In this month of our nation’s birth we have been looking into some of the clear indications of the providence of God in the War for Independence. Last week’s note highlighted the route of the American forces as perhaps one quarter of Washington’s Army were killed, captured or wounded at the Battle of Long Island.
By nightfall of that fateful August 22, 1776, the remnants of the Continental Army crowded into trenches crowded into the entrenchments at Brooklyn Heights, expecting the British to attack and try to finish them. The Americans were trapped in the far western corner of Long Island. The British Army in front, and the mile-wide East River estuary behind them. Escape across the water was unthinkable, as there were four British Men of War, with full compliment of cannons. Then came a soaking downpour, filling the trenches and rendering the troops almost defenseless as their powder was nearly impossible to keep dry.
But the storm also worked to their advantage as the winds howled in from the Northeast, making it impossible for the British ships to move upriver within shelling distance. Two unlikely things had to happen if Washington was going to be able to save his army from destruction or surrender; the strong wind from northeast had to keep up all night, and the British had to be particularly inattentive.
Requisitioning all manner of watercraft across the East river, Washington ordered the silent withdrawal of his nearly 9,000 troops, while leaving a small contingent to maintain campfires at the American positions to conceal the fact of the withdrawal. But the dawn was approaching while many troops had still to cross the river, and now would be easy targets for the British. Yet again a miraculous fog appeared, between the British and American positions, allowing the full and safe withdrawal of all the troops. Later, as the astonished and enraged British finally swarmed over the American redoubts, as one witness recalled, “they could not find so much as a biscuit…wherewith to console themselves.”
The evidence of God’s protection and aid was so evident that a new determination for the right of independence for America emerged. We today can accurately say that God blessed America!
(Accounts I have used in this series have come in part from Michael Medved’s excellent book, The American Miracle.)