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  1. The U.S. Navy in the Great War
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The column had yet to run into any American troops when they reached Howard's Tavern also known as Howard's Half-Way House , just a few hundred yards from the Jamaica Pass. Five minutes after leaving the tavern, the five American militia officers stationed at the pass were captured without a shot fired, as they thought that the British were Americans.

By dawn, the British were through the pass and stopped so that the troops could rest. It was about two in the morning of August 27 that I was awakened by seeing a soldier at the side of my bed.

I got up and dressed and went down to the barroom, where I saw my father standing in one corner with three British soldiers before him with muskets and bayonets fixed. The army was then lying in the field in front of the house General Howe and another officer were in the barroom.

General Howe wore a camlet cloak over his regimentals. After asking for a glass of liquor from the bar, which was given him, he entered into familiar conversation with my father, and among other things said, "I must have some one of you to show me over the Rockaway Path around the pass.

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If you refuse I shall shoot you through the head. American pickets from Samuel John Atlee 's Pennsylvania regiment fired upon two British soldiers who were foraging in a watermelon patch near the inn. Around on August 27, the British approached the vicinity of the Red Lion with — troops.

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The American troops fired upon the British; after approximately two fusillades, they fled up the Gowanus Road toward the Vechte-Cortelyou House. Major Edward Burd had been in command, but he was captured along with a lieutenant and 15 privates. Parsons was a lawyer from Connecticut who had recently secured a commission in the Continental Army ; Atlee was a veteran of the French and Indian War in command of the First Regiment of Pennsylvania Musketry.

Putnam had been awakened by a guard at and told that the British were attacking through the Gowanus Pass. Following close behind was Parson's Connecticut regiment with men. Stirling led this combined force to reinforce Parsons and Atlee and stop the British advance.


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Stirling had a total of 1, troops at his command. Stirling placed Atlee's men in an apple orchard owned by Wynant Bennett on the south side of the Gowanus Road near present-day 3rd Avenue and 18th Street. Upon the approach of the British, the Americans:. Stirling took up positions with the Delaware and Maryland regiments just to the north of Atlee's men on the slopes of a rise of land between 18th and 20th streets.

Some of the Maryland troops were positioned on a small hill near 23rd Street, which the local Dutch called " Blokje Berg " Dutch for cube or block hill. At the base of this hill, the Gowanus Road crossed a small bridge over a ditch which drained a marshy area. When the British advanced up the Gowanus Road, the American troops fired upon them from positions on the north side of the ditch. To the left was Colonel Peter Kachline's Pennsylvania regiment. Just to the southeast of Blokje Berg were a few hills; amongst them was a hill which is the highest point in King's County at feet which came to be known as " Battle Hill ," in what is today Greenwood Cemetery by the cemetery's boundary of 23rd Street and 7th Avenue.

The British attempted to outflank the American positions by taking this hill. The Americans tried to prevent the British move, sending troops under Parsons and Atlee to take the hill. The British got there first but the Americans were able to dislodge them in fierce fighting. Battle Hill was the site of especially brutal fighting, with the Americans inflicting the highest number of casualties against the British troops during the entire Battle of Long Island.

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He was alleged to have been shot by a Pennsylvanian rifleman who had been sniping at the British from up in a tree. Among the American dead was Pennsylvania Colonel Caleb Parry, who was killed while rallying his troops. The Americans were still unaware that this was not the main British attack, in part due to the ferocity of the fighting and the number of British troops engaged. The Hessians, in the center under the command of General von Heister, began to bombard the American lines stationed at Battle Pass under the command of General John Sullivan.

The Americans were still under the assumption that Grant's attack up the Gowanus Road was the main thrust, and Sullivan sent four-hundred of his men to reinforce Stirling. Howe fired his signal guns at and the Hessians began to attack up Battle Pass, while the main army came at Sullivan from the rear. Heavy casualties mounted between the Americans and the British, and men on both sides fled out of fear.

By this point, the Hessians had overrun the advance guard on the heights and the American left had completely collapsed. It was later claimed, Americans who surrendered were bayoneted by the Hessians. At , Washington arrived from Manhattan. Stirling still held the line against Grant on the American right, to the west. However, Grant was reinforced by 2, marines, and he hit Stirling's center by , and Stirling was attacked on his left by the Hessians.

The only escape route left was across a Brouwer's millpond on the Gowanus Creek which was 80 yards wide, on the other side of Brooklyn Heights. Stirling ordered all of his troops to cross the creek, except a contingent of Maryland troops under the command of Gist. This group became known to history as the " Maryland ", although they numbered about — men. Stirling and Gist led the troops in a rear-guard action against the overwhelming numbers of British troops, which surpassed 2, supported by two cannons.

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  • After the last assault, the remaining troops retreated across the Gowanus Creek. Some of the men who tried to cross the marsh were bogged down in the mud and under musket fire, and others who could not swim were captured. Stirling was surrounded and, unwilling to surrender, broke through the British lines to von Heister's Hessians and surrendered to them.

    Two hundred fifty six Maryland troops were killed in the assaults in front of the Old Stone House, and fewer than a dozen made it back to the American lines. The American troops who were not killed or captured escaped behind the fortified American positions centered on Brooklyn Heights. Howe then ordered all of his troops to halt the attack, despite the protests of many officers in his command who believed that they should push on to Brooklyn Heights, in a move denounced by analysts as a bad mistake.

    Howe had decided against a direct frontal assault on the entrenched American positions, choosing instead to begin a siege and setting up lines of circumvallation around the American positions. He believed the Americans to be essentially trapped, with his troops blocking escape by land and the Royal Navy in control of the East River, which they would have to cross to reach Manhattan Island.

    Howe's failure to press the attack and the reasons for it have been disputed.

    1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/American Civil War

    He may have wished to avoid the casualties that his army suffered when attacking the Continentals under similar circumstances at the Battle of Bunker Hill. Howe told Parliament in that his essential duty was to avoid excessive British casualties for insufficient purpose, and capturing Brooklyn Heights would likely not have meant capturing the entire American army.

    I knew well that any considerable loss sustained by the army could not speedily, nor easily, be repaired. The loss of 1,, or perhaps 1, British troops, in carrying those lines, would have been but ill repaid by double that number of the enemy, could it have been supposed they would have suffered in that proportion.

    Washington and the army were surrounded on Brooklyn Heights with the East River to their backs. By doing this, the British would not have to cross over open ground to assault the American defenses as they did in Boston the year before. In command of the Pennsylvanian troops was Thomas Mifflin who, after arriving, volunteered to inspect the outer defenses and report back to Washington. On the afternoon of August 28, it began to rain and Washington had his cannons bombard the British well into the night. As the rain continued, George Washington sent a letter instructing General William Heath , who was at Kings Bridge between Manhattan and what is now the Bronx, to send every flat-bottomed boat and sloop without delay, in case battalions of infantry from New Jersey came to reinforce their position.

    Mifflin advised Washington to retreat to Manhattan while Mifflin and his Pennsylvania regiments made up the rear guard, holding the line until the rest of the army had withdrawn.

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    The troops were told that they were to gather up all their ammunition and baggage and prepare for a night attack. At , Glover and his Massachusetts men, who were sailors and fishermen, began to evacuate the troops. As more troops were evacuated, more were ordered to withdraw from the lines and march to the ferry landing. Wagon wheels were muffled, and men were forbidden to talk. At , on August 30, Mifflin was informed that it was his unit's turn to evacuate.

    When Mifflin's troops were within a half mile of the ferry landing, Washington rode up and demanded to know why they were not at their defenses. Edward Hand , who was leading the troops, tried to explain what had happened, but Mifflin arrived shortly. General Mifflin, I am afraid you have ruined us. Mifflin then led his troops back to the outer defenses.

    Artillery, supplies, and troops were all being evacuated across the river at this time but it was not going as fast as Washington had anticipated and daybreak soon came.