The Battle of Harlem Heights, 1776


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(Westholme Publishing, November 2022, ISBN 978-1-59416-394-4) The Battle of Harlem Heights is a largely unappreciated milestone in American military history. This engagement on upper Manhattan Island on September 16, 1776 marked the first successful battlefield outcome achieved by George Washington’s troops in the quest for independence from Great Britain and presaged the gradual emergence of an effective fighting force among the citizen-soldiers who made up the Continental Army and bore the brunt of young America’s struggle for political and economic self-determination. The cooperative effort of regiments from New England, Maryland, and Virginia—whose men lacked any sense of national identity before the Revolution—indicated the potential for this fledgling army to cohere around a common national purpose and affiliation and become the primary instrument for gaining American independence.

This work seeks to convey an enhanced appreciation of the battle and to raise the historical profile of a key participant who is largely unknown except among Revolutionary War aficionados. Colonel Thomas Knowlton of Connecticut was mortally wounded at Harlem Heights while leading an elite contingent known as Knowlton’s Rangers, the U.S. Army’s first intelligence and reconnaissance unit. Knowlton and his Rangers precipitated and were especially conspicuous in the battle, and the extensive focus on him and the men he led lends this volume a distinctive quality. No other modern-day work has incorporated this level of detail about the colonel’s life and especially his remarkable record in the War of Independence and his role as the father of American military intelligence.

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David's book is part of the Small Battles Series launched by Westholme Publishing in 2020. Publisher Bruce Franklin is collaborating with historians Mark Edward Lender and James Kirby Martin, series editors, to offer a fresh and important new perspective on the story of America’s early military conflicts that focuses on these engagements at their most intimate and revealing level. In their introduction to the book, the editors write: "The Battle of Harlem Heights, 1776 is the fourth title in the Small Battles Series, and we are very pleased to recommend it." 

A nineteenth-century print engraved by James Charles Armytage based on the "Battle of Harlem" by Alonzo Chappel (1859), which depicts the 42nd (Royal Highland) Regiment of Foot—known as “The Black Watch”—in retreat during that engagement (New York Public Library, Emmet Collection).

Advance Praise for THE BATTLE OF HARLEM HEIGHTS, 1776

"David Price's The Battle of Harlem Heights, 1776 is a refreshing and detailed account of this little-known battle and the life of an interesting and significant man, Thomas Knowlton, whose rising contributions to the American cause were cut short by his death during it. Price’s account emphasizes the experiences of individuals in the context of the events that engulfed them. Price often employs the words of the participants as he weaves the important story together. This account should bring about more interest in, and understanding of, the early development of the Continental army." 
—WiILLIAM L. (LARRY) KIDDER, author of The Revolutionary World of a Free Black Man: Jacob Francis, 1754-1836 and Ten Crucial Days: Washington’s Vision for Victory Unfolds

"Nice work! This is a carefully researched and well-documented book that will be appealing to serious scholars as well as any bookworm searching for something new to read.”
—KIM BURDICK, M.A., M.P.A., founder of the American Revolution Round Table of Northern Delaware and author of Revolutionary Delaware: Independence in the First State

"David Price's fluid narrative is not only exciting but informative and thought-provoking. I highly recommend the Battle of Harlem Heights, 1776 as a must-read to understand this early American battlefield success in the Revolution.”
—ROGER S. WILLIAMS, Vice-Chair, History Committee, National Society of the Sons of the American Revolution

"Once again, David Price has given us a stirring account of a long-overlooked, small but important Revolutionary action, coupled with the tale of a heroic but mostly forgotten Revolutionary leader. Price takes us through the lead-up to, and the action at, Harlem Heights in September, 1776, along with the story of Thomas Knowlton. One hundred and twenty-five years after Henry Johnston’s telling, Price analyzes the battle and its significance in the New York campaign as well as the developing Revolution. An important new history."”
—BILL WELSCH, President, American Revolution Round Table of Richmond and cofounder of the Congress of American Revolution Round Tables  

"In his inimitable fashion, David Price has done it again. As in Rescuing the Revolution and John Haslet's World, Price vividly tells the story of a little-known American, Thomas Knowlton of Connecticut, who deserves to be better known. He played a key role in the Battle of Harlem Heights, the first victory of the American army and one of the few bright spots in the dismal New York campaign of 1776. Knowlton had organized an elite intelligence and reconnaissance unit, at Washington's urging, that was the forerunner of all military intelligence units in the U.S. Army. The Knowlton Award, established in 1995 by the Military Intelligence Corps Association for excellence in military intelligence or support thereof, is a recent acknowledgment of his brief but important role in the Revolution. Alas, Knowlton was killed at Harlem Heights, aged only 35, cutting short the life of one of Washington's most promising officers. This may be one of the less-celebrated stories of the Revolution, but Price excels at bringing these to life, reminding us again that the unsung heroes deserve to have their stories told too.”
—KIM P. GALLAGHER, Ph.D., Trustee and Historical Interpreter, Princeton Battlefield Society 

"For those who enjoy learning about the second-tier stories of the Revolutionary War, David Price’s fourth book, The Battle of Harlem Heights, 1776, is very worthwhile reading. This battle is usually mentioned briefly when discussing the New York campaign. David has a unique style that makes for informative and very interesting reading. I heartily recommend his latest book in order to get a clearer understanding of the importance of this engagement and especially the tragic loss of two of the army’s very capable young leaders. The reader will learn how important this victory was to restoring the morale of the Continental Army at a time when it needed it most.”
—THOMAS MADDOCK II, Historical Interpreter, Washington Crossing Historic Park

"In this well-written and well-researched book, simultaneously illuminating and entertaining, David Price takes the obscure Battle of Harlem Heights and brings it to life for modern-day readers. One can only hope that it will give this important historical event the attention it has long deserved.”
—JEFFREY EVAN BROOKS, author of Shattered Nation: An Alternate History Novel of the American Civil War 

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David's books are available wherever books are sold.

— The Battle of Harlem Heights, 1776 can be purchased online through Westholme Publishing, or from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, The Fort Plain Museum Bookstore, or other booksellers.

— David's other books, from Knox Press, can be purchased online here by selecting the desired book and a listed bookseller, or you may choose to support one of the historic sites listed below: