The Battle of Long Island erupted on August 27, 1776. The Continental forces faced near certain defeat until Washington decided to coordinate a risky retreat of his remaining troops. As Joseph Ellis explains in his book Revolutionary Summer, the success of this maneuver likely saved the fledgling nation.
Joseph Plumb Martin, a young man raised by his grandparents, left home at age 15 to serve in the Continental Army. He fought alongside important people and witnessed historic battles, chronicling them in his 1830 book, Memoir of a Revolutionary Soldier. In this selection, Martin describes his thoughts as he enlists.
Independence Day wasn't always a time of celebration. On July 4, 1776—the day the Declaration of Independence was approved by the Second Continental Congress—the prevailing mood was trepidation and fear. In Our Lives, Our Fortunes, and Our Sacred Honor, author Richard Beeman reminds us that the original Independence Day was not viewed so much as a new beginning but as a prelude to full-scale war.