October 12

This Day in History

American Revolution

Oct 12, 1776:

British troops head up East River

 

On this day in 1776, British Generals Henry Clinton and William Howe lead a force of 4,000 troops aboard some 90 flat-boats up New York’s East River toward Throg's Neck, a peninsula in Westchester County, in an effort to encircle General George Washington and the Patriot force stationed at Harlem Heights.

After hearing of the British landing at Throg’s Neck, Washington ordered a contingent of troops from the Pennsylvania regiment to destroy the bridge leading from the peninsula to the Westchester mainland. The destruction of the bridge stranded Clinton and his men at Throg’s Neck for six days before they were loaded back onto their vessels and continued up the East River toward Pell Point.

With the British stranded at Throg’s Neck, General Washington decided to withdraw all but 2,000 of his troops north to White Plains, before the British could use Redcoats stationed on Long Island and in Westchester County to surround them on Manhattan Island. After stopping at Pell Point, the British continued north up the East River, engaging in daily skirmishes with Washington’s Continental Army, until the two armies—both 13,000 strong—confronted each other at the inconclusive Battle of White Plains, beginning on October 28, 1776. On October 31, after a bad storm, Washington chose to withdraw to New Jersey before Howe could orchestrate another attack with newly arrived reinforcements.

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