By Joe Darby
I’m not what you’d call a religious fanatic. I’ve had my doubts and struggles with faith over the years. And I don’t think that when a hurricane or earthquake strikes, it’s God calling down his wrath on a sinful humanity.
But I am a student of history and I think God wanted the United States to be born as a nation. Now some on the left will scoff at this notion because they think we are an evil polity and that our Constitution is a racist document from the get-go. They ignore, of course, the ideals that gave birth to the US and the immense good that it has accomplished in the last 250 years.
So why do I take the leap to believe that God desired the creation of this country? There are many examples that I think one could cite that divine intervention, or Providence as our Founders called it, protected the good ole USA.
But the clincher to me is what happened during the Battle of Brooklyn back in the summer of 1776. There were too many occurrences that combined to save George Washington’s army and thereby the Revolution itself, to be mere coincidences. Everything came together perfectly to save the Continental Army.
So I will set the stage for that battle. But first I want to note that it seems Washington had God looking over him for his whole life. During the French and Indian War in the 1760s, when the colonists assisted the British army against the French, Washington was part of a British force that was ambushed. The commander was killed and Washington, who took charge, had several bullet holes in his coat and had more than one horse shot out from under him. Close calls indeed.
Another time, during the Revolutionary War, Washington himself was out scouting in front of the army — rather unwisely, I would think — when the very best sniper in the British army, caught the American general in his sights. The shooter was concealed in a wood and Washington’s fate seemed sealed. But just as the man was getting ready to fire, Washington turned his horse to the rear. The sniper, a true gentleman, refused to shoot his target in the back and Washington left the field safely. We must remember that historians agree that Washington was the “indispensable man,” without whom the Revolution and the new nation itself would have failed.
Anyway, let’s get back to the summer of 1776. That spring Washington had concluded a successful siege of Boston and forced out the British army, which sailed to Canada to refit. But they come back. In great force. To New York City. In August, just weeks after the July 4th Declaration of Independence, the British navy lands some 32,000 veteran troops on Long Island.
Washington sets up his defenses on Brooklyn Heights, across the East River from Manhattan. But the Continentals are badly outnumbered and Washington is also outflanked. He loses the hotly fought Aug. 27 battle and late in the day his men are in no shape to repel another attack. But — and here’s “coincidence” No. 1 — British Gen. William Howe decides, rather incredibly, to delay finishing off the American army until the next day. “We can always get them tomorrow,” was his greatly flawed thinking.
But will they? Because that night, Washington arranges for a group of Continental soldiers-boatmen from Marblehead, Mass., to ferry his thousands of men across the East River to Manhattan and safety. So as soon as darkness falls, the ferrying begins.
The British navy had wanted to sail up the East River with some of their powerful men-of-war ships, to bombard the Continentals’ positions in Brooklyn. Of course such a maneuver would be utterly disastrous to the crossings going on but — No. 2 — a strong north wind blows down the river and keeps the British battleships away from the action.
The crossings are an amazing feat but as dawn approaches there are still many men, and Washington himself, on the east bank of the river. Will the whole enterprise fail at the last moment? No. Much to the Americans’ delight — No. 3 — a heavy fog descends on the area, completely masking the crossing from the British army and navy. One American soldier says he can’t see more than six feet or so, the mist is so dense.
And, to the point of this story, another American who is from the New York area, tells a comrade that he had not seen such a fog on the East River at that time of year for more than 20 or 30 years.
So finally, the last of the soldiers are evacuated and Gen. Washington is in the last boat. And guess what happens just as the ferrying is finally concluded? Why, the fog takes just that moment to lift. No. 4.
Now, as we all know, the American army and Washington live to fight again another day and five years later the general and his French allies force the surrender of a British army at Yorktown in Virginia, putting the seal on the triumph of the American Revolution.
So you may think what you want on the events of that day. To me, it’s pretty obvious that Providence played a crucial role in saving the future US. Hard core leftists will say it was all, indeed, just a bunch of coincidences. I say, thank God for this country.
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