British General William Howe
Howe Secures New York City : May 1776-January 1777
On June 25, 1776, Maj. General William Howe arrived off Sandy Hook. On July 2, he landed on Staten Island without opposition with 9,300. After receiving reinforcements from his brother, Admiral Richard Howe, as well as other Hessian and British reinforcements from England and the arrival of the expedition that had failed to capture Charleston, Howe had over 31,000 troops. Of those men, when he began operations in August, 24,400 of them were fit for duty.
On August 27, 1776, General Howe soundly defeated General George Washington's forces at the Battle of Long Island in a brilliant tactical display. However, instead of pursuing the Americans and making the rout complete, he halted. This allowed the Americans to pull off their own brilliant operation in evacuating from the area on August 29-30. After speaking with Howe and his brother Admiral Richard Howe about their role as peace commissioners, captured Continental Maj. General John Sullivan was allowed to go speak to the Continental Congress. He was able to pursuade Congress to meet with the brothers. A committee was appointed on September 5 and on September 11, 1776, Benjamin Franklin, John Adams and Edward Rutledge met with Admiral Howe after General Howe excused himself. Admiral Howe was honest in that he had to receive the approval of London on anything discussed and that he had no real negotiating power.
Following the unsuccessful peace conference, General Howe landed his troops at Kip's Bay on September 15, 1776. Again, Howe perhaps missed an opportunity to decimate General Washington's troops. His advance guard was repulsed at the Battle of Harlem Heights on September 16. He now halted for nearly a month. Howe resumed his operations on October 12 and by October 18, had outmaneuvered Washington, forcing the Continental Commander to abandon Harlem Heights and leave Fort Washington isolated.
An assault on Fort Washington failed on October 27, but General Howe again defeated General Washington at the Battle of White Plains on October 28. Again, instead of pressing forward against the retreating Continentals, he turned back to capture Fort Washington, which had been bypassed. The fort was easily overrun on November 16, which netted the British 3,000 prisoners and a host of supplies. Only the Fall of Charleston would prove to be a more costly defeat in men and supplies for the rebels that Fort Washington. Howe then occupied Fort Lee on the New Jersey side of the Hudson River on November 20. In less than three months, Howe had driven Washington from not only New York City, but even New York state.
General Howe now began preparing to enter winter quarters. He detached 6,000 troops under Maj. General Henry Clinton to sail to Newport, Rhode Island. He also detached forces under Lt. General Charles Cornwallis to chase General Washington south of Brunswick, New Jersey and create a safe zone in northern New Jersey. On December 13, 1776, he entered winter quarters, while permitting Cornwallis to establish distant outposts at Trenton, Princeton, Burlington, Bordentown and Pennington, while his main camp was located at Brunswick. However, after General Washington's twin victories at Trenton on December 26, 1776 and Princeton on January 3, 1777, Howe ordered Cornwallis to pull back, leaving outposts only at Brunswick and Perth Amboy.
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