Battle of Brooklyn 1776by John Gallagher, James Dingeman (Foreword by)
It is not often realized that in Brooklyn, New York, for a few tense hours in 1776, the fate of the entire United States hung by a thread. An American defeat, the Battle of Brooklyn has been all but neglected in our collective memory for what it earned with the blood of its participants -- honored status as one of history's great battles. Besides being the largest clash of the Revolution, in terms of both troops and casualties, the action at Brooklyn (sometimes called "The Battle of Long Island") brought the fledgling American republic to the brink of disaster. At the height of the fighting, only the valiant sacrifice of one regiment -- the Marylanders -- staved off a catastrophe. The British army, meanwhile, executed a three-pronged surprise assault with admirable professionalism. The wilds of Brooklyn became a killing ground for the British and Hessian troops who were able to begin the war convinced the colonials would not be able to stand against their onslaught of bullets and steel.
While a drama of rare intensity on its surface, the Battle of Brooklyn also holds a larger significance: the King's men did not invade Brooklyn to face other kings' men; they were sent to fight a population. Rules of engagement were uncertain and passions for and against the rebellion ran high. When the smoke cleared at Brooklyn, in 1776, the modern age of "democratic warfare" had begun.
One can sympathize with the plight of George Washington, who, while charged with the task of defeating the finest army of the Old World, had to mold citizen-soldiers from throughout the thirteen colonies -- "patriots" -- into a viable military force. "If any man turns his back today, I will shoot him through," was one message he conveyed to his troops. At Brooklyn, the young American army did not quite meet its commander's expectations. Still, it remained in the field. And the evacuation conducted after the battle was a masterpiece of efficiency, ensuring that the New World's armed forces would fight another day. The Battle of Brooklyn was a victory for the British Empire. But contained within the triumph was a demonstration of the type of American resolve and courage that would eventually result in independence for the United States.
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I knew the battle was there in Brooklyn, but John Gallagher revealed it to me with a clear well researched approach. I have plans to go over to Brooklyn and check the 'ground'. One can do this this because he has given detailed geographical clues.The book gives an excellent preview to the battle and also a good epilogue.