6. A major British amphibious landing took place in Kips Bay during the Revolutionary War

Kips Bay waterfront

The Landing at Kip’s Bay was the site of a British amphibious landing on the East River during the Revolutionary War. The British, commanded by Henry Clinton and Richard Howe, faced off against the troops of George Washington on September 15, 1776. The British had earlier embarked on a campaign to gain control of New York City, and forces under William Howe made landings at Staten Island and Long Island, leading Washington to retreat into Manhattan. Washington, in anticipation of Howe’s next attack, spread troops across Manhattan (also called York Island at the time) and Westchester. Howe’s troops were in fact moving north up the East River, and Nathanael Greene advised Washington to retreat from Manhattan and burn the city. Washington ultimately decided to abandon New York City, moving north to Harlem while some troops stayed south.

Howe landed at Kip’s Bay while American troops struggled to return fire due to intense dust and smoke. Washington and his troops arrived at Kip’s Bay after the landing began, and he reportedly expressed anger toward his troops for becoming disordered. After only a few obeyed his commands, he supposedly shouted, “Are these the men with which I am to defend America?” Increasingly more British soldiers arrived as the battle progressed, but most of the Americans managed to escape north. After the landing, the British raised the Union Jack over New York City, and Howe led his troops up to Harlem. Washington called the actions of his troops “scandalous” and “shameful.” Just one day later, however, he engaged with the British at the Battle of Harlem Heights which was a costly but important American victory.