(Part of the American Revolutionary War)
In the wake of the revolutionary war, the Americans on August 27th, 1776, engaged with the British in the Battle of Long Island. The British had been holding strong in Boston for a good year before George Washington and his troops seized the area for the Americans. Washington had begun to fear that a strike upon New York was imminent, and therefore moved his troops into the city before any attack could begin.
Washington met up with his troops after they had already entered the city on August 13th, 1776. He waited until he knew that the British were going to try to take over New York. Perhaps one of the boldest figures remembered in the Battle of Long Island, was Nathan Hale. Thought to be the first American spy, Hale had lived a very educated life, and had begun to teach others at the tender age of eighteen. Once he learned of the war at hand, Hale went and enlisted to serve his country in 1775, as part of the Revolutionary War. On August 22, Colonel Edward Hand sent word to Washington, that the British Army was crossing the narrows outside of Brooklyn and into Staten Island. The Battle of Long Island had begun as Lieutenant General Sir William Howe led over 30,000 troops into the island under the commands of Major General Charles Cornwallis and Major General Sir Henry Clinton.
After spending several weeks on Staten Island, the British forces grew to 34,000 and ended their journey in Gravesend Bay. Meanwhile, Washington’s Army, led in part by Major General Israel Putnam, took the area of Flatbush and protected it.
General William Alexander, also under the command of Washington, led his troops to New York. After only seven days of battle, Washington knew that he had lost by the 3,000 or more lives captured, wounded and killed. In the night of August 29th, Washington withdrew his troops and led them safely to Manhattan. He was lucky to have a heavy fog in the morning to finish his movement, because it was not completed by dawn as planned. On September 21st, 1776, a fire had begun in the city and was carried on by the wind leading to the burning of nearly 500 buildings. This is known as the great Fire of New York, and was believed to have been started by the opposing army according to both sides. During the fire and confusion, Hale agreed to cross enemy lines to gather information for his country. Hale was captured after being identified as an American soldier, and the next day he was hung by the British outside the Dove Tavern. This is where his famous words, “My only regret is I have but one life to give my country,” were uttered before his death.
The British maintained a stand in America during the Battle of Harlem Heights, the Battle of Fort Washington and the battle of White Plains. Finally in 1783, the British left New York and Long Island after signing the Treaty of Paris, and thus leaving Americans to live in freedom.