Revolutionary War Raids & Skirmishes in 1776
Revolutionary War Raids & Skirmishes in 1776
JANUARY OF 1776
January 1-2, 1776 at Norfolk, Virginia - On December 14, Col.
Robert Howe and his North Carolina Regiment entered Norfolk and took overall command of the American forces in the town. Lord Dunmore and his Tory recruits had taken refuge aboard several British ships in the harbor. He demanded provisions from the town for himself and his troops. After hearing this demand, the townspeople refused to send him some provisions and to allow him to send a foraging
party ashore. The militia had even started to take potshots at the British ships. Dunmore asked Howe to stop the militia from firing on the ships and Howe declined. On December 31, during the morning, Dunmore announced that he would open fire and bombard Norfolk because of the lack of cooperation.
January 5, 1776 at Haddrell's Point, South Carolina - On
January 5, the HMS Tamar and HMS Cherokee detained a fishing sloop that was leaving Sullivan's Island. In response to this, the 1st South Carolina Regiment, located on the island, sent out an auger full of armed troops to reclaim the fishing boat. The British ships fired on them, forcing the Patriots back to shore. While this was going on, the 4th South Carolina Artillery were manning the fort at
Haddrell's Point. They fired on the British ships, stopping them from chasing the Patriot ship. Neither side had much effect. On January 6, the British ships left the harbor.
January 8, 1776 at Charlestown, Massachusetts - On January 8,
a performance of British Gen. John Burgoyne's farce "The Blockade of Boston" was ironically interrupted by the announcement that some American troops were conducting a raid. The audience mistakenly thought the announcement, made by an actor dressed in the uniform of a Continental Army sargeant, marked the opening of the play. The raid, led by Maj. Thomas Knowlton, succeeded in capturing 5 British
prisoners and burning 8 houses. Knowlton's force did not suffer any casualties.
January 12-14, 1776 at Narragansett Bay, Rhode Island - The
H.M.S. Glasgow and H.M. Sloop Swan landed a raiding force of approximately 250 Soldiers and Royal Marines at Prudence Island on January 12, 1776. The British drove off a company of 50 men under the command of Ensign James Miller of the third Company of Richmond's Regiment. The British after driving off Miller's command, began confiscating supplies, carrying away the remaining live stock, and
burning numerous homes and barns. The raiders continued their pillage and plunder into the morning of the 13th until they were challenged by Captain William Barton initially leading a contingent of 60 men from Richmond's Regiment who began skirmishing near the Farnham’s Farm. Many other Rhode Island companies crossed the bay to join in the engagement. The contest raged for three hours as American
reinforcements continued to arrive and bolster their numbers. The British were eventually compelled to retire to their ships under an increasingly incessant fire. They suffered the loss of 14 dead and suffered many wounded.
January 17, 1776 at Johnstown, New York - On January 17, Sir
John Johnson, a noted Loyalist and son of deceased former Superintendent of Indian Affairs Sir William Johnson, was forced to make terms with Maj. Gen. Philip Schuyler. Johnson had accumulated munitions at his estate, Johnson Hall, and had mustered 200 Loyalist Highlanders and a force of Mohawk Indians there, lending credence to reports that he represented a danger to the patriots in the area.
Dispatching a force of 3,000 militia to the environs of Johnson Hall, Schuyler obliged Johnson to disarm his followers, surrender the armaments, and submit to imprisonment leading to parole under the orders of Congress. Tory resistance in the Albany area was effectively terminated.
FEBRUARY OF 1776
MARCH OF 1776
March 1, 1776 at Cockspur Island, Georgia - On March 1, a
British force, commanded by Maj. John Maitland, landed on Cockspur Island. Once there, they met and skirmished with the local Patriot militia. The militia was eventually forced to withdraw.
March 2-3, 1776 at Yamacraw Bluff, South Carolina - The Battle
of the Rice Boats took place in the Savannah River on the border between the Province of Georgia and the Province of South Carolina. The battle pitted the American militia against the proud British Navy. It is sometimes referred to as the battle of Yamacraw Bluff.
March 2-4, 1776 at Dorchester Heights, Massachusetts - Gen.
George Washington had sneaked 59 cannon and positioned his troops on top of Dorchester Heights, overlooking Boston. This gave the colonists the advantage of targeting the British, who were stationed in the city and harbor, below. Washington had hoped Gen. William Howe and his troops would either flee or try to take the hill. Howe chose to
March 2-4, 1776 at Hutchinson's Island, Georgia - On March
2-4, Maj. James Grant landed at Hutchinson's Island with 300 British troops. Their mission was to attempt to retake some captured British merchant ships. At 4:00 A.M., they were able to board the ships and captured the American crew. Some of the crew escaped and managed to warn Col. Lachlan McIntosh, local commander of the Georgia troops, that the British had retaken the ships.
March 3-4, 1776 at Nassau, Bahamas - The American navy's first
planned operation resulted in the capture of New Providence and substantial supplies of munitions as plunder. Esek Hopkins' fleet of 8 ships sailed into the port town of Nassau Island. Some 200 marines of the newly formed Marine Corps, under Samuel Nicholas, comprised the major part of the landing party that occupied the town and its 2 forts. Fort Nassau was the principal fort on the
March 7, 1776 at Savannah, Georgia - Earlier in the year, Gov.
Sir james Wright gave up hope of keeping the revolution out of Georgia. He appealed to Gen. Thomas Gage and Adm. ?? Graves for armed British support. When 2 British warships and a loaded transport ship arrived in response to Wright's request, the council of safety arrested Wright and other official to prevent their rallying Georgia Loyalists. On January 18, a group of patriots captured Wright and placed him under house arrest. On February 11, he escaped that night and took refuge aboard the HMS Scarsborough. On March 6, the British warships travelled upriver and captured 11 merchant vessels filled with rice. The transport ship unloaded the British troops, commanded by Maj. John Maitland and Maj. James Grant, at Hutchinson's Island. The Americans sent a warning to the British to withdraw from the island, which the British ignored.
On March 7, the Americans set fire to 2 merchant ships and sent them drifting towards the British transport ship. When the British saw the 2 ships heading toward their transport ship, they paniced. Around this same time, Col. ?? Bull arrived in the area with 400 Carolinians. With all of this going on, they decided to
abandone their plans for attacking the town. The town was opposite the island. The British withdrew from the area, leaving only 2 of the merchant ships intact.
March 9, 1776 at Chariton Creek, Virginia - On March 9, the
USS Defence, and Maryland militiamen attacked and drove off the HMS Otter. The Otter was one of the ships in Lord Dunmore's "navy" in Chesapeake Bay.
March 10-12, 1776 at Fort Johnson, North Carolina - On March
10, Capt. Francis Parry, commander of the HMS Cruizer, sent a 12-man party to destroy Fort Johnson. The local Patriot militia onshore spotted the party and drove them away with gunfire. On March 12, British reinforcements arrived with the arrival of Adm. Henry Clinton's fleet,
which came from the Cape Fear River area. After learning of the British defeat at the Battle of Moore's Creek Bridge, he decided not to land any troops on the mainland because it would be too dangerous.
March 11, 1776 at Hutchinson's Island, Georgia - On March 11,
Col. Stephen Bull learned of the British attack on Savannah. He was ordered to embark from Purysburgh with a relief force of 400 South Carolina miliamen. They left and moved down the Savannah River, landing on Hutchinson's Island. Upon their arrival, they spotted and fired on some British troops. The British quickly scattered across the island, leaving 2 artillery pieces behind.
March 14, 1776 at Sandy Point, South Carolina - On March 14, a
couple of South Carolina tenders were sailing up river at Sandy Point when they encountered a small Loyalist ship coming down the river with a cargo of flour. The Loyalists quickly ran their ship aground and fled. The tenders stayed with the ship, trying to work it loose. The Tories regrouped and opened fire on the tenders. They fired back at the Tories. When the tide came in, the tenders were
able to work free the Loyalist ship and carried it downstream to Charlestown.
March 25, 1776 at Tybee Island, Georgia - On March 25, a
raiding party of Creek Indians and Georgia militia, painted like Indians, attacked 12 British Marines on Tybee Island. The militia was commanded by Capt. Archibald Bullock. The British had been sent to Tybee Island with 12 slaves to cut wood and collect water. They were not armed.
APRIL OF 1776
MAY OF 1776
May 1-3, 1776 at Fort Johnson, North Carolina - On May 1, Maj.
Gen. Henry Clinton destroyed Fort Johnson because of American riflemen had used the fort to fire on the nearby British naval fleet for days. The fleet moved to within 200 yards from the shore, and were still being fired on from the militia. On May 2, Clinton landed 10 companies near Fort Johnson to try to eliminate the
snipers. After landing, the snipers were nowhere to be found. The British searched 4 miles inland and still found nothing. On May 3, in the morning, the American snipers returned to their positions. They fired on the Cruizer, and the Cruizer fired back. This silenced the snipers. This cleared the area of the militia at Fort
May 6, 1776 at Plains of Abraham, Quebec - On May 6, the
British fleet arrived in Quebec. Gen. Guy Carleton, having recieved a report that the American army was preparing to retreat from the Plains of Abraham, formed a reconnaissance mission. With 4 guns and 900 men, including the first 200 men to disembark from the ships, he approached the American encampment. Gen. John Thomas could only muster 250 troops to oppose the British force, and the Americans
fled westward in a panic, abandoning 200 sick comrades and muskets and artillery. Carleton decided not to pursue them but to await the full complement of reinforcements under Gen. John Burgoyne, swelling the British force at Quebec to 13,000 men.
May 11, 1776 at Orton, North Carolina - On May 11, the
British force marched from Kendal Plantation to the Orton Mill. At the mill, was a 90-man detachment of North Carolina Regulars, commanded by Maj. William Davis. Davis learned of the British approach and withdrew his force. Once the British troops arrived, they proceeded to burn the mill. On their way back to their ships, the British plundered homes along the
May 12-13, 1776 at Cockspur Island, Georgia - On May 12, a
raiding party of Georgians sailed to Cockspur Island. At 11:00 A.M., they made their way to the British post on Cockspur Island. They were attempting to capture "a White Man a Pilot & some Negroes." The British discovered the raiders before they attacked. They fired on the raiders, killing one of them instantly. The raiders withdrew back to their boats to
escape from the island. The sloops HMS Raven and HMS Cherokee sent a detachment of sailors in 3 boats to the west end of the island to prevent the raiders from escaping. They managed to capture one of the raider's boats that contained 3 wounded men. They prisoners told them that an armed schooner,
commanded by Capt. John Brown, was waiting for them up the Savannah River at 4 Mile Point. On May 13, in the morning, the naval detachment sailed up the Savannah River in a pinnace and 2 boats. They were trying to find the armed schooner. Two other boats were assigned to guard Cockspur Island while they were conducting their
attack. The sailors quickly captured the schooner along with its 8-man crew. The schooner was taken back to the island. At 11:00 P.M., the British captured 3 more raiders as they were trying to escape up the river.
May 17, 1776 at Brunswick Town, North Carolina - On May 17,
Col. Charles Cornwallis was sent on a secret mission. His mission was to take 900 British Regulars and sail up the Cape Fear River to Brunswick Town. Once there, they were to burn the town. The town was a base camp of American rebels. The British surprised the sentinentals on the outskirts of town. They quickly took possession of the town and found a small garrison there. They proceeded to burn
the town and took 20 bulls and 6 horses.
JUNE OF 1776
June 14, 1776 at Sorel, Canada - On June 14, Gen. John
Sullivan ordered a retreat to Lake Champlain. He loaded his 2,500 men aboard bateaux and evacuated the entire city. The British fleet arrived within an hour of the Americans' departure and occupied Sorel.
June 24, 1776 at Ile aux Nois, Quebec - The retreating
American force, with Col. Benedict Arnold's and Brig. Gen. John Sullivan's troops now combined, paused at Ile aux Nois. Although numbering 8,000 men, the majority of them were suffering from smallpox, dysentary, or malaria. All of them were suffering from exhaustion, hunger, hardship, and the demoralization of defeat. With all of these, the Americans were barely able to repulse a modest British
probe by an advance guard. Sullivan ordered the retreat to continue, accepting the failure of the Canada expedition.
June 26, 1776 at Seneca, South Carolina - On June 26, Capt.
James McCall and a 30-man detachment from the South Carolina Rangers were sent on a peace mission to the Cherokee Nation. The Rangers were ambushed at Seneca by a party of Indians. McCall was captured but later escaped from his captors.
JULY OF 1776
July ??, 1776 at Quaker Meadows, North Carolina - On July,
Capt. Matthias Barringer and 7 militiamen went on a scouting expedition in the Quaker Meadows area. They were spotted by a Cherokee war party, who proceeded to massacre the Americans. This attack would cause a severe retalliation against the Indians. From the carolinas to Virginia, 4,000 militia came to destroy the Cherokee villages. Even some of the Loyalists joined up with the
July 1, 1776 at Seneca, South Carolina - On July 1, Capt.
James McCall and a 20-man South Carolina Ranger detachment were sent to bring back some prisoners. The Indians at Seneca had encouraged Maj. ?? Williamson to send McCall because they trusted him. When McCall and his men approached Seneca, the Cherokees came out to meet the soldiers. McCall, his lieutenant, and another soldier was invited into town to eat dinner with the Indian chief. That night,
the Indians attacked the Rangers camp. many of the Rangers managed to escape by fleeing the area but McCall and 6 others were captured.
July 3-12, 1776 at McDowell's Station, North Carolina - On
July 3-12, the Cherokee Indians attacked and laid siege to McDowell's Station. The Station was located at Quaker Meadows, along the upper Catawba River. The Indians killed 37 settlers on the river during this time. The remaining settlers in the area went to the fort for protection from the Cherokees. When the siege started, Col. Charles McDowell had 10 men and 120 women and children in the fort.
July 8-10, 1776 at Gwynn Island, Virginia - On January 1, Lord
Dunmore, Virginia's royal governor, set fire to Norfolk and established a base at Gwynn Island. Gwynn Island was located just south of the mouth of the Rappahannock River. The island of 2,000 acres was 500 yards from the mainland. With his small British fleet and about 500 Tory troops, including runaway slaves, Dunmore had hoped to maintain a foothold in his province and establish a base from
which to raid the neighboring plantations. On January 8, Gen. Andrew Lewis arrived with a brigade of Virginia troops to eliminate this last vestige of royal authority. On July 9, at 8:00 A.M., from 500 yards away, Lewis opened fire with 3 rounds from an
18-lb. gun on the HMS Dunmore. With a 18-lb. gun and a second battery of lighter guns, Lewis bombarded Dunmore's fleet, camp, and fortifications. For an hour, the bombardment continued. Most of Dunmore's fleet tried to escape. Some were run aground and burned by their crew. A few ships fired back at the American position but they were quickly silenced. Lewis stopped his bombardment and gave
Dunmore a chance to surrender.At noon, Dunmore never answered back so Lewis started the bombardment again. Dunmore and his remaining ships managed to escape from the bombardment. The victorious Americans found numerous graves and dead and dying victims of smallpox when they crossed to the
July 15, 1776 at Lyndley's Fort, South Carolina - On July 15,
a group of Patriot settlers had taken refuge in Lyndley's Fort. The fort was located near Rabon Creek in Laurens County. They were attacked by a group of Loyalists and Indians. During the attack, the patroits were reinforced by 150 militia. This helped them to beat off the the attackers and routing them.
July 16, 1776 at St. George's Island, Maryland - On July 16, the British force, commanded by Lord William Dunmore, landed part of the force on St. George's Island, near the mouth of the Potomac River. The British was driven off by the local militia.
July 20, 1776 at Island Flats, Tennessee - On July 20,
Dragging Canoe sent 20 Indians ahead of his main party as the advance guard. At the same time, 20 militiamen were sent out from Eaton's Station. They learned of the Indians approach and set up an ambush for them. When the Indians arrived, they were ambushed with several of them wounded. As the Indians withdrew back to the main body, Capt. James Thompson and 150 militiamen set forth from Eaton's
Station and headed towards the Indian camp. Dragging canoe learned of this and set up an ambush for the Americans. as the militia's rear column passed through the ambush site, the Indians attacked. The battle lasted for about an hour. With the Indians suffering more casualties (13k) than the militia (4w), the Indians broke off the attack. When Dragging Canoe was wounded in the thigh, the Indians
broke off and withdrew.
July 20-August 2, 1776 at Watauga, Tennessee (Siege of Fort Caswell/Watauga) - The nearby settlers came to Fort caswell for protection from the marauding Indians. The fort was commanded by Lt. Col. John Carter and was located on the Sycamore Shoals. They were reinforced by the garrison of Fort Lee, commanded by Lt. John Sevier. Carter was warned by Nancy Ward that a group of 300 Indians were being
led by Old Abraham and Great Warrior were coming to attack them. On July 20, women working outside the fort discovered the Indians and fled into the fort, warning the remainder of the garrison. The Indians fired on the fort, with the defenders firing back. When the Indians began suffering casualties, they backed off and laid
siege to the fort. For 2 weeks, each side would take pot-shots at each other, without accomplishing anything. On August 2, a relief force under Col. William Russel arrived at the fort and broke the siege.
July 21, 1776 at Dewee's Inlet, South Carolina - On July 21,
the transport HMS Glasgow Packet becam stuck on a sand bar at Dewee's Inlet. It sent out a small boat to alert the rest of the fleet that it was stuck and to send some help. The fleet was 12 miles away and upon hearing of the problem, sent the schooner HMS St. Lawrence and a flat-bottomed boat to assist
the stuck ship. A South Carolina Row Battery, commanded by Lt. Francis Pickering, discovered the Glasgow Packet and fired on it. Because of the angle of the ship being stuck on the shoal, it was unable to bring its guns to bear on the Patriot boat. At 4:00 P.M., the South
Carolinians boarded the Glasgow Packet and captured it. On board were 43 men of the Royal Highland Emigrants, 6 sailors, and 2 black Boatswains. On July 22, the St. Lawrence arrived in the area to rescue the ship. Just as it reached the bar, the South Carolinians set fire to the
July 23, 1776 at Occoquan Creek, Virginia - On July 23, Lord
William Dunmore was sailing his British force up the Potomac River when he turned into the Occoquan Creek to its falls and village. Once the British landed at the village, they proceeded to destroy the mill. By this time, the Prince William County militia arrived and drove off the British force.
AUGUST OF 1776
August 1, 1776 at Senecca, South Carolina - On August 1,
Col. Andrew Williamson was leading an expedition against a band of Cherokees, commanded by Alexander Cameron. Williams force was attacked in the early morning by a superior Indian force. The patriots were forced to withdraw and would have been anniliated if not for Col. Leroy Hammond. Hammond arrived with his mounted cavalry and made a charge into the Indians. This forced the Indian advance to
halt. The patroits were then able to retreat in good order.
August 10, 1776 at Tugaloo, South Carolina - On August 10, a
group of Cherokees were defeated by a Patriot force, commanded by Col. Andrew Pickens. The patriots then proceeded to raze the Indian towns of Tugaloo and Estatoe.
August 12, 1776 at Tomassy, South Carolina - On August 12, a
Patriot expedition, commanded by Cols. Andrew Williamson and Andrew Pickens, encountered a large Cherokee war party near the Indian town of Tomassy. The Indians were defeated with twice as many casualties as the patriots. After their victory, the patriots burned the town.
August 11, 1776 at Little River, South Carolina - On August
11, Maj. Andrew Pickens and a 25-man detachment rode out from Williamson's camp on Little River to do a reconnaissance mission. About 2 miles from camp, they were crossing an abandoned cornfield when they were surprised and surrounded by 185 Cherokees. Pickens ordered his men to form 2 circles within each other and to fire their guns in relay. Some of the Indians rushed the ring, but were killed
by bayonet, hatchet, or knives. Pickens brother came with a rescue party soon after the attack started. The Indians broke off the fight and withdrew. The battle was also known as the "Ring Fight."
August 15, 1776 at Roanoke Inlet, North Carolina - On August
15, the British landed a 25-man foraging party near Roanoke Inlet. They were to capture some cattle they had earlier seen. On shore, Capt. Dennis Gauge commanded an independent militia company that patrolled between Currituck and Roanoke. The militia discovered the British and attacked them. The militia killed some of the British and captured the
August 16, 1776 at Tappan Sea, New York - On August 16, the
Americans, commanded by Lt. Col. Benjamin Tupper, again tried to assault the 5 British ships at anchor. This time, they sent some fire rafts against the British.
August 23, 1776 at Long Island, New York - Near Bedford Pass
on Long island, American soldiers, commanded by Col. Edward Hand, attacked a Hessian outpost. This forced Col. Carl von Donop's men to withdraw. A counterattack forced their own retreat in turn.
August 28, 1776 at Brookland, New York - During the Battle of Long Island, Brig. Gen. nathaniel Woodhull and 100 militia had been posted on the eastern end of the island. Their mission was to protect the inhabitants and driving the cattle out of the British reach. When the Americans lost at Long Island, Woodhull gathered his force and moved to his
headquarters at Jamacia. There, he awaited any further orders and reinforcements. On August 28, during the night, Sir William Erskine and about 700 British troops headed towards Jamacia. They surprised Woodhull and many of his men at the Carpenter's house in a surprise attack. Many of the militia were captured, including
Woodhull. Woodhull would eventually die while as a British prisoner.
SEPTEMBER OF 1776
September 6-7, 1776 at Bald Head Island, North Carolina - On
September 6, during the night, Col. Thomas Polk sailed with 150 soldiers of the 4th North Carolina Regiment landed on Bald Head Island. As they were travelling through the woods, they were discovered by 5 sailors from the HMS Cruizer. The Patriots
captured the sailors but the alarm had already been sounded. The rest of the ship's crew took refuge at Fort George and fired on the Patriots. The fort's firing alerted the British ships near the island and a relief force was sent ashore. The sloop-of-war HMS Falcon fired its cannon into the woods at the Patriots. This was to give the relief party a
chance to arrive safely. Polk decided to withdraw his force. As they were leaving, they burned a British cutter so that it would not pursue them. The Cruizer quickly mounted 4 of her 3-lb. cannon aboard the sloop HMS Defiance. Lt. ?? Dickerson, commander of the Defiance, sailed with 5 other ships around the island to block any escape by Polk's force.On September 7, at 1:00 A.M., Dickerson discovered 2 of Polk's boats at Buzzard's Bay, located near the mainland. The Defiance and the Falcon fired into the woods at the bay, but the Patriots returned fire with a 3lb. cannon. This kept the British ships away. The British were unable to destroy the boats and withdrew their fleet before sunrise.
September 19, 1776 at Coweecho River, South Carolina - On
September 19, Col. Andrew Williamson was leading a column of South Carolina Patriots when they were ambushed by a group of Cherokees in a steep, wooded gorge of the Coweecho River. This place was known as the "Black Hole." After suffering heavy casualties, the Patriots made a frontal attack and was able to clear the
September 23, 1776 at Montresor's Island, New York - From this
vantage point, which they occupied on September 10, the British navy could land their troops above Harlem or could flank the Americans at Kingsbridge. So Brig. Gen. ?? Heath secured Gen. George Washington's permission to send 240 men, under Lt. Col. Michael Jackson, to try to retake the island. On September 23, Jackson and
the men in the first boat landed near dawn and was immediately attacked. The other 2 boats withdrew instead of coming to Jackson's aid. Following their return, the 2 boatloads of "delinquents" were arrested and held for court-martial.
OCTOBER OF 1776
October 12, 1776 at Split Rock, New York - On October 12, at
dawn, Col. Benedict Arnold anchored 5 of his ships at Schuyler's Island; the other boats had to sail farther ahead. He found 2 of his ships so badly damaged that they must be scuttled; a third ship ran aground. The 2 remaining boats sailed in pursuit of the fleet. Surprised and enraged to find the Americans have escaped, Gen. Guy Carleton hastened after them. He caught up with them at Split Rock,
where one American ship ran aground and 2 others were captured. Arnold's USS Congress sailed on to Crown Point, finding the rest of his fleet already there.
October 12, 1776 at Throg's Point, New York - Gen. William
Howe embarked with most of his army aboard 80 ships, traversed treacherous Hell Gate, and landed 4,000 troops on Throg's Point (Neck) in an effort to outflank the American position on Harlem Heights. On October 12, when the British attempted to cross a causeway and a ford to Manhatten, American musket fire from only 25
rangers, under Col. Edward Hand, drove the British back. The small American force was reinforced and both sides dug in. Howe's remaining force landed later in the day.
October 22, 1776 at Mamaroneck, New York - On October 22, Col.
John Haslet, with about 750 men, attacked Maj. Roger Rogers' 500-man corps of Tories, "The Queen's American Rangers." Though they lost the element of surprise, Haslet managed to capture 36 of the Tories and some muskets, which they brought to White Plains.
NOVEMBER OF 1776
November 16, 1776 at City, New York - On November 16, while
the British were attacking Fort Washington, Lord Hugh Percy and a column of his men drove in the American pickets at harlem Cove. Once this was done, the British launched their attack in the old Harlem Heights defenses.
DECEMBER OF 1776
December 7, 1776 at Tappan, New York - On December 7, a force
of Tories and British marauders, known as "cowboys," pillaged the town of Tappan. They tormented local patriots and cut down their liberty pole.
December 8, 1776 at Newport, Rhode Island - Gen. Sir Henry
Clinton, under orders from Gen. William Howe, who had found Clinton's insistent advice aggrevating, sailed into Newport with 6,000 soldiers and took possession of Newport without any resistance.
December 13, 1776 at Basking Ridge, New Jersey -
On December 12, Maj. Gen. Charles Lee made camp a few miles south of Morristown. He was on his way to join Gen. George Washington's force. For reasons unknown, Lee did not stay at the camp but instead, he went to White's Tavern near Basking Ridge, about
3 miles from the American camp. Lee brought along a guard detachment of 19 troops with him. Gen. James Cornwallis had learned that there was an American force close to his rear. He sent a cavalry detachment to patrol from his headquarters at Pennington, which was about 30 miles south of Lee's camp, to locate the American camp. Lt. Col. William Harcourt, with 29 cavalrymen from the 16th Light
Horse and Lt. Col. Banastre Tarleton, headed north that night. On December 13, after a brief rest, the British patrol headed towards Morristown. When they were about 5 miles from Basking Ridge, a local Tory gave them information that stated where the location of the main American camp was. After capturing 2 American sentrys,
they sentrys told Harcourt that Lee and his guard detachment were located at the tavern. Not knowing if this information was correct, Harcourt sent Tarleton and 2 cavalrymen to a small hilltop nearby for some observation. Once Tarleton captured an American soldier and reported back to Harcourt, stating that the information was indeed correct. At 8:00 A.M., Lee ordered his force to move forward but he stayed back at the tavern to finsh some paperwork. At 10:00 A.M., just after finishing up his paperwork, the British attacked the tavern from 2 sides. The British overwhelmed the guard detachment, which lee observed from an upstairs window. The British then opened fire on the
tavern. Lee had waited for 15 minutes before deciding to send his Aide de Camp, Maj. William Bradford, to the door to give himself up. The British gathered up the wounded and the prisoners and headed back to Pennington. They forgot to search the tavern and a few American soldiers escaped and returned to the American lines, informing Washington of Lee's capture. A search party was sent but by this
time, the British forces had lee back at their headquarters.
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