The founding fathers and mothers attributed the success of the American Revolution to “Divine Providence.” One of the many miracles they recognized was George Washington’s safe retreat from New York
After ending the siege Boston, British General Howe sailed his army to New York with the vast British fleet. General Washington marched his Continental Army to New York to counter General Howe.
After the short Battles of Long Island and Brooklyn Heights, Washington expected the British to attack directly from the sea. Instead, General Howe’s army outflanked Washington’s troops.
The American army was trapped on Brooklyn Heights with their backs against the sea. The Americans were surrounded, outgunned, and outnumbered. If General Howe could force Washington to surrender, the war would be over within months of the signing of the Declaration of Independence.
On the night of August 28, 1776, Washington made the critical decision to evacuate his entire army under cover of darkness by ferrying them across the East River to Manhattan Island. The sea was very rough where the British ships were anchored, but the waters on the East River were incredibly calm. This allowed Washington’s row boats to transport many of the troops, horses and cannons to safety.
By morning, only half of Washington’s army had escaped. The other half was in imminent danger of capture. Washington was desperate.
Suddenly, and miraculously, a thick summer fog covered the river area. Visibility was less than 20 feet. The unexplained fog prevented the British from seeing the daytime evacuation. The fog also kept the British from launching their ships and troops against the Continental Army.
The courageous General Washington bravely insisted on waiting to take the last boat to safety.
Had the Americans not been able to escape under cover of darkness and during the thick fog, they would have been captured or annihilated. Washington would have been hung. The signers of the Declaration would also have been hung for treason. The war would have been over, and the revolution would have been crushed.
This was the only time during the war that the British had the chance to capture the entire American army.
(Sources: Personal tour of Mr. Vernon; Personal research for talk on “America: Divine Birth and Destiny;” Seven Miracles that Saved America, by Chris and Ted Stewart; “Miracle at New York,” BYUtv; “Gen. George Washington’s miraculous retreat from Long Island,” worldtribune.com; “Escape from New York,” HistoryNet; “Battle of Long Island,” Wikipedia.)