The Fog of Providence
On August 20, 1776, British General William Howe moved his troops, approximately 20,000 strong, into Long Island. Although already under intense fire, Washington’s troops, about 23,000 (mostly militia), were caught off guard by the move. Washington’s men were trapped and being brutalized by the Hessians who took no prisoners, preferring instead to stab the surrendering Americans with their seven-inch bayonets.
Washington’s only hope was to evacuate the American army to Manhattan. The British, however, had already anticipated this move and were prepared to send five warships up the East River to block the retreat. Knowing full well that the American‘s push for independence lay in the balance, Howe ordered an attack on August 23. It looked as if the American cause would be ended here, only a month after independence had been declared.
The Night of August 29
Washington knew that his situation was untenable—it was only a matter of time before Howe would have his victory, and the cause of independence would be lost. That’s when the miraculous happened: the wind shifted. The contrary wind meant that the British ships would not be able to come up river and cut off his retreat. Also, a thick fog rolled-in providing the cover necessary for keeping the retreat from the British high command.
Coolly and decisively, Washington ordered the seafaring Marbleheads of Massachusetts to ferry his troops from Brooklyn. The American army would live to fight another day—and the cause of independence was saved—thanks to a providential change of weather.
Of Nations and Men
On this day, the day that we celebrate the cause of freedom that resulted in the founding of this nation, let us not forget that it is God, and not we ourselves, Who controls the destinies of nations and men.
And He has made from one blood every nation of men to dwell on all the face of the earth, and has determined their preappointed times and the boundaries of their dwellings
And let us give Him thanks for the freedoms we enjoy, and for the brave men and women who have fought—and are fighting—to protect us and our freedoms. May God preserve and protect this great Union. Amen.