When the British left Boston, George Washington knew a battle for NYC was imminent. For 5 months he fortified Manhattan and Brooklyn. Then General Howe landed on Staten Island. The smoke from all the ships looked like ‘the chimneys of London’.
15,000 British and 5,000 German mercenaries paddled across The Narrows to Long Island. During the night of August 26, 1776, they slipped up from Denyse’s Ferry through farms and woods (click for map). They found the Continental Army awaiting them along Brooklyn Heights. In the morning shots broke out around Flatbush. But Clinton had discovered a weakly monitored back street. Using this, they surrounded the inexperienced Americans. Germans and British pursued them to Vechte-Cortelyou House (now The Old Stone House).
Here “the Maryland 400” held off the attack as the others fled across Gowanus Creek. Some weighed down with arms and equipment drowned. 256 Marylanders were killed. Washington said, “Good God, what brave fellows I must this day lose.” The battle lost, hidden by mock campfires and real fog, they retreated across the East River.
Washington was the last to leave, as the British came into view.