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George Washington and the Battle of Long Island

Detailed early Revolutionary War battle plan of the area around New York City, depicting the battles of Long Island and the site of the Battle of White Plains, in 1776.

The map shows battle details of General George Washington's engagement at the Battle of Long Island.

The British placed General William Howe in charge of the greatest army England ever sent overseas, forces superior to any the Americans could put in the field. In June of 1776, a large British war fleet led by Howe sailed into New York harbor. A month later an army of 10,000 men landed on Staten Island, unopposed by the Americans. All during July and August British reinforcements continued their build-up until Howe was in command of a combined force of 32,000 men, of whom 9000 were German mercenaries. During the final days of August in the Battle of Long Island, Howe inflicted a crushing defeat on Washington's army.

To escape the onslaught, Washington withdrew his colonial forces from Brooklyn Heights to Manhattan. Less than two weeks later he decided to evacuate New York City, rather than be trapped in lower Manhattan. However, before he withdrew from the city Washington prepared fortifications in upper Manhattan and was able to repulse the British army in the Battle of Harlem Heights. In October in the face of the advancing British forces, Washington evacuated his main force from Manhattan Island, leaving behind a garrison at Fort Washington, and marched to White Plains. In the Battle of White Plains the British inflicted heavy casualties on Washington's army, whereupon Washington slipped away westward to North Castle on November 1, 1776. Two weeks later the British forces under Gen. Howe captured the American garrison at Fort Washington, taking more than 2800 prisoners. After deciding to abandon the New York area, Washington moved his forces across the Hudson River and into New Jersey. Joined by General Greene's troops at Hackensack, they retreated together toward the Delaware River with General Cornwallis at their heels.

This is the first state of the map, issued in October 1776, pre-dating the inclusion of the battle of White Plains (the second state has a different title).

Gent-248, Sellers & Van Ee. 1150.
Gentleman's Magazine Biography

The Gentleman’s Magazine was a British publication that helped to normalize the use of maps in support of articles and features. It was founded in 1731 by the prominent London publisher Edward Cave, a pioneer in periodical journalism. The magazine continued in print for nearly two centuries, shuttering production in 1922.

This was the publication which first used the word “magazine”, from the French for storehouse. Cave wanted to create a storehouse of knowledge and he employed some of London’s best writers to fill his pages: Samuel Johnson gained his first regular employment by writing for the Gentleman’s Magazine. Other famous contributors included Jonathan Swift.

The publication covered a broad range of topics, from literature to politics, and, from 1739, frequently used maps as illustrations. The first map they printed was a woodcut of Crimea; the second was a fold-out map of Ukraine by Emanuel Bowen. Maps were used to show battle lines, to chronicle voyages, and to educate about areas with which Britain traded. Certain geographers, like Thomas Jefferys, contributed several maps to the publication.