men to attack Clinton’s 1,500-man rearguard. When Clinton turned Maj. Gen. Cornwallis’ forces around to strike Lee’s left flank, the Americans broke and withdrew in confusion. Just then, General Washington arrived ahead of the rest of his army and sharply rebuked Lee. He cobbled together a defensive line, but that also broke under relentless British attacks. Washington’s third line held.