The Saratoga campaign in 1777 was an attempt by the British high command for North America to gain military control of the strategically important Hudson River valley during the American Revolutionary War. It ended in the surrender of the British army, which historian Edmund Morgan argues, "was a great turning point of the war, because it won for Americans the foreign assistance, the last element needed for victory."The primary thrust of the campaign was planned and initiated by General John Burgoyne. Commanding a main force of some 8,000 men, he moved south in June from Quebec, boated up Lake Champlain to middle New York marched over the divide and down the Hudson Valley to Saratoga, he skirmished there with the Patriot defenders with mixed results. After losses in the Battles of Saratoga in September and October, his deteriorating position and increasing size of the American army forced him to surrender his forces to the American general Horatio Gates on October 17. In this critical British loss in the field of battle, all of the related elaborate strategies, drawn up in far away London proved to have failed.
Colonel Barry St. Leger had been assigned to move east through the Mohawk River valley on Albany, New York, but was forced to retreat during the Siege of Fort Stanwix after losing his Indian allies; the major expedition from the south never materialized due to miscommunication with London when General William Howe sent his army to take Philadelphia rather than sending it up the Hudson River to coordinate with Burgoyne. A last-minute effort to reinforce Burgoyne from New York City was made in early October, but it was too little, too late; the American victory was an enormous morale boost to the fledgling nation. More it convinced France to enter the war in alliance with the United States providing money and munitions, as well as fighting a naval war worldwide against Britain. Toward the end of 1776 it was apparent to many in England that pacification of New England was difficult due to the high concentration of Patriots. In December 1776, General John Burgoyne met with Lord Germain, the British Secretary of State for the Colonies and the government official responsible for managing the war, to set strategy for 1777.
There were two main armies in North America to work with: General Guy Carleton's army in Quebec and General William Howe's army, which had driven George Washington's army from New York City in the New York campaign. On November 30, 1776, Howe—the British commander-in-chief in North America—wrote to Germain, outlining an ambitious plan for the 1777 campaign. Howe said that if Germain sent him substantial reinforcements, he could launch multiple offensives, including sending 10,000 men up the Hudson River to take Albany, New York. In the autumn, Howe could move south and capture the U. S. capital of Philadelphia. Howe soon changed his mind after writing this letter: the reinforcements might not arrive, the retreat of the Continental Army over the winter of 1776–77 made Philadelphia an vulnerable target. Therefore, Howe decided that he would make the capture of Philadelphia the primary object of the 1777 campaign. Howe sent Germain this revised plan, which Germain received on February 23, 1777. Burgoyne, seeking to command a major force, proposed to isolate New England by an invasion from Quebec into New York.
This had been attempted by General Carleton in 1776, although he had stopped short of a full-scale invasion due to the lateness of the season. Carleton was criticized in London for not taking advantage of the American retreat from Quebec, he was intensely disliked by Germain. This, combined with rival Henry Clinton's failed attempt to capture Charleston, South Carolina, placed Burgoyne in a good position to get command of the 1777 northern campaign. Burgoyne presented a written plan to Lord Germain on February 28, 1777. Burgoyne's invasion plan from Quebec had two components: he would lead the main force of about 8,000 men south from Montreal along Lake Champlain and the Hudson River Valley while a second column of about 2,000 men, would move from Lake Ontario east down the Mohawk River valley in a strategic diversion. Both expeditions would converge upon Albany, where they would link up with troops from Howe's army marching up the Hudson. Control of the Lake Champlain–Lake George–Hudson River route from Canada to New York City would cut off New England from the rest of the American colonies.
The last part of Burgoyne's proposal, the advance by Howe up the Hudson from New York City, proved to be the most controversial part of the campaign. Germain approved Burgoyne's plan after having received Howe's letter detailing his proposed offensive against Philadelphia. Whether Germain told Burgoyne, still in London at that time, about Howe's revised plans is unclear: while some sources claim he did, others state that Burgoyne was not notified of the changes until the campaign was well underway. Historian Robert Ketchum believes that Burgoyne would have been aware of the problems that lay ahead had he been notified of the Philadelphia plan. Whether Germain and Burgoyne had the same expectations about the degree to which Howe was supposed to support the invasion from Quebec is unclear. What is clear is that Germain either left his generals with too much latitude, or without a defined overall strategy. In March 1777 Germain had approved of Howe's Philadelphia expedition and did not include any express orders for Howe to go to Albany.
Yet Germain sent
New York and New Jersey campaign
The New York and New Jersey campaign was a series of battles in 1776 and the winter months of 1777 for control of New York City and the state of New Jersey during the American Revolutionary War between British forces under General Sir William Howe and the Continental Army under General George Washington. Howe was successful in driving Washington out of New York City, but overextended his reach into New Jersey, ended the active campaign season in January 1777 with only a few outposts near the city; the British held New York harbor for the rest of the war, using it as a base for expeditions against other targets. First landing unopposed on Staten Island on July 3, 1776, Howe assembled an army composed of elements, withdrawn from Boston in March following their failure to hold that city, combined with additional British troops, as well as Hessian troops hired from several German principalities. Washington had New England soldiers as well as regiments from states as far south as Virginia. Landing on Long Island in August, Howe defeated Washington in the largest battle of the war, but the Continental Army was able to make an orderly retreat to Manhattan under cover of darkness and fog.
Washington suffered a series of further defeats in Manhattan, with the exception of the skirmish at Harlem Heights, withdrew to White Plains, New York. At that point Howe returned to Manhattan to capture forces Washington had left in the north of the island. Washington and much of his army crossed the Hudson River into New Jersey, retreated all the way across the Delaware River into Pennsylvania, shrinking due to ending enlistment periods and poor morale. Howe ordered his troops into winter quarters in December, establishing a chain of outposts from New York to Burlington, New Jersey. Washington, in a tremendous boost to American morale, launched a successful strike against the Trenton garrison after crossing the icy Delaware River, prompting Howe to withdraw his chain of outposts back to New Brunswick and the coast near New York, while Washington established his winter camp at Morristown. During the remaining winter months, both sides skirmished as the British sought forage and provisions.
Britain maintained control of New York City and some of the surrounding territory until the war ended in 1783, using it as a base for operations elsewhere in North America. In 1777, General Howe launched a campaign to capture Philadelphia, leaving General Sir Henry Clinton in command of the New York area, while General John Burgoyne led an attempt to gain control of the Hudson River valley, moving south from Quebec and failed at Saratoga. Northern New Jersey was the scene of skirmishing between the opposing forces for the rest of the war; when the American Revolutionary War broke out in April 1775, British troops were under siege in Boston. They defeated Patriot forces in the Battle of Bunker Hill, suffering high casualties; when news of this expensive British victory reached London, General William Howe and Lord George Germain, the British official responsible, determined that a "decisive action" should be taken against New York City using forces recruited from throughout the British Empire as well as troops hired from small German states.
General George Washington named by the Second Continental Congress as the commander-in-chief of the Continental Army, echoed the sentiments of others that New York was "a post of infinite importance", began the task of organizing military companies in the New York area when he stopped there on his way to take command of the siege of Boston. In January 1776, Washington ordered Charles Lee to raise troops and take command of New York's defenses. Lee had made some progress on the city's defenses when word arrived in late March 1776 that the British army had left Boston after Washington threatened them from heights south of the city. Concerned that General Howe was sailing directly to New York, Washington hurried regiments from Boston, including General Israel Putnam, who commanded the troops until Washington himself arrived in mid-April. At the end of April, Washington dispatched General John Sullivan with six regiments to the north to bolster the faltering Quebec campaign. General Howe, rather than moving against New York, withdrew his army to Halifax, Nova Scotia, regrouped while transports full of British troops, shipped from bases around Europe and intended for New York, began gathering at Halifax.
In June, he set sail for New York with the 9,000 men assembled there, before all of the transports arrived. German troops from Hesse-Kassel, as well as British troops from Henry Clinton's unsuccessful expedition to the Carolinas, were to meet with Howe's fleet when it reached New York. General Howe's brother, Admiral Lord Howe, arrived at Halifax with further transports after the general sailed, followed; when General Howe arrived in the outer harbor of New York, the ships began sailing up the undefended Narrows between Staten Island and Long Island on July 2, started landing troops on the undefended shores of Staten Island that day. Washington learned from prisoners taken that Howe had landed 10,000 men, but was awaiting the arrival of another 15,000. General Washington, with a smaller army of about 19,000 effective troops, lacked significant intelligence on the British force and plans, was uncertain where in the New York area the Howes intended to strike, he split the Continental Army between fortified positions on Long Island and mainland locations, established a "Flying Camp" in northern New Jersey.
This was intended as a reserve force that could support operations anywhere along the New Jersey side of the Hudson. The Howe brothers had been granted authority as peace commissioners by Parliament, with limite
Battle of Bunker Hill
The Battle of Bunker Hill was fought on June 17, 1775, during the Siege of Boston in the early stages of the American Revolutionary War. The battle is named after Bunker Hill in Charlestown, peripherally involved in the battle, it was the original objective of both the colonial and British troops, though the majority of combat took place on the adjacent hill which became known as Breed's Hill. On June 13, 1775, the leaders of the colonial forces besieging Boston learned that the British were planning to send troops out from the city to fortify the unoccupied hills surrounding the city, which would give them control of Boston Harbor. In response, 1,200 colonial troops under the command of William Prescott stealthily occupied Bunker Hill and Breed's Hill. During the night, the colonists constructed a strong redoubt on Breed's Hill, as well as smaller fortified lines across the Charlestown Peninsula. By daybreak of June 17, the British became aware of the presence of colonial forces on the Peninsula and mounted an attack against them that day.
Two assaults on the colonial positions were repulsed with significant British casualties. The colonists retreated to Cambridge over Bunker Hill, leaving the British in control of the Peninsula; the battle was a tactical, though somewhat Pyrrhic victory for the British, as it proved to be a sobering experience for them, involving many more casualties than the Americans had incurred, including a large number of officers. The battle had demonstrated that inexperienced militia were able to stand up to regular army troops in battle. Subsequently, the battle discouraged the British from any further frontal attacks against well defended front lines. American casualties were comparatively much fewer, although their losses included General Joseph Warren and Major Andrew McClary, the final casualty of the battle; the battle led the British to adopt a more cautious planning and maneuver execution in future engagements, evident in the subsequent New York and New Jersey campaign, arguably helped rather than hindered the American forces.
Their new approach to battle was giving the Americans greater opportunity to retreat if defeat was imminent. The costly engagement convinced the British of the need to hire substantial numbers of foreign mercenaries to bolster their strength in the face of the new and formidable Continental Army. Boston, situated on a peninsula, was protected from close approach by the expanses of water surrounding it, which were dominated by British warships. In the aftermath of the battles of Lexington and Concord on April 19, 1775, the colonial militia, a force of about 15,000 men, had surrounded the town, besieged it. Under the command of Artemas Ward, they controlled the only land access to Boston itself, lacking a navy, were unable to contest British domination of the waters of the harbor; the British troops, a force of about 6,000 under the command of General Thomas Gage, occupied the city, were able to be resupplied and reinforced by sea. In theory, they were thus able to remain in Boston indefinitely.
However, the land across the water from Boston contained a number of hills, which could be used to advantage. If the militia could obtain enough artillery pieces, these could be placed on the hills and used to bombard the city until the occupying army evacuated it or surrendered, it was with this in mind that the Knox Expedition, led by Henry Knox transported cannon from Fort Ticonderoga to the Boston area. The Charlestown Peninsula, lying to the north of Boston, started from a short, narrow isthmus at its northwest and extended about 1 mile southeastward into Boston Harbor. Bunker Hill, with an elevation of 110 feet, lay at the northern end of the peninsula. Breed's Hill, at a height of 62 feet, was more nearer to Boston; the town of Charlestown occupied flats at the southern end of the peninsula. At its closest approach, less than 1,000 feet separated the Charlestown Peninsula from the Boston Peninsula, where Copp's Hill was at about the same height as Breed's Hill. While the British retreat from Concord had ended in Charlestown, General Gage, rather than fortifying the hills on the peninsula, had withdrawn those troops to Boston the day after that battle, turning the entire Charlestown Peninsula into a no man's land.
Throughout May, in response to orders from Gage requesting support, the British received reinforcements, until they reached a strength of about 6,000 men. On May 25, three generals arrived on HMS Cerberus: William Howe, John Burgoyne, Henry Clinton. Gage began planning with them to break out of the city, finalizing a plan on June 12; this plan began with the taking of the Dorchester Neck, fortifying the Dorchester Heights, marching on the colonial forces stationed in Roxbury. Once the southern flank had been secured, the Charlestown heights would be taken, the forces in Cambridge driven away; the attack was set for June 18. On June 13, the Massachusetts Provincial Congress was notified, by express messenger from the Committee of Safety in Exeter, New Hampshire, that a New Hampshire gentleman "of undoubted veracity" had, while visiting Boston, overheard the British commanders making plans to capture Dorchester and Charlestown. On June 15, the Massachusetts Committee of Safety decided that additional defenses needed to be erected.
General Ward directed General Israel Putnam to set up defenses on the Charlestown Peninsula on Bunker Hill. On the night of June 16, colonial Colonel William Prescott led about 1,200 men onto the peninsula in order to set up positions from which artillery fire could be directed
Noble train of artillery
The noble train of artillery known as the Knox Expedition, was an expedition led by Continental Army Colonel Henry Knox to transport heavy weaponry, captured at Fort Ticonderoga to the Continental Army camps outside Boston, Massachusetts during the winter of 1775–1776. Knox went to Ticonderoga in November 1775 and moved 60 tons of cannons and other armaments over the course of three winter months by boat, horse, ox-drawn sledges, manpower along poor-quality roads, across two semi-frozen rivers, through the forests and swamps of the inhabited Berkshires to the Boston area, covering 300 miles. Historian Victor Brooks has called Knox's exploit "one of the most stupendous feats of logistics" of the entire American Revolutionary War; the route which he followed is now known as the Henry Knox Trail, the states of New York and Massachusetts have erected markers along the way. The American Revolutionary War erupted with the Battles of Lexington and Concord in April 1775. Benedict Arnold was a militia leader from Connecticut who had arrived with his unit in support of the Siege of Boston.
One reason that he gave to justify the move was the presence of heavy weaponry at Ticonderoga. On May 3, the committee gave Arnold a Massachusetts colonel's commission and authorized the operation; the idea to capture Ticonderoga had been raised to Ethan Allen and the Green Mountain Boys in the disputed New Hampshire Grants territory in Vermont. Allen and Arnold joined forces, a force of 83 men captured the fort without a fight on May 10; the next day, a detachment captured the nearby Fort Crown Point, again without combat. Arnold began to inventory the two forts for usable military equipment, but he was hampered by a lack of resources and conflict over command of the forts, first with Allen and with a Connecticut militia company sent to hold the fort in June, he abandoned the idea of transporting the armaments to Boston and resigned his commission. In July 1775, George Washington assumed command of the forces outside Boston, one of the significant problems which he identified in the nascent Continental Army was a lack of heavy weaponry, which made offensive operations impossible.
It is not known who proposed the operation to retrieve the Ticonderoga cannons, but historians tend to credit either Henry Knox or Benedict Arnold with giving Washington the idea. Knox was a 25 year-old bookseller with an interest in military matters who served in the Massachusetts militia, he had become good friends with Washington on his arrival at Boston; when Washington gave him the assignment, he wrote that "no trouble or expense must be spared to obtain them." On November 16, Washington issued orders to Knox to retrieve the cannons and authorized £1000 for the purpose, he wrote to General Philip Schuyler asking him to assist Knox in the endeavor. Washington's call for the weapons was echoed by the Second Continental Congress, they issued Knox a colonel's commission in November—although it did not reach him until he returned from the expedition. Knox departed Washington's camp on November 17 and traveled to New York City for supplies, reaching Ticonderoga on December 5, he shared a cabin with a young British prisoner named John André at Fort George at the southern end of Lake George.
André had been taken prisoner during the Siege of Fort St. Jean and was on his way south to a prison camp; the two were of a similar age and temperament, found much common ground to talk about. The next time they met, Knox presided over the court martial which convicted and sentenced André to death for his role in Benedict Arnold's treason. Knox's letters and diaries provide the primary sources for much of the daily activity in this journey, his description is detailed for some of the events and dates, but there are significant gaps, significant portions of the journey are poorly documented much of the Massachusetts section. Some of these gaps occur because Knox did not write about them, others because pages are missing from the diary. Other sources confirm some of Knox's details or report additional details, but parts of the route are not known with certainty, modern descriptions of those parts are based on what is known about Massachusetts roads at the time, including the placement of markers for the Henry Knox Trail.
Regardless, the route was less in the corridor of today's Massachusetts Turnpike. Upon arrival at Ticonderoga, Knox set about identifying the equipment to take and organizing its transport, he selected 59 pieces of equipment, including cannons ranging in size from 4- to 24-pounders and howitzers. He estimated the total weight to be transported at 119,000 pounds; the largest pieces were the 24-pounders which were 11 feet long and estimated to weigh over 5,000 pounds. The equipment was first carried overland from Ticonderoga to the northern end of Lake George, where most of the train was loaded onto a scow-like ship called a gundalow. On December 6, the gundalow set sail for the southern end of the lake, with Knox sailing ahead in a small boat. Ice was beginning to cover the lake, but the gundalow reached Sabbath Day Point, after grounding once on a submerged rock, they sailed on again the next day, with Knox going ahead. He reached Fort George in good time. A boat went to check on its progress and reported that the gundalow had foundered and sunk not far from Sabbath Day Point.
This appeared to be a serious setback at fi
Naval battles of the American Revolutionary War
The War of the American Independence saw a series of military manoeuvres and battles involving naval forces of the British Royal Navy and the Continental Navy from 1775, of the French Navy from 1778 onwards. While the British enjoyed more numerical victories these battles culminated in the surrender of the British Army force of Lieutenant-General Earl Charles Cornwallis, an event that led directly to the beginning of serious peace negotiations and the eventual end of the war. From the start of the hostilities, the British North American station under Vice-Admiral Samuel Graves blockaded the major colonial ports and carried raids against patriot communities. Colonial forces could do little to stop these developments due to British naval supremacy. In 1777, colonial privateers made raids into British waters capturing merchant ships, which they took into French and Spanish ports, although both were neutral. Seeking to challenge Britain, France signed two treaties with America in February 1778, but stopped short of declaring war on Britain.
The risk of a French invasion forced the British to concentrate its forces in the English Channel, leaving its forces in North America vulnerable to attacks. France entered the war on 17 June 1778, the French ships sent to the Western Hemisphere spent most of the year in the West Indies, only sailed to the Thirteen Colonies from July until November. In the first Franco-American campaign, a French fleet commanded by Vice-Admiral Comte Charles Henri Hector d'Estaing attempted landings in New York and Newport, but due to a combination of poor co-ordination and bad weather, d'Estaing and Vice-Admiral Lord Richard Howe naval forces did not engage during 1778. After the French fleet departed, the British turned their attention to the south. In 1779, the French fleet returned to assist American forces attempting to recapture Savannah from British forces; however failing leading the British victors to remain in control till late 1782. In 1780, another fleet and 6,000 troops commanded by Lieutenant-General Comte Jean-Baptiste de Rochambeau, landed at Newport, shortly afterwards was blockaded by the British.
In early 1781, General George Washington and the comte de Rochambeau planned an attack against the British in the Chesapeake Bay area coordinated with the arrival of a large fleet commanded by Vice-Admiral Comte François Joseph Paul de Grasse from the West Indies. British Vice-Admiral Sir George Brydges Rodney, tracking de Grasse around the West Indies, was alerted to the latter's departure, but was uncertain of the French admiral's destination. Believing that de Grasse would return a portion of his fleet to Europe, Rodney detached Rear-Admiral Sir Samuel Hood and 15 ships of the line with orders to find de Grasse's destination in North America. Rodney, ill, sailed for Europe with the rest of his fleet in order to recover, refit his fleet, to avoid the Atlantic hurricane season. British naval forces in North America and the West Indies were weaker than the combined fleets of France and Spain, after much indecision by British naval commanders, the French fleet gained control over Chesapeake Bay, landing forces near Yorktown.
The Royal Navy attempted to dispute this control in the key Battle of the Chesapeake on 5 September but Rear-Admiral Thomas Graves was defeated. Protected from the sea by French ships, Franco-American forces surrounded and forced the surrender of British forces commanded by General Cornwallis, concluding major operations in North America; when the news reached London, the government of Lord Frederick North fell, the following Rockingham ministry entered into peace negotiations. These culminated in the Treaty of Paris in 1783, in which King George III recognised the independence of the United States of America; the Battle of Lexington and Concord on 19 April 1775 drew thousands of militia forces from throughout New England to the towns surrounding Boston. These men remained in the area and their numbers grew, placing the British forces in Boston under siege when they blocked all land access to the peninsula; the British were still able to sail in supplies from Nova Scotia and other places because the harbour remained under British naval control.
Colonial forces could do nothing to stop these shipments due to the naval supremacy of the British fleet and the complete absence of any sort of rebel armed vessels in the spring of 1775. While the British were able to resupply the city by sea, the inhabitants and the British forces were on short rations, prices rose Vice-Admiral Samuel Graves commanded the Royal Navy around occupied Bospotato catton under overall leadership of Governor General Thomas Gage. Graves had hired storage on Noddle's Island for a variety of important naval supplies and livestock, which he felt were important to preserve, owing to the "almost impossibility of replacing them at this Juncture". During the siege, with the supplies in the city running shorter by the day, British troops were sent to the Boston Harbour to raid farms for supplies. Graves acting on intelligence that the Colonials might make attempts on the islands, posted guard boats near Noddle's Island; these were longboats. Sources disagree as to whether or not any regulars or marines were stationed on Noddle's Island to protect the naval supplies.
In response, the Colonials began clearing Noddle's Island and Hog Island of anything useful to the British. Graves on his flagship HMS Preston, taking notice of this, signalled for the guard marines to land on Noddle's island and ordered the armed schooner Diana, under the command of his nephew Lieutenant Thomas Graves, to sail up Chelsea Creek to cut off the colonists' route; this contested action resulted in the loss of two British soldiers and t
Battle of Chelsea Creek
The Battle of Chelsea Creek was the second military engagement of the Boston campaign of the American Revolutionary War. It is known as the Battle of Noddle's Island, Battle of Hog Island and the Battle of the Chelsea Estuary; this battle was fought on May 27 and 28, 1775, on Chelsea Creek and on salt marshes and islands of Boston Harbor, northeast of the Boston peninsula. Most of these areas have since been united with the mainland by land reclamation and are now part of East Boston, Chelsea and Revere; the American colonists met their goal of strengthening the siege of Boston by removing livestock and hay on those islands from the reach of the British regulars. The British armed schooner Diana was destroyed and its weaponry was appropriated by the Colonial side; this was the first naval capture of the war, it was a significant boost to the morale of the Colonial forces. The Battle of Lexington and Concord on April 19, 1775 drew thousands of militia forces from throughout New England to the towns surrounding Boston.
These men remained in the area and their numbers grew, placing the British forces in Boston under siege when they blocked all land access to the peninsula. The British were still able to sail in supplies from Nova Scotia and other places because the harbor side of the city remained under British naval control. Colonial forces could do little to stop these shipments due to the naval supremacy of the British fleet and the complete absence of a Continental Navy in the spring of 1775. However, there was one remaining local area that continued to supply the British forces in Boston after the war began. Farmers to the east of the city in coastal areas and on the Boston Harbor islands found themselves vulnerable once the siege began because they were exposed to British influence from the sea. If they continued to sell livestock to the regulars they would be viewed as Loyalists in the eyes of the Patriots, but if they refused to sell the British would consider them rebels and raiding parties would take what they wanted.
On May 14, the Massachusetts Committee of Safety under Joseph Warren issued the following order: Resolved, as their opinion, that all the live stock be taken from Noddle's Island, Hog Island, Snake Island, from that part of Chelsea near the sea coast, be driven back. A few days before the battle and General Artemas Ward, commander of the besieging forces, inspected Noddle's Island and Hog Island, which lay to the northeast of Boston, east of Charlestown, they found no British troops there but plenty of livestock. The animals in other coastal areas had been moved inland by their owners. On May 21, the British had sailed troops to Grape Island in the outer harbor near Weymouth to get hay and livestock, had been driven off by militia mustered from the nearby towns, which removed the livestock and burned the hay on the island; the British Navy around occupied. The Royal Marines were under the command of Major John Pitcairn; the British forces as a whole were led by Governor General Thomas Gage. Graves had, in addition to hay and livestock, hired storage on Noddle's Island for a variety of important naval supplies, which he felt were important to preserve, owing to the "almost impossibility of replacing them at this Juncture."
Vice-Admiral Graves acting on intelligence that the Colonials might make attempts on the islands, posted guard boats near Noddle's Island. These were longboats. Sources disagree as to whether or not any regulars or marines were stationed on Noddle's Island to protect the naval supplies; the "regiment now at Medford" mentioned by the Committee of Safety was Colonel John Stark's 1st New Hampshire Regiment of about 300 men stationed near Winter Hill with its headquarters in Medford. Taking his instructions from General Ward and his regiment crossed the bridge over the Mystic River just after midnight on May 27, their route took them far to the north of Chelsea Creek through Malden and parts of what are now the cities of Everett and Revere. Additional local men most joined them during their march. Hog Island was accessible at low tide from the east by fording Belle Isle Creek near the current location of Belle Isle Marsh Reservation; this crossing was effected without Graves' guard boats taking notice.
Stark began to move his force to Hog Island at about 10 am and directed most of his men to round up livestock there while he forded Crooked Creek to Noddle's Island with a group of thirty men. Stark's small contingent on Noddle's Island scattered into small groups, killed the animals they could find, set fire to haystacks and barns; the British first took notice. Vice-Admiral Graves on his flagship, HMS Preston saw smoke from the burning hay at about 2 pm, signaled for the guard marines to land on Noddle's island, which they did, engaging Stark's scattered forces. Graves ordered the schooner Diana, under the command of his nephew Lieutenant Thomas Graves, to sail up Chelsea Creek to support the operation and cut off the colonists' escape. A combined force of 400 marines was landed, formed ranks and began to systematically drive Stark's men back to the east; the colonists fled without fighting. There they fired on their pursuers from strong defensive positions. A pitched battle followed, in which the colonists "Squated down in a Ditch on
Battle of Gwynn's Island
The Battle of Gwynn's Island saw Andrew Lewis lead patriot soldiers from Virginia against John Murray, 4th Earl of Dunmore's small naval squadron and British loyalist troops. In this American Revolutionary War action, accurate cannonfire from the nearby Virginia mainland persuaded Dunmore to abandon his base at Gwynn's Island. While camping on the island, the loyalists suffered heavy mortality from smallpox and an unknown fever among the escaped slaves that Dunmore recruited to fight against the American rebels. Gwynn's Island is located on the western shore of Chesapeake Bay in Virginia. In late 1775, Dunmore and his loyalist forces were defeated and withdrew aboard their ships off Norfolk. Blocked by American troops from securing food near Norfolk, Dunmore sailed north to base his force at Gwynn's Island for six weeks; the ill-fed loyalists were cooped up aboard Dunmore's ships too long and smallpox broke out. After being driven away from Gwynn's Island, Dunmore's ships lingered in Chesapeake Bay before his vessels departed for New York and other locations.
Dunmore's absence allowed Virginia's troops to join General George Washington's main army. Before the news of the Battles of Lexington and Concord reached Virginia, Governor Dunmore clashed with the local patriots in the Gunpowder Incident at Williamsburg on 20–21 April 1775. On May 2, Dunmore uttered a threat to free the slaves and burn Williamsburg. Relations between the governor and the colonists continued to deteriorate that summer. On 24–25 October, Dunmore sent ships to destroy Hampton but this effort miscarried, he repeated his threat to free slaves belonging to patriots and began recruiting loyalist forces. On December 9, William Woodford's patriot militia defeated Dunmore's forces in the Battle of Great Bridge and occupied Norfolk five days later. Robert Howe arrived with a North Carolina regiment one day and assumed command. Dunmore withdrew loyalist refugees aboard his ships in Norfolk harbor; the patriots refused the governor's demands to supply his followers with food. They prevented the loyalists from foraging ashore and sniped at the ships.
On January 1, 1776, Dunmore ordered his warships to bombard Norfolk, wrecking the waterfront district. The patriots countered by burning down homes belonging to loyalists; this led to the Burning of Norfolk when a great fire that lasted two days reduced most of the town to ashes. The patriots razed the remaining buildings after the fire burned itself out. Dunmore landed his followers and built barracks for them, but the patriots stopped them from gathering food. In late May 1776, Dunmore left Norfolk with his fleet of nearly 100 vessels and sailed 30 miles north to Gwynn's Island. Dunmore's loyalists were crowded in unhealthy conditions aboard ships and the governor hoped the 4 square mile island would be a secure place for them to recover. On May 26, Dunmore's fleet anchored in Hills Bay at the mouth of the Piankatank River on the west side of Gwynn's Island. Royal marines from the warships HMS Roebuck, HMS Fowey, HMS Otter and Dunmore's forces landed and secured the island; the portion of the island only 200 yards from the mainland was fortified and Fort Hamond was built, named after the Roebuck's captain, Andrew Snape Hamond.
Dunmore set up his main camp behind the fortifications. His forces included about 100 British regulars of the 14th Foot, the Queen's Own Loyal Virginians, the Ethiopian Regiment; as Hamond reported at the time, only about 200 soldiers were able-bodied due to the disease raging aboard the ships. One historian estimated that Dunmore's loyalist forces numbered 500 soldiers and black. A military outpost on Burton Point reported the landing and Captain Thomas Posey arrived with his company of the 7th Virginia Regiment. Soon the balance of the 7th Virginia under Colonel William Daingerfield and local militia assembled on the mainland opposite Gwynn's Island. Subjected to harassing cannon fire, many militiamen deserted, but the Continental Army soldiers became accustomed to being under fire. At Williamsburg, General Lewis realized that only artillery could dislodge Dunmore from Gwynn's Island, so he began collecting cannons. While waiting for the artillery, the Virginians defended the shoreline against a possible raid by the loyalists.
They noticed the corpses of loyalists floating in the bay. Meanwhile, Dunmore discovered that the island's water supply was not adequate for the several hundred people in camp. Hamond noted that Dunmore had inoculated his African-American troops against smallpox and the expedient was successful. However, a second deadly fever was killing the blacks so that there were only 150 survivors. Hamond reported that the Royal Marines were forced to guard the camp because the British regulars were still weak from sickness and many of the Queen's Own Loyal Virginians were ill with smallpox. In a letter to Lord George Germain, Dunmore admitted that, because of the fever, each of his ships were throwing one to three dead bodies overboard every night; the governor complained that, except for the fever, he might have had 2,000 black recruits, which would have been enough to stamp out the rebellion. On July 8, 1776, Lewis arrived in the American patriot camp with a brigade of Virginia troops. A battery of two 18-pounder cannons was established opposite Fort Hamond and within range of Dunmore's flagship, the Dunmore.
Several hundred yards south, was a second battery of four 9-pound cannons, tasked with targeting the British loyalist camp and three small vessels guarding Milford Haven on the south side of Gwynn's Island. At 8:00 am on July 9, the 18-pounders opened fire on the Dunmore at a range of 500 yards; the first shot smashed through the ship's s