Monday, August 27, 2012

27 August: Battle of Long Island

     The Battle of Long Island (27 August 1776) was the first major confrontation between American and British forces after the 4 July Declaration of Independence.  It was also the first in a string of engagements that left New York City in British hands for the duration of the American War of Independence.
     American newspaper The Massachusetts Spy published an intercepted letter supposedly by a Scottish officer in a British regiment of Scottish Highlanders.  The letter contained allegations of battlefield atrocities by the British.

The Hessians and our brave Highlanders gave no quarters; and it was a fine sight to see with what alacrity they despatched the Rebels with their bayonets after we had surrounded them so they could not resist.

     The officer explained, "We took care to tell the Hessians that Rebels had resolved to give no quarters to them in particular, which made them fight more desperately, and put all to death that fell into their hands."  David McCullough, in his book 1776, expressed doubts about the authenticity of the letter.  Other sources, however, support its details.  Hessian officer Col. Henrich Anton von Heeringen wrote, "The English did not give much quarter, and constantly urged our people to do the like."

Please consult Edward J. Lowell, The Hessians and the Other German Auxiliaries of Great Britain in the Revolutionary War (New York: Harper & Brothers, 1884), page  68.

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