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Firearms were in short supply, with various muskets supplemented by hunting rifles, blunderbusses and anything that could fire a ball. War preparations and Fortifications The newly commissioned Brigadier General William Alexander, Lord Stirling, from New Jersey, was in charge of implementing the defense plan for New York.
Stirling noted that everybody worked “with great spirit and industry” in building the fortifications.
Fears were realized when British troops landed at the villages of New Utrecht and Gravesend on Aug. Two Tory regiments, all local militia with red badges in their hats and loyal to the crown, added 600 men to the British forces, and 800 slaves fled to the British, forming a labor regiment.
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New York City itself had a population of approximately 25,000.
According to a British traveler by the name of Smyth who visited New York during the war, two-thirds of Brooklyn’s population were of Dutch origin, though the culture was British in style.
British infantrymen, Hessian grenadiers, kilted Highlanders and a plethora of soldiery battled American soldiers along Degraw Street, down Bond and over the Union Street Bridge on the Gowanus Canal.
It was a hot, rainy and violent affair, as the rag tag assortment of Americans, few with uniforms and many in hunting shirts, untrained, took on the British regulars. 26, 1776, was the first major action fought by an army of the United States, under the leadership of Gen. In 1776, the Americans had been at war with Britain for about a year, but the battling had been focused in and around Boston.
On July 4, the Continental Congress signed the Declaration of Independence, announcing that the 13 colonies of America regarded themselves as independent states, and no longer a part of the British Empire.