New York & New Jersey Campaign > Battle of Harlem Heights
Battle of Harlem Heights
The Battle of Harlem Heights was fought during the New York and New Jersey campaign of the American Revolutionary War. The action took place in what is now the Morningside Heights and east into the future Harlem neighborhoods of northwestern Manhattan Island in what is now New York City on September 16, 1776. The Continental Army, under Commander-in-chief General George Washington, Major General Nathanael Greene, and Major General Israel Putnam, totaling around 9,000 men, held a series of high ground positions in upper Manhattan. Immediately opposite was the vanguard of the British Army totaling around 5,000 men under the command of Major General Henry Clinton.
An early morning skirmish between a patrol of Knowlton's Rangers and British light infantry piquets developed into a running fight as the British pursued the Americans back through woods towards Washington's position on Harlem Heights. The overconfident British light troops, having advanced too far from their lines without support, had exposed themselves to counter-attack. Washington, seeing this, ordered a flanking maneuver which failed to cut off the British force but in the face of this attack and pressure from troops arriving from the Harlem Heights position, the outnumbered British retreated.
Meeting reinforcements coming from the south and with the added support of a pair of field pieces, the British light infantry turned and made a stand in open fields on Morningside Heights. The Americans, also reinforced, came on in strength and there followed a lengthy exchange of fire. After two hours, with ammunition running short, the British force began to pull back to their lines. Washington cut short the pursuit, unwilling to risk a general engagement with the British main force, and withdrew to his own lines. The battle helped restore the confidence of the Continental Army after suffering several defeats. It was Washington's first battlefield success of the war.
After a month without any major fighting between the armies, Washington was forced to withdraw his army north to the town of White Plains in southeastern New York when the British moved north into Westchester County and threatened to trap Washington further south on Manhattan. After two defeats Washington retreated west across the Hudson River.
New York & New Jersey Campaign Battles
- Ambush of Geary
- Battle of Fort Lee
- Fort Washington
- Battle of Harlem Heights
- Battle of Iron Works Hill
- Battle of Long Island
- Battle of Millstone
- Battle of Pell's Point
- Battle of Princeton
- Battle of the Assunpink Creek
- Battle of Trenton
- Battle of White Plains
- Crossing the Delaware River
- Forage War
- Great Fire of New York
- Landing at Kips Bay
- Staten Island Peace Conference