Abandoned on Montresor's Island - Michael Jackson's Lone Boat

Abandoned on Montresor's Island - Michael Jackson's Lone Boat

Colonel Michael Jackson served in the failed attack on Montresor’s Island.

This brief fight was one of several embarrassing episodes for the Continental Army in the immediate aftermath of the Battle of Long Island.

Jackson received a wound during the engagement which would haunt him for the rest of his life.


Michael Jackson

Michael Jackson was serving as a Captain in the Massachusetts Militia when he responded to an alarm warning that the British were coming.

This event turned into the Battle of Lexington and Concord and from that very first day Jackson began fighting in the Revolutionary War.

Two months later, he received a wound in the Battle of Bunker Hill.

Jackson participated in the Siege of Boston before moving to New York where he witnessed the American defeat in the Battle of Brooklyn.


September 23, 1776

The Redcoats had begun attacking Manhattan when the Continental Army had received what appeared to be helpful intelligence. 

Two British soldiers defected and came to General William Heath informing him that Montresor’s Island, which lay about 8 miles north of New York City, was ripe for the taking.

Within 24 hours the Americans were on the move. Heath sent three boats and a total of 240 men to seize the island.

Michael Jackson was given command of this mission.

Confusion

While crossing the water, a Continental soldier on patrol confronted the boats. It was dark and he could not see who was there so they began yelling at each other. When the boats began sailing away instead of showing themselves, the patrolman (rightfully) sent a gunshot their way.

This friendly fire alerted the British on Montresor’s Island to the incoming attack and gave them time to prepare.

Several of the Officers and Privates on the boats became started and believed they were being sent on a suicide mission. By the time Jackson’s lead boat arrived, the other two vessels had turned to flee.


Retreat

Jackson did not realize he had been abandoned until his feet were on the ground.

The Redcoats began firing immediately and Michael turned around to shout for the other boats to come and assist in the attack. Almost immediately a bullet struck his leg, shattering the bone.

Seeing that some of his men were already being taken prisoner, Jackson was forced to order a retreat. He was carried to the boat and they sailed away, being shot at until they were out of view.


Aftermath

Although he was promoted to Colonel just a few months later, Jackson’s wound meant that he could not fully participate on the field. 

Instead, he spent the majority of his remaining service completing administrative work. Notably, he was tasked with presiding over dozens of courts martial for a plethora of crimes.

Michael continued with the Continental Army until it was disbanded in November of 1783, making him one of the few men who served from the very first day of the Revolutionary War until the very last.


Want to read about more Founders who were wounded in service of their country?

Check out these articles:

Samuel Whittemore - The Oldest Revolutionary, The Most Courage

Nathaniel Ramsey is Left For Dead

Thomas Heyward Jr. - Songwriting Prisoner

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