On March 3 the Marines captured Nassau without a fight and seized a sizable store of cannon, mortars and munitions. The battle marked the first time American Sailors and Marines responded to the command “Land the landing force.”
Capt. Esek Hopkins of Rhode Island rallied a task force of four ships near the Bahamas on March 1, 1776. The next day Hopkins sent a raiding party of 230 Marines and 50 Sailors ashore under the command of Capt. Samuel Nicholas, the Continental Marines’ first commissioned officer.
The standoff continued throughout the fall and winter. In early March 1776, heavy cannons that the patriots had captured at Fort Ticonderoga were brought to Boston by Colonel Henry Knox, and placed on Dorchester Heights. Since the artillery now overlooked the British positions, Howe’s situation was untenable, and the British fled on March 17, 1776, sailing to their naval base at Halifax, Nova Scotia. Washington then moved most of the Continental Army to fortify New York City.
It is considered the first cruise and one of the first engagements of the newly established Continental Navy and the Continental Marines, the progenitor of the United States Navy and Marine Corps. The action was also the Marines’ first amphibious landing in United States’ history. It is sometimes known as the Raid or Battle of Nassau.