November 16: The Battle of Fort Washington; Operation Queen launched, and other events of the date
A number of important events have taken place on November 16th in U.S. history. Here is our take on the most interesting and valuable of them.
1776 – American Revolutionary War: The Battle of Fort Washington
The Battle of Fort Washington was fought in New York on November 16, 1776, turning out to be one of the worst Patriot defeats during the whole American Revolutionary War, as the Brits under the command of Lieutenant General William Howe forced the American garrison located in the north end of Manhattan to surrender.
Despite the fact that the Commander-in-Chief of the Continental Army George Washington sent an order to the garrison’s commander General Nathanael Green to abandon the fort and retreat to New Jersey, where he could get reinforcements, Green never did so; thus, 3,000 American soldiers fought with courage, but were simply outnumbered by 8,000 British and Hesse-Kassel soldiers.
The fort was attacked from three sides: from the north, east and south. Tides in the Harlem River prevented some British troops from landing and delayed the time of the attack, but when the British forces moved against the defenses, the southern and western American defenses fell relatively quickly. The Patriots on the north side offered tough resistance to the Hessian attack, but they too were overwhelmed eventually. As a result of this defeat a total number of 59 American soldiers were killed, and about 3,000 were captured as prisoners of war.
1863 – American Civil War: Knoxville Campaign: The Battle of Campbell's Station
The Battle of Campbell’s Station occurred in what is today the town of Farragut, Knox County, Tennessee. As a result of a forced marching on the rainy day of November 16, 1863, Union General Ambrose E. Burnside's advance reached the vital intersection and deployed first, with the main column arriving soon after at noon with the baggage train. The Confederates under the command of one of their most prominent generals, James Longstreet, managed to arrive about 15 minutes later, and the clash ensued.
The fate of the battle was decided when the Confederate division under Brigadier General Micah Jenkins maneuvered ineffectively, which was taken advantage of by the Union forces. The Confederates suffered a humiliating defeat, losing no less than 570 soldiers, while the Union lost only 400.
1944 – Second World War: The Western Front: Operation Queen launched
As the Allies rallied towards the German border in the Western Front, the main aim of Operation Queen was to annihilate enemy units at the well-defended German Siegfried Line that was built to protect the strategically and economically important region of Rur.
The offensive, which lasted for about a month, started on November 16, 1944 and was characterized by one of the heaviest Allied tactical bombings of the whole war. The Allied advance eventually became unexpectedly slow, as the Germans resisted heavily, being especially successful in the region of the Hürtgen Forest. Only by the middle of December 1944 did the Allies finally manage to reach the Rur and try to capture the important dams located there.
In response, the Germans launched their own offensive dubbed Wacht am Rhein, stopping the Allies for about two months untill February 1945. Both sides suffered heavy losses during Operation Queen as the Allies suffered no less than 38,500 soldiers killed, wounded, or missing in action, with approximately equal casualties from the German side.
These are the most notable events in U.S. history that occurred on November 16, at least in our view.