Battle of Brooklyn 1776, by  David Roberts

 Written for The Winter 2006 issue of the "Generator" (The St. Mary's County, Maryland Genealogical Society's newsletter)
     SMCGS member Linda Reno will be speaking to the Society at our 23 January 2006 meeting on the subject "Maryland 400." Linda's talk will be about the  role played by soldiers from Maryland in helping to save General Washington's army from total disaster during and after the Battle of Brooklyn in August 1776. There is an interesting article online written by Linda Reno on the same subject entitled, Maryland 400’ helped turn Revolution’s early tide, from the Wednesday, May 31, 2006 issue of "the Generator."  I am sure we will all learn something about this critical point in American History from Linda.
      For both those who will be able to come and hear Linda's lecture and those who live away and can't make our meetings, I want to give you a list of books you might wish to read that will give you some background on this important battle. First, there is David McCullough's current best-seller 1776, which I highly recommend. Although you might not figure it out from
 the title, perhaps an even better book on this early phase of the war is David Hackett Fischer's Washington's Crossing [2004].
      Barnet Schecter's The Battle for New York: The City at the Heart of the American Revolution [2002] and noted historian Thomas Fleming's 1776: Year of Illusions [1975] are both good additional sources of information. Why did the British attack the New York area in the summer of 1776? Both Divided Loyalties: How the American Revolution Came to New York by
Richard M. Ketchum [2002] and Under the Guns: New York 1775-1776 by Bruce Bliven, Jr. [1972] will give you the military and political reasons that the British thought New York would be the base from which they could re-conquer the rebellious American colonies.
      If you want some good, general overviews of the American Revolution, one of  the best is Liberty! by Thomas Fleming [1997], the companion book to the PBS television series. This book is beautifully illustrated. Another well illustrated volume is The American Heritage Book of the Revolution [1971] with the narrative by Bruce Lancaster. From the Oxford History of the United States series Robert Middlekauff's The Glorious Cause: The American Revolution, 1763-1789 is solid reading. Page Smith wrote a highly readable two volume work A New Age Begins: A People's History of the American Revolution [1976]. For the military side of the war, the modern classic is [The War of the Revolution] by Christopher Ward [1952].
     If you are interested in "first person" accounts of the war, you might find  The Revolution Remembered: Eyewitness Accounts of the War for Independence edited by John C. Dunn [1980] and [The Spirit of 'Seventy-Six: The Story of the American Revolution as Told by Participants] edited by Henry Steele Commager and Richard B. Morris [1975] worthwhile. My personal favorite,
 written in his old age by a former 15 year-old teenage soldier who joined Washington's army just after the defeat at Brooklyn, is Private Yankee Doodle by Joseph Plumb Martin, edited by George F. Sheer [1963].
    And you can't really know much about the Battle of Brooklyn, unless you know something about the great man who tasted bitter defeat there, General George  Washington. The "standard" biography is still Douglas Southall Freeman's massive George Washington: A Biography. Volume Four Leader of the Revolution [1951] covers the events around the Battle of Brooklyn. A bit newer is George Washington in the American Revolution (1775-1783) [1968],  the second of a four volume biography by James Thomas Flexner. More recent biographies include His Excellency George Washington [2004] by Joseph Ellis, General George Washington: A Military Life [2005] by Edward G. Lengel, and Bruce Chadwick's George Washington's War: The Forging of a Revolutionary Leader and the American Presidency [2004].