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British Map and Reports of the Battle of Long Island
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The inhabitants of Long Island, many of whom had been forced into rebellion, have all submitted, and are ready to take the oaths of allegiance… the rebels abandoned all their posts and works of Long Island, and retired with great precipitation across the East river to the town of New York.

This large-paper issue of a detailed, partially hand-colored map of the British invasion of New York City was first published “according to Act of Parliament, Octr 19th 1776” within weeks of the Battle of Long Island. Below the map in four columns is a detailed account of the Battle of Long Island taken from General Howe’s letter to Lord Germain from his camp at New Town, Long Island (present-day Elmhurst, Queens) on September 3, 1776. This printing is the fifth and final state, showing the American retreat north up Manhattan Island and British occupation of New York on September 15.

WILLIAM FADEN. Map. A Plan of New York Island with Part of Long Island, Staten Island & East New Jersey, with a particular Description of the Engagement on the Woody Heights of Long Island, between Flatbush and Brooklyn, on the 27th of August 1776. London: William Faden, ca. 1776 - 1777. (Possibly from a copy of Faden’s North American Atlas, 1777.) 1 p., 2 sheets joined to 22½ x 29⅞ in., and framed to 29⅛ x 39⅞ in.

Inventory #25050       Price: $17,000

Excerpts:

            “On the 22d of last month, in the morning, the British, with Col. Donop’s corps of Chasseurs and Hessian Grenadiers, disembarked near Utrecht on Long Island without opposition, the whole being landed, with forty pieces of cannon … under the direction of Commodore Hotham; Lieut. Gen. Clinton commanding the first division of the troops.

            “The Americans had only small parties on the coast, who, upon the approach of the boats, retired to the woody heights, commanding a principal pass on the road from Flat-Bush to their works at Brooklyn. Lord Cornwallis was immediately detached to Flat-bush with the reserve, two battalions of light infantry, and Col. Donop’s Corps, with six field pieces, having orders not to risk an attack upon the pass, if he should find it occupied; which proving to be the case, his Lordship took post in the village, and the army extended from the Ferry to the Narrows, thro’ Utrecht and Gravesend, to the village of Flat-Land.

            “Gen. Clinton being arrived within half a mile of the pass about two hours before day break, halted, and settled is disposition for the attack. One of his patrols, falling in with a patrol of the enemy’s officers, took them; and the General learning from their information that the rebels had not occupied the pass, detached a battalion of light infantry to secure it, and advancing with his corps upon the first appearance of day, possessed himself of the heights, with such a disposition as must have ensured success, had he found the enemy in force to oppose him.

            “The main body of the army, consisting of the guards … marched soon after General Clinton, and halted an hour before day in his rear. This column (the country not admitting two columns of march) was followed by the 49th regiment, with four medium twelve pounders, and the baggage closed the rear with a separate guard.

            “As soon as these corps had passed the heights, they halted for the soldiers to take a little refreshment, after which the march was continued, and about half an hour past eight o’clock, having got to Bedford, in the rear of the enemy’s left, the attack was commenced by the light infantry and light dragoons upon large bodies of the rebels, having cannon, who were quitting the woody heights beforementioned to return to their lines upon discovering the march of the army, instead of which they were drove back, and the army still moving on to gain the enemy’s rear, the grenadiers and 33d regiment being in front of the column soon approached within musquet-shot of the enemy’s lines at Brooklyn, from whence these battalions, without regarding the fire of cannon and small arms upon them, pursued numbers of the rebels that were retiring from the heights so close to their principal redoubt, and with such eagerness to attack it by storm, that it required repeated orders to prevail upon them to desist from the attempt. Had they been permitted to go on, they would have carried the redoubt; but as it was apparent the lines must have been carried at a very cheap rate by regular approaches, Gen. Howe would not risk the loss that might have been sustained in the assault, and ordered them back to a hollow way, in the front of the works out of the reach of musquetry.

            “On the left, Major Gen. Grant … advanced along the east coast with ten pieces of cannon, to divert the enemy’s attention from their left. About midnight he fell in with their advanced parties, and at day break with a large corps, having cannon, and advantageously posted, with whom there was skirmishing and a cannonade for some hours, until by the firing at Brooklyn, the rebels, suspecting their retreat would be cut off, made a movement to their right in order to secure it across a swamp and creek, that covered the right of their works; but being met in their way by a part of the 2d grenadiers … they suffered considerable: numbers of them however did get into the morass, where many were suffocated or drowned.

            “A movement was made by the kings ships, toward the town on the 27th, at day-break, with a view of drawing off the attention of the enemy from our real design, which effectually answered the intended purpose.

            “The force of the enemy detached from the lines where Gen. Putnam commanded, was not less, from the accounts received, than 10,000 men, who were under the orders of Major General Sullivan, Brigadier Generals Lord Stirling and Udell. Their loss was computed to be 3300 killed, wounded, prisoners, and drowned; with five field pieces, and one howitzer taken.

            “The enemy are still in the possession of the town and island of New York, and make demonstrations of opposing the royal troops in their works on both sides of King’s Bridge.

            “The inhabitants of Long Island, many of whom had been forced into rebellion, have all submitted, and are ready to take the oaths of allegiance.

            “On the night of the 26th [29th] the rebels abandoned all their posts and works of Long Island, and retired with great precipitation across the East river to the town of New York.

Historical Background

After the British abandoned Boston in March 1776, General George Washington began to transfer troops to New York City, believing the British would attack it next due to its strategic importance. After the Continental Congress transferred General Charles Lee to South Carolina, General William Alexander, Lord Stirling took charge of constructing defenses for New York.

On June 29, 45 British ships anchored in lower New York Bay. Within a week, there were 130. British troops under the command of General William Howe landed on Staten Island on July 2. News of the Declaration of Independence reached New York, and Washington had it read to several brigades on July 9. In late July, the British attempted to negotiate with offers of pardons, but Washington replied, “Those who have committed no fault want no pardon.”

In early August, 6,000 British and 8,000 Hessian troops arrived, bringing the total British forces encamped on Staten Island to 32,000. Fearing an attack either on Long Island or on Manhattan, Washington divided his force in two, placing half on Long Island under the command of Nathanael Greene, who became ill and was replaced by John Sullivan.

On August 22, 15,000 British troops under the command of Generals Henry Clinton and Charles Cornwallis landed at Gravesend Bay on Long Island unopposed. Hundreds of local loyalists greeted them. On August 24, Washington sent Israel Putnam to replace Sullivan in command of approximately 6,000 American troops on Long Island. The next day, 5,000 Hessians joined the British troops on Long Island. Putnam directed the defenses from Brooklyn Heights, while Generals Sullivan and Stirling were stationed on the Guan Heights running southwest to northeast along the western part of Long Island.

Instead of attacking one of the three main passes through the Guan Heights, Generals Clinton and Cornwallis, guided by local loyalists, led 10,000 men through the little used Jamaica Pass on the Americans’ left flank. Meanwhile, a force of approximately 4,000 British and Hessian troops attacked the American front where the Flatbush Road passed through the Guan Heights, while the main British force attacked the Americans from the rear. As the Americans fell back toward their main lines on Brooklyn Heights, the “Maryland 400” engaged in a heroic rear-guard action against overwhelming British forces. Fewer than a dozen of the 260-270 Maryland troops made it back to American lines, and their commander Brigadier General William Alexander, Lord Stirling, surrendered to the Hessians.

General Howe then made the controversial decision to halt the attack, despite the protests of many of his officers. Instead of a direct assault, Howe favored a siege, believing that the Americans were trapped by his army and the British navy’s control of the East River. On August 29, Washington’s officers counseled retreat, and during the night, all 9,000 American troops were evacuated to Manhattan Island without loss.

The British occupied Brooklyn Heights on August 30 but did not press on to the city until September 15, when Howe landed a force at Kip’s Bay and quickly occupied the City of New York. On September 21, a fire destroyed a quarter of New York City, and the next day the British executed Nathan Hale as a spy. Howe defeated Washington again at the Battle of White Plains on October 28 and at Fort Washington on November 16, causing the Americans to retreat across New Jersey into Pennsylvania.

Smaller issues appeared on paper sized about 24 x 19¾ in. Nebenzahl Atlas, pl. 12; Nebenzahl Battle Plans, 107; Tooley American 41e.

William Faden (1749-1836) was an English cartographer and publisher of maps. He succeeded Thomas Jefferys (1719-1771) in the role of royal geographer to King George III. In 1777, Faden printed the North American Atlas: Selected from the Most Authentic Maps, Charts, Plans, &c. Hitherto Published, which included 29 maps, including detailed battle maps.

Condition

Minor mat-toning, stains along lower-edge from edge-staining when bound. Float-mounted and framed.


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