Although the Americans suffered severe setbacks for months after independence was declared, their tenacity and perseverance eventu- ally paid off . During August 1776, in the Battle of Long Island in New York, Washington’s position be- came untenable, and he executed a masterly retreat in small boats from Brooklyn to the Manhattan shore . British General William Howe twice hesitated and allowed the Americans


to escape . By November, however, Howe had captured Fort Washing- ton on Manhattan Island . New York City would remain under British control until the end of the war .

That December, Washington’s forces were near collapse, as sup- plies and promised aid failed to materialize . Howe again missed his chance to crush the Americans by deciding to wait until spring to re- sume fighting . On Christmas Day, December 25, 1776, Washington crossed the Delaware River, north of Trenton, New Jersey . In the early- morning hours of December 26, his troops surprised the British garrison there, taking more than 900 prison- ers . A week later, on January 3, 1777, Washington attacked the British at Princeton, regaining most of the territory formally occupied by the British . The victories at Trenton and Princeton revived flagging Ameri- can spirits .

In September 1777, however, Howe defeated the American army at Brandywine in Pennsylvania and occupied Philadelphia, forcing the Continental Congress to flee . Wash- ington had to endure the bitterly cold winter of 1777-1778 at Valley Forge, Pennsylvania, lacking ade- quate food, clothing, and supplies . Farmers and merchants exchanged their goods for British gold and silver rather than for dubious paper money issued by the Continental Congress and the states .

Valley Forge was the lowest ebb for Washington’s Continental Army, but elsewhere 1777 proved to be

the turning point in the war . Brit- ish General John Burgoyne, moving south from Canada, attempted to invade New York and New England via Lake Champlain and the Hud- son River . He had too much heavy equipment to negotiate the wooded and marshy terrain . On August 6, at Oriskany, New York, a band of Loyalists and Native Americans un- der Burgoyne’s command ran into a mobile and seasoned American force that managed to halt their advance . A few days later at Bennington, Ver- mont, more of Burgoyne’s forces, seeking much-needed supplies, were pushed back by American troops .

Moving to the west side of the Hudson River, Burgoyne’s army ad- vanced on Albany . The Americans were waiting for him . Led by Bene- dict Arnold — who would later be- tray the Americans at West Point, New York — the colonials twice re- pulsed the British . Having by this time incurred heavy losses, Bur- goyne fell back to Saratoga, New York, where a vastly superior Ameri- can force under General Horatio Gates surrounded the British troops . On October 17, 1777, Burgoyne sur- rendered his entire army — six gen- erals, 300 other officers, and 5,500 enlisted personnel .

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