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This Day in History: John Glover outwits the British

On this day in 1776, Americans fight the Battle of Pell’s Point. The battle was later described as a “smart & close Skirmish” in which the “Men behaved with great coolness & Intrepidity . . . .”

The battle did one other thing: It demonstrated, yet again, why our ancestors would have valued the right to bear arms. After all, a technically inferior (but armed) force of colonists quickly taught the larger superior British force a lesson.

Washington’s army was then reeling from a series of demoralizing defeats. A crushing loss at Brooklyn Heights had been followed by a miraculous midnight escape across the East River. Americans were run out of Manhattan, but at least won the Battle of Harlem Heights on September 16.

Now, they were on the run again. A British armada of 150 ships had sailed into Long Island Sound on October 12. Those troops disembarked at Throg’s Neck, just to the east of Washington’s position at Harlem Heights.

Well, at least, Howe’s forces tried to disembark. Their landing spot was poorly chosen. It wasn’t really attached to the mainland, making the approach more difficult than Howe anticipated. American riflemen were able to keep the British at bay, and Howe was forced to re-evaluate the situation. The delay gave Washington time to act. He could see that he was about to get trapped, so he began moving toward White Plains.