One of the first images we included in the Heritage Charts collection was ‘A Plan of Fort Montgomery & Fort Clinton’. The 1779 Samuel Holland plan tells the story of one of the most important and daring engagements of the Revolutionary War which took place in October 1777.
A Plan of Fort Montgomery and Fort Clinton by Samuel Holland and J. F. W. Des Barres. 1779
It was a great thrill, on the way up to the Newport RI International Boat Show, to be able to make a small detour to find the site of Fort Montgomery and witness first-hand the site of such a historic event in the history of American independence.
The site has been extensively excavated and now includes a very well-organized visitor center, as well as an informed tour….
The Visitor Center at Fort Montgomery
(click on the picture to enter the Visitor Center)
….but nothing quite prepares one for the striking view the fort commands over the Hudson (or ‘North’) river.
View from Fort Montgomery looking South down the Hudson with Fort Clinton to the right.
On the actual plan the view is marked in red..
According to Samuel Holland the ‘chain’ (yellow line) and the cable (orange line) which were strung across the river to impede the British advance would have been approximately here..
It is not my intention here to give a full history of events at the time. For that, there are plenty of sources, not least the visitor centre and the supporting New York State Parks web-site. What is worth noting, apart from the striking beauty of the region (even today with Route 202 and the Bear Mountain bridge which now spans the river), is the sheer ingenuity and determination of the American defenders and engineers to impede the British advance in support of General John Burgoyne. Although the British land force of Loyalist, Hessian and regular troops under the command of Sir Henry Clinton along with the supporting naval force prevailed on the 6th October 1777, the victory ultimately proved hollow. The intended reinforcement of Burgoyne’s army further north was fatally delayed and Burgoyne (and the British northern initiative) was forced to surrender ten days later at Saratoga.
Of further interest to the region, as with so many other parts of America are the place names which have emerged from the Revolutionary War period. In the case of this particular corner of New York is the nearby ‘Hessian Lake’, which given American feelings toward the mercenary Hessian force employed by the British, not just in this engagement but throughout the war, is perhaps a little surprising.
More images from Fort Montgomery..
Plan of the fort
Click image for more information
I see no more ships, so it must be time for a lemonade!..