July 3, 1776 – The Excitement Build
July 2nd, 1776 was such a momentus day. The Continental Congress had adopted William Henry Lee’s motion to be free and independent states. However, there was still much work to be done on the Declaration of Independence. All of July 3rd and much of July 4th would be spent editing the draft originally presented by Thomas Jefferson and the rest of the Committee of Five.
There were other important things that took place that day. As the Revolutionary War continued:
On July 3, 1776, British troops landed on Staten Island. Over a period of six weeks, British troop strength was increased so that it number over 32,000 by the end of August. Meanwhile, General Washington was preparing his men as well as he could under the circumstances. Washington was hampered by the British control of the sea, which allowed them to conceivably attack either Long Island or Manhattan. Washington decided to defend both vulnerable areas.
In fact, in a letter from General George Washington to the Continental Congress dated July 3, 1776, he expressed his concerns about the situation in New York.
New York, July 3, 1776.
Sir: Since I had the honor of addressing you and on the same day several Ships more arrived within the Hook; making the number that came in them, 110, and there remains no doubt of the whole of the Fleet from Hallifax being now here. Yesterday Evening 50 of them came into the Bay and Anchored on the Staten Island side. Their views I cannot precisely determine, but am extremely apprehensive, as a part of them only came, that they mean to surround the Island and secure the whole stock upon it. I had consulted with a committee of the Provincial Congress on the Subject, and a person was appointed to superintend the business and to drive the Stock off. I also wrote to Brigadier General Herd and directed him to the Measure, lest it might be neglected, but am fearful it has not been effected.
Our reinforcements of Militia are but small yet: Their amount I cannot ascertain, having not been able to procure a return. However, I trust, if the Enemy make an Attack, they will meet with a repulse, as I have the pleasure to inform you, that an agreeable Spirit and willingness for Action, seems to Animate and prevade the whole of our Troops.
As it is difficult to determine what Objects the Enemy may have in contemplation, and whether they may not detach some part of their force to Amboy and to ravage that part of the Country if not to extend their views farther;
I submit it to Congress whether it may not be expedient for them to repeat and press home their requests to the different Governments, that are to provide men for the Flying Camp, to furnish their quotas with all possible dispatch. It is a matter of great Importance and will be of serious consequence to have the Camp established in case the Enemy should be able to possess themselves of this River and cut off the supplies of Troops that might be necessary, on certain emergencies, to be sent from hence.
I must entreat your attention to an application I made some time ago for Flints; we are extremely deficient in this necessary Article and shall be greatly distressed, If we cannot obtain a supply. Of Lead we have a sufficient Quantity for the whole Campaign, taken off the Houses here.
Esteeming it of Infinite Importance, to prevent the Enemy from getting fresh Provisions and Horses for their Waggons, Artillery. I gave orders to a party of our Men on Staten Island, since writing General Herd, to drive the Stock off without waiting for the assistance or direction of the Committee there, lest their slow mode of transacting business might produce too much delay, and have sent this morning to know what they have done. I am this Minute informed by a Gentleman that the Committee of Elizabeth Town, sent their Company of Light Horse, on Monday to effect it, and that some of their Militia was to give their aid Yesterday; he adds he was credibly told last Night, by part of the Militia coming to this place, that Yesterday Evening they saw a good many stock driving of the Island and crossing to the Jerseys. If the business is not executed ere now, It will be impossible to do it. I have the Honor.
General Washington was in a bind. The British had now amassed a large force in New York harbor. There was a risk that they could decide to invade Staten Island or Manhattan as mentioned above. He was outmanned, outgunned and low on supplies. I know it was a long read, but I believe it’s important to see the mindset and concerns that weighed heavy on General Washington’s mind.
As to the other important events of July 3, 1776.
On Wednesday, July 3, 1776, the Convention resolved that a new convention be elected “for the express purpose of forming a new government by the authority of the people only, and enacting and ordering all things for the preservation, safety and general weal of this colony.”