Heritage: Northampton Battalion Weakened After the Battle of Brooklyn


By Phil Storch - Call associate Editor

These articles have shown how, after the colonists entered into armed conflict with the British at Lexington, the Lehigh Valley citizens, well-organized long before the actual combat, joined Washington's troops in the Boston area. They fought valorously.

On Jan 24, 1776, Gen. Henry Knox reached Cambridge, Mass., with weaponry captured at Ft. Ticonderoga, N. Y. He had with him 43 cannon and 16 mortars, heavy artillery hauled over land by his troops. With this equipment, the patriots planned to capture Dorchester Heights, a vantage point from which Boston could be within range of Knox's artillery. By March 7, Gen. Sir William Howe had decided to evacuate Boston and within a few weeks he did so.

In the weeks that followed, while congress was busy at Philadelphia taking the steps that led to the July 4th adoption of the Declaration of Independence, Washington was moving his troops southward to New York City. The troops were told of the declaration on July 9th, a day after it's announcement by Congress.

After evacuating Boston, Gen. Howe laid plans to use New York as headquarters for his operations and by early April he had started the move by water. He landed July 2nd. on Staten Island with about 10,000 men. His brother Adm. Lord Richard Howe, also arrived with a strong fleet of warships and 150 transports.

Gen. Howe continued to gather men throughout July and August and by mid-August had 32,000 troops,9,000 of them Hessians. He struck on Aug. 27th , in the vicinity of Brooklyn Heights, Long Island.

In the battle of Brooklyn, the than- Northampton County troops with the Flying Camp fought under Washington. The Americans were beaten badly, forcing Washington to retreat. More than 1,000 Americans were killed.

The battle took place Aug. 29th. Afterwards, Lt. Col. Jacob Arndt of Northampton County rallied at Elizabeth N. J., but only 33 of the original 92 members could report for muster.

The 1st Northampton Battalion had been in the thickest of the fight, considered one of the fiercest of the war. Arndt was severely wounded, along with Col. Peter Kichlein.

The main battle took place along what is known as the Narrows Road, between 38th and 40th streets, Brooklyn. The Americans were defeated because the British not only out numbered but also out flanked and surprised them on the Jamaica Road. Both Lotz and Kichlein were taken prisoner, as were four other officers of the Northampton County contingent. They , with other prisoners were exchanged Sept. 19, 1779.

Washington withdrew from New York and started his march across New Jersey into Pennsylvania. About this time a number of the 17,000 Hessian troops furnished Great Britain by Germany were added to the British forces and they joined Gen. Howe in pursuit of the Americas. History relates how a great contingent of Hessians was later captured at the battle of Trenton, and how they were taken to Lancaster, Reading and Allentown.

Taking the German mercenaries to the Pennsylvania towns resulted in occasional disturbances. Prisoners and American citizens were unable to get along, and there was a series of altercations. A number of the captured Hessians were moved to a hold. The place became known as the " Hessian Camp." A number also were held at a point in the vicinity of Jordan and Gordan streets in what is now Allentown.