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Chapter Ten. George Washington at New York: The Campaign of 1776

Barnet Schecter

Subject History » Military History

Place Americas » Northern America

Period 1000 - 1999 » 1700-1799

Key-Topics American War of Independence

DOI: 10.1111/b.9781444331035.2012.00012.x


Washington had begun to focus his attention on New York long before he arrived in the city from Boston on April 13, 1776. A year earlier, in the summer of 1775, Washington had gathered intelligence and given approval for Benedict Arnold's trek through the Maine wilderness with a thousand men to capture Quebec, part of a two-pronged American invasion designed to secure Canada as a fourteenth colony. This would seal off access from the north to the Lake Champlain-Hudson River corridor against a British invasion. Washington assumed correctly that the British hoped to capture New York City while sending a second force down from Canada. The two armies would rendezvous at Albany to seize control of the Hudson, severing communications between New England and the colonies west and south of the river, and crushing the American rebellion. According to one member of Congress, New York and Canada were “the openings through which America may, by able fencers, receive the worst wounds” (LDC, 2:159, 3:215). Washington sent Arnold's force in part to divert the British from the army under General Richard Montgomery that Congress had dispatched from Fort Ticonderoga toward St. Johns, Chambly, and Montreal on its way to seize Quebec. When the invasion of Canada collapsed in the spring of 1776, Washington was forced to dilute his force of 23,000 men at the mouth of the Hudson by sending ten regiments ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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