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Battle of Long Island - 1776

Updated: Dec 22, 2022

There are countless reasons for my infatuation of The American Revolution, but one is very personal.

My 5th Great-Grandfather, Peter Kern, and his 2 brothers fought for freedom in the war. Peter Kern fought in this battle, and also the Battle of Fort Washington. He was part of what was called a Flying Camp. The Flying Camp originated as an emergency method to make available reliable troops for the American Army in mid-1776. The Flying Camp resembles the “minutemen” but with far greater numbers.

The archives show Peter was wounded, missing/captured or killed in this battle. Since he fought in future battles, he was either wounded or missing. I haven’t found any proof from his writings or otherwise mentioning an injury or being captured, so I presume he was missing at muster. This is just an assumption, he could have been injured or captured, and then released. Record keeping back then wasn’t as accurate as I would like. You can learn more about my ancestor by clicking here and scrolling to the bottom, which includes nine (9) photos.

The Battle of Long Island, also known as the Battle of Brooklyn, was a crucial engagement during the American Revolutionary War. It took place on August 27, 1776, and pitted the Continental Army, led by General George Washington, against the British Army, led by General William Howe.

At the time, the Continental Army was still in its early stages of development, and was vastly outnumbered by the British forces. Washington and his men were entrenched on the western end of Long Island, in present-day Brooklyn, while the British army had landed on the eastern end and was moving to surround them.

Battle of Long Island - American Revolution, Revolutionary War, Patriot Power Podcast
Battle of Long Island

The battle began early in the morning, with the British launching a surprise attack on the Continental Army's positions. Despite the element of surprise, the Continental Army initially held their ground, with several units putting up fierce resistance. However, as the day wore on, the superior numbers and training of the British army began to take its toll.

Rather than losing his entire army to the British, Washington ordered the army to retreat to Brooklyn Heights. Several hundred men from Maryland, who would later become known as the Maryland 400, held off the British while the army retreated. Many of them were killed.

Battle of Long Island - American Revoution, Revolutionary War, Patriot Power Podcast
The Maryland 400 hold off the British to give the US Army time to retreat

Instead of finishing off the Americans, the British leaders halted the attack. They didn't want to needlessly sacrifice British troops as they had at the Battle of Bunker Hill. They also figured that the Americans had no way to escape.

By the afternoon, the Continental Army was in full retreat, with Washington narrowly escaping capture by fleeing across the East River to Manhattan. He did so because out of nowhere, a fog descended on the area, providing cover for the retreat. This is one of many instances where weather “miraculously“ saved the Continental Army. It has been noted by many sources, that Washington was the last man to leave. The British army pursued the retreating Americans, and although not capturing the army, they had gained control of Brooklyn and most of Long Island.

The Battle of Long Island was a significant setback for the Continental Army, and it led to the eventual British occupation of New York City. However, it also served as a rallying cry for the American colonists, and helped to establish the belief that the British could be defeated. Despite their defeat on Long Island, the Continental Army courageously continued their journey towards freedom from England.

Battle of Long Island - American Revolution, Revolutionary War, Patriot Power Podcast
Battle of Long Island Map

Interesting Facts about the Battle of Long Island

  • The British had double the troops, 20,000 British, Americans around 10,000.

  • Almost half (9,000) of the British troops were Hessians, which were German mercenaries, who were highly skilled and feared.

  • The Americans suffered around 1000 casualties including 300 killed. Around 1,000 Americans were also captured. The British suffered around 350 casualties.

  • The battle showed both sides that the war wouldn't be quick nor easy, and that many men would likely die before its end.

Other Links

  • A short article and video about this battle can be viewed here.

  • A great video about the battle, which is under 4 minutes long, can be seen here.

  • Listen to my podcast, which includes Bonus Episodes, here.

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