With American forces’ morale low and falling as they were reeling from the British landing at Kip’s Bay on Manhattan Island, General George Washington tried to hold a line, any line, against the British. Washington sent out rangers under Captain Thomas Knowlton to find and harass the advancing British forces. Knowlton did so and led the British into a fight. Washington sent another force to strike the British flank. For a few hours, the Americans were back on the attack and the British had to retreat a short way.
The engagement was not decisive and it did not much delay the British from taking most of New York in short order, but it was a much needed boost to morale for the American forces.
From the plinth in Riverside Park in New York, 121st Street and Riverside Drive; in grassy triangle south of Grant’s Tomb,
BATTLE OF HARLEM HEIGHTS / SEPTEMBER 16 – 1776 / IN GRATEFUL REMEMBRANCE OF / THE BRAVE SOLDIERS / OF NEW YORK, NEW JERSEY, / CONNECTICUT, MASSACHUSETTS, / RHODE ISLAND, PENNSYLVANIA,/ MARYLAND AND VIRGINIA / WHO UNDER / GENERAL GEORGE WASHINGTON / FOUGHT AND DIED ON THIS SITE / FOR LIBERTY / IN THEIR COUNTRY’S STRUGGLE / AGAINST BRITISH TYRANNY.n.
Map Credit – Public Domain, courtesy of the History Department, United States Military Academy
On 8 December 1776, after a long retreat through New Jersey under pressure from the British Army, American General George Washington crossed the Delaware River from New Jersey to Pennsylvania. The crossing completed one of the most successful retreats in history. Washington’s retreat enabled him to preserve what was left of the Continental Army’s strength and launch his famous surprise attacks later in the month. Fatefully, the British were satisfied with chasing the Americans across the river and decided to cease major operations for the winter.1
This is a great ride when visiting Philadelphia, New York, the northern Jersey shore, or anywhere in western Pennsylvania.
Try PA SR 32 from Kintnersville to Washington’s Crossing. Or, if you are in NJ, try NJ State Route 29 from Frenchtown, NJ to Trenton, NJ to follow the river, get in some nice twisties, and get a good idea of the task that faced Washington.
There are two state parks commemorating Washington’s crossings of the Delaware River; One in NJ and one in PA.
- 1776 by David McCullough, pp. 247-267.
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