The Spy Ring That Saved the American Revolution (2013)
During the Spring of 1776, GW and his army moved from Boston to New York City, and in the army and among the patriot civilians was a sense of optimism and excitement, but GW saw things for what they really were . . . the situation was bleak. NYC was viewed by both the Americans and the British as the key for holding the Colonies.
NYC was the second-largest city and the commercial center of the Colonies, with the Hudson River and a huge port. NYC was of immense strategic value, and GW knew that he couldn't hold it against the shock-and-awe of the British onslaught. Losing NYC would be not only a strategic blow, but also a blow to the morale of his army, civilians, and the Continental Congress. While GW knew that his army would not be able to defend NYC against the British, for political reasons he needed to make a serious attempt to defend the city.
The British amassed forces in undefended Staten Island just across from Manhattan and Brooklyn, where GW had located his forces. By August 1776 King George III finally understood that it was a war in America, which meant that no mercy would be shown American soldiers. The British combined forces under Generals Howe and Henry Clinton numbered over 50,000, while GW's army was around 10,000, and GW's army lacked equipment and training.
GW divided his men into five groups, with one on Long Island, another in upper Manhattan, with the remaining three in lower Manhattan. GW felt that all the approaches to his positions were secure, but he was aware that one route, Jamaica Pass, was only defended by five men; GW deemed that route unlikely, gambling that the British would not be aware of the mostly untraveled route.
GW now found himself and a sizable portion of his army trapped at Brooklyn Heights. GW knew that he still had Manhattan Island, but he also knew that the British would soon overrun that position as well. GW and his men defended their untenable position, losing 300 KIA, 700 WIA, and 1000 were captured, while the British and the Hessians lost 64 KIA and 293 WIA.
GW gambled that he could ferry his men across the river overnight, and he was aided by British sentries that failed to spot the Americans as they started their amphibious escape. During the night, a dense fog rolled in, and GW had his miracle. GW was the last to leave Brooklyn Heights hours after dawn before the fog burned off and crossed over to Manhattan. But at most, GW had only gained a few days before Howe made his move on Manhattan, so GW took his men to Connecticut.
While GW had saved his army, morale among his men was low. But GW had learned an invaluable lesson in that there was no way he could go toe-to-toe with the British in a conventional war . . . so GW decided that he would engage the British in unconventional warfare, which included forming a spy ring so he would have the necessary information ahead of time that he lacked in New York City . . .