August, 1776: British land on Long Island
September 15, 1776: British occupy New York City
British Occupation Begins Maj. General William Howe made his first step toward taking control of New York City when he began to move from Staten Island to Long Island on August 22, 1776. On August 27, Howe defeated some of General George Washington's forces with his victory at the Battle of Long Island. However, Washington was able to evacuate many of his forces. Howe then paused in his campaign for more than two weeks while Washington attempted to shore up defenses.
On September 15, 1776, General Howe landed at Kip's Bay. General Washington's troops were spread so thinly here that he had to retreat and again saved many troops from being captured. Meanwhile, Howe entered the city of New York virtually unopposed. On September 16, he failed to drive Washington from Harlem Heights just north of the city. Howe again paused his campaign, this time for a month. During Howe's first week in possession of New York, much of it burned on the evening of September 20 and Nathan Hale was captured on September 21 and later hanged as a spy.
On October 12, General Howe resumed his campaign and by October 18, had outmaneuvered General Washington. Washington was forced to abandon Harlem Heights, which left Fort Washington isolated. Brig. General Nathanael Greene convinced Washington that the fort could be held. After a British assault failed on October 27, Howe moved against Washington at the Battle of White Plains on October 28. Washington was again forced to withdraw. Washington left some forces at Forts Washington and Lee, which overlooked opposite sides of the Hudson River.
General Greene had convinced General Washington that Fort Washington could be held, but Hessians easily overran it on November 16 resulting in the lost of important provisions and munitions including cannon. Maj. General Charles Lee had to hastily abandon Fort Lee only days later on November 18. He had already removed supplies and equipment, so the Continentals did not suffer another critical loss of equipments and supplies. After a brief respite, Howe then pursued General Washington across New Jersey in the closing month of 1776 before Washington secured a surprise victory at Trenton, New Jersey on December 26, 1776.
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