Philadelphia Campaign > Battle of Staten Island

Battle of Staten Island


The Battle of Staten Island, fought on August 22, 1777, was a minor engagement during the American Revolutionary War. This battle involved American forces under Brigadier General John Sullivan and British forces, including Loyalists, stationed on Staten Island, New York. The battle was part of the larger efforts by the Americans to disrupt British operations and gather intelligence.


  1. Strategic Context:

    • In the summer of 1777, the British had established strongholds in and around New York City, using Staten Island as a base for Loyalist units and British regulars. Staten Island was strategically important for controlling access to New York Harbor and the surrounding areas.
    • American forces sought to disrupt British operations, gather intelligence, and weaken Loyalist support. General George Washington tasked Brigadier General John Sullivan with leading a raid on Staten Island.
  2. American Forces:

    • Brigadier General John Sullivan commanded a force of approximately 1,000 Continental Army soldiers. Sullivan's mission was to surprise the British garrison on Staten Island, capture prisoners, and gather intelligence.
  3. British and Loyalist Forces:

    • The British garrison on Staten Island included around 2,000 troops, composed of British regulars and Loyalist units under the command of General Sir William Howe. The Loyalist units were primarily provincial regiments, such as the New Jersey Volunteers.

The Battle:

  1. Initial Movements:

    • On the night of August 21-22, 1777, Sullivan's force crossed the Arthur Kill from New Jersey to Staten Island. The Americans landed at two points, intending to launch a coordinated surprise attack on the British and Loyalist positions.
  2. Engagement:

    • Sullivan's forces initially achieved surprise, capturing several outposts and taking prisoners. The Americans advanced towards the main British encampments, aiming to inflict maximum damage before withdrawing.
    • As the Americans moved inland, they encountered stiff resistance from British and Loyalist troops. Skirmishes broke out, with both sides engaging in close-quarters combat.
  3. American Withdrawal:

    • Realizing that his forces were outnumbered and facing increasing resistance, Sullivan decided to withdraw. The Americans retreated towards their landing points, taking prisoners and any gathered intelligence with them.
    • The withdrawal was conducted under fire, with the British and Loyalist forces pursuing the retreating Americans. Despite the pressure, Sullivan managed to re-embark his troops and return to New Jersey.

Aftermath and Impact:

  1. Casualties:

    • The battle resulted in relatively light casualties for both sides. American losses were estimated at around 80 killed, wounded, or captured. British and Loyalist casualties were similar, with approximately 40-50 men killed, wounded, or captured.
  2. Tactical Outcome:

    • The Battle of Staten Island was inconclusive, with neither side achieving a decisive victory. While Sullivan's raid disrupted British operations temporarily, it did not result in a significant strategic advantage for the Americans.
    • The Americans managed to capture some prisoners and gather intelligence, but the overall impact on British and Loyalist positions on Staten Island was limited.
  3. Strategic Consequences:

    • The raid demonstrated the ability of American forces to launch coordinated attacks on British positions, highlighting the continued threat posed by the Continental Army and local militias.
    • The engagement reinforced the importance of Staten Island as a strategic location for the British, prompting them to strengthen their defenses and maintain a vigilant presence.


The Battle of Staten Island remains a minor but notable event in the American Revolutionary War, illustrating the dynamic and fluid nature of the conflict and the persistent efforts by American forces to challenge British authority.

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