Attack on the Continental Army on Long Island on August 27, 1776. Drawing of New York Island and Adjacent Areas


Attaque de l'armée des provinciaux dans Long Island du 27. aoust 1776 (Attack on the Continental Army on Long Island on August 27, 1776) shows the American and British positions in the Battle of Long Island (the Battle of Brooklyn Heights) on August 27, 1776. The map is hand-colored and is watermarked. Relief is shown by hachures. This was the first major battle in the Revolutionary War after the issuing of the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776, as well as the largest engagement of the entire war. The battle pitted the Continental Army led by General George Washington against British forces commanded by General William Howe. The map highlights American defensive positions on Brooklyn Heights and Guan (Gowanus) Heights. It also shows British positions and troop movements from Staten Island and Gravesend in Brooklyn toward Brooklyn Heights. Howe gradually reinforced his troops from a base near the Narrows on Staten Island, and later moved to a primary British line near Gravesend (point A on the map). The British Army under Generals Clinton, von Heister (leading Hessian troops), and Grant subsequently moved toward Guan Heights (points B, C, D, E, and F). In the main action of the battle, which included a flank attack by Howe against the American positions, the Americans were defeated. This loss led Washington’s forces to retreat to their primary defensive position on Brooklyn Heights, followed by a heroic escape back to Manhattan that was a high point of Washington’s military career. After an American victory in the subsequent Battle of Harlem Heights, the British prevailed in the Battles of White Plains and Fort Washington, both of which took place before the end of the year. These losses ultimately caused the Americans to evacuate New York City, leaving this important strategic location in the hands of the British Army until the war ended in 1783. The map shows unusual detail for northern Manhattan, highlighting topography, buildings, forts, and the defensive positions of the American troops. Damage to the map shows as a hole in the middle of Manhattan Island. Aside from battlefield positions, the map shows other parts of New York, including Harlem in northern Manhattan and small villages, such as Flushing and New Town, in what later became the borough of Queens. It also highlights parts of the coast of New Jersey along New York Harbor, from Bergen Point to Wehoak (Weehawken), as well as Elizabeth City and Newark, and Brown’s Island and Kennedy’s Island, later known as Ellis Island and Liberty Island, respectively. The map is from the Rochambeau Collection at the Library of Congress, which consists of 40 manuscript maps, 26 printed maps, and a manuscript atlas that belonged to Jean-Baptiste-Donatien de Vimeur, comte de Rochambeau (1725‒1807), commander in chief of the French expeditionary army (1780‒82) during the American Revolution. Some of the maps were used by Rochambeau during the war. Dating from 1717 to 1795, the maps cover much of eastern North America, from Newfoundland and Labrador in the north to Haiti in the south. The collection includes maps of cities, maps showing Revolutionary War battles and military campaigns, and early state maps from the 1790s.

Last updated: November 4, 2015