The Battle of Long Island was the first battle to take place after the the signing of the Declaration of Independence. American forces (the Continental Army) were positioned on the outskirts of New York with intent of defending it from British attack. General William Howe, who took charge of the British forces during the battle at Bunker Hill, led his soldiers onto Long Island, attacking with cannonfire. He was able to divide the Continental Army in two and captured one part. Washington retreated and British troops set fire to the city of New York. The main forces of the Continental Army retreated, but a group of American sharpshooters remained on the main trail and shot several British officers on horseback. The British soldiers retreated back to New York, however this was still considered a British victory.