“This glorious revolution...distinguished by so many marks of the Divine favor and interposition...in a manner so singular, and I may say miraculous, that when future ages shall read its history they will be tempted to consider a great part of it as fabulous... Will it not appear extraordinary...like the emancipation of the Jews from Egyptian servitude?”
–Chief Justice John Jay, September 8, 1777
The Miracle of Brooklyn Heights
On August 29, 1776, the British had assembled one of the largest invading forces in the history of the world to that point. Over four hundred ships transported 32,000 crack troops across the seas and deposited them in New York’s harbor. One witness said the harbor looked more like a forest as thousands of wooden masts rose into the sky.
On the other hand, their opposition, the Colonial army, led by General George Washington possessed only 11,000 troops, of which 5000 were raw recruits, Connecticut farmers, who not only had no experience, but had not one hour of military drill!
Earlier on May 31, 1776 General Washington wrote his younger brother, John Augustine:
“We expect a very bloody summer of it at New York ... We are not either in men, or arms, prepared for it ... If our cause is just, as I
do most religiously believe it to be, the same Providence* which has in many instances appeared for us, will still go on to afford its aid.”
Also, on May 15, 1776, General George Washington ordered:
“The Continental Congress having ordered Friday the 17th instant to be observed as a Day of Fasting, Humiliation and Prayer,
humbly to supplicate the mercy of Almighty God, that it would
please Him to pardon all our manifold sins and transgressions,
and to prosper the arms of the United Colonies, and finally
establish the peace and freedom of America upon a solid and
lasting foundation; The General commands all officers and
soldiers to pay strict obedience to the orders of the Continental
Congress; that, by their unfeigned and pious observance of their
religious duties, they may incline the Lord the Giver of victory to
prosper our arms.”
The Battle of Brooklyn Heights was the first major battle after America declared independence, and the largest of the entire war. Although the Americans fought bravely, by mid-afternoon, General Washington could only watch as 1500 Americans were killed or captured. In the natural, battle was lost. The Americans had been pushed back, and the British lay across their front, and the East river along their backs---they were trapped---like fish in a barrel, there was no way of escape!! The British could have mounted one last charge and not only would the battle have been lost, but the war would have been all but over! But…remember America was a praying people!
As the Americans waited nervously to defend against the last charge, something happened---what was that something? Nothing! The British did nothing. For at least 4 hours of daylight, the they simply chose not to engage. Darkness descended upon the battle field, and the next day it began to rain.
As the next day dawned, the British had their fleet up river ready to sail down the East river and complete the encirclement, anticipating the surrender of George Washington and the Colonial army—and once again, the end of the war; ‘BUT’ the wind was against them that entire day. That evening, General Washington made one of his most daring moves of the war; he decided to evacuate the men across the East river—one mile across either way. At first his officers argued with him declaring it was impossible without being detected—they declared it is more honorable to fight to the death. However, GW’s word prevailed and the plans were drawn up.
Providentially, some of the last regiments enlisted were from Massachusetts, and had been raised in small boats, who could put oars in and out of the water without a sound. General Washington assigned them as the oarsmen.
A couple of hours into the evacuation, the storm passed, the clouds withdrew, and moon appeared, on a still summer night in August 1776. All night long, the Massachusetts oarsman worked their wonder. Although sound travels over water, and the British sentries within earshot, they heard nothing, and suspected nothing!
At dawn, the miracle reached its apex. Both the British and Americans tell the story, but Major Benjamin Talmedge of the Continental army tells it best.
“As the dawn of the next day approached, those of us who
remained in the trenches became very anxious for our own
safety, and when the dawn appeared there were several
regiments still on duty. At this time, a very dense fog began to
rise off the river, and it seemed to settle in a peculiar manner
over both encampments. I recollect this peculiar providential
occurrence perfectly well, and so very dense was the
atmosphere that I could scarcely discern a man at six yards
distance ... We tarried until the sun had risen, but the fog
remained as dense as ever.”
Now…watch this, all ye doubters and unbelievers in America!!! Each boat could only fit 10-12 men, and under the cover of fog, back and forth they rowed until late that morning!! The fog lifted at precisely the moment the last American soldiers left the shore!! As the final boats pushed away, one of them carrying General George Washington, the British sentries finally seeing what was happening, ran down to water’s edge to fire a couple hapless shots, for the American boats were out of range. Over 9,000 men were delivered that day!
The British wrote in their diaries, “The hand of God is against us!”
For in the time of trouble he shall hide me in his pavilion(shelter) -Ps27:5
General George Washington wrote even before this miracle, August 20, 1778:
“Undergoing the strangest vicissitudes that perhaps ever attended any one contest since the creation...the Hand of Providence has been so conspicuous in all this — the course of the war — that he must be worse than an infidel that lacks faith ... But it will be time enough for me to turn Preacher when my present
YES…the hand of God has been, and is yet upon, this great nation!!!
What God has blessed…no man can curse!!!
*See last week’s tidbit, the Four bullets, to understand to what providence he refers.
Skill and confidence are an unconquered army." George Herbert