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Shifting Authority 199 with 2,400 troops moving in tight formation through tall grass. The Ameri- cans, pounded by naval guns, watched from behind their earthworks as the waves of British troops in their beautiful but impractical uniforms advanced up the hill. The militiamen waited until the attackers had come within fifteen to twenty paces, then loosed a shattering volley. The Americans cheered as they watched the greatest soldiers in the world retreating in panic. The British re-formed their lines and attacked again. Another sheet of flames and lead greeted them, and the vaunted redcoats retreated a second time. Still, the proud British generals, led by William Howe, were deter- mined not to let the ragtag rustics humiliate them. On the third attempt, when the colonials began to run out of gunpowder and were forced to throw

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