Sunday, February 23, 2014

Chevaux de Frise at Plum Point

Giving something a beautiful French name does not turn it into something valuable.

That truism could be applied to the Chevaux de Frise.  The devices would fail and yet the revolutionaries would spend more precious time and money creating more of them.  It was as if the romance of the name had over powered their common sense.

Chevaux de Frise translates from French as "Horses of the Frisians".   According to Wikipedia, the Frisians, having few cavalry, created a line of spikes to act as anti-cavalry obstacles in warfare. The term came to be used for any spiked obstacle, such as broken glass embedded in mortar on the top of a wall.

Chevaux de Frise - anti-cavalry
The anti-ship version was apparently an American invention in the Revolutionary War.  It consisted of pointed spears hidden slightly below the water line that would pierce the hull of any ship sailing into it.  The spears were long timbers with an iron tip.  They were held in place by attaching them to large crates made from logs.  Each crate was hauled to its position in the river and then sunk by filling the crate with stone.

Chevaux de Frise - submerged beneath surface of river
This idea had been tried further down the Hudson between Forts Washington and Lee with no success.  A similar failure was experienced on the Delaware River at Fort Mifflin.  Despite these failures the concept was pushed by Phillip Schuyler and Robert Livingston and endorsed by Generals Washington and Heath.  More than 100 chevaux-de-frise were to be located between Plum Point near New Windsor and Pollepel Island, a rocky obstruction close to the eastern bank.  By the first snows of the 1776, work had been started on the spears, crates, and accumulation of stone.   The Ringwood forge was making 40 points per day for the tips of the Chevaux.

In late 1776 and early 1777, the Campbells who were not guarding the Highland passes were undoubtedly involved in the building of the Chevaux de Frise at New Windsor.  They could have been cutting down trees or hauling them in crude sleighs over the snow-packed road to New Windsor.  The spears needed to be shaped and the point fastened to the end.  The crates needed to be constructed and the lower sections tarred so they could be floated to their destinations.  Huge amounts of stones needed to be stockpiled for the eventual sinking of the crates.  And finally, the dangerous job of positioning of the chevaux de frise on the river bed required ropes, pulleys, and anchors.

This was no small or unimportant enterprise.  Their construction had been endorsed by Washington and the power brokers of New York State.   General George Clinton took this so seriously that he located himself at New Windsor rather than at Fort Montgomery or Ramapo.  

The magnitude of the endeavor is realized when one views a recovered spear of a Chevaux de Frise in the Museum at George Washington’s Headquarters in Newburgh (which has a no photography policy).  The log is mammoth in diameter (much bigger than the one from Fort Mifflin shown below).  And most of the spears needed to be at least 40 feet long.  Even in pristine North America such large trees were at a premium.  We know this because Congress passed a law protecting all trees that were large enough for ships’ masts.  At least 300 of these large spears were needed for the Chevaux de Frise. 

The frames supporting the spears and holding the ballast of stones were the size of barges.  They were described as having “a floor of logs 40 foot by 45 foot....with sides so high as to hold stones enough to sink it.”   Most of the work was being done at New Windsor and it is very likely that the Campbells who were not on command in the Highlands were employed in this endeavor.

Chevaux de Frise tips at Fort Mifflin - These were recovered from the Delaware River. 

Chevaux de Frise tips in museum at Fort Mifflin.
Why were the Chevaux de Frises not placed at West Point?  Even though the distance from Plum Point to Pollepel Island was much larger than the shore to shore distance at West Point, the river at West Point is much too deep for Chevaux de Frise.  The picture below is taken from Plum Point looking at Pollepel Island.

Plum Point looking at Pollepel Island

Battery named after Captain Machin, the engineer on this project.

Bannerman's Castle ruins on Pollepel Island
On October 15, 1777 the Chevaux de Frises were put to the test as a fleet of British ships sailed past New Windsor on its way to Kingston.  The ships passed without incident.  So much for the lovely French name.


Even after this failure the continental army did not give up on the concept of Chevaux de Frise.  They blamed the incomplete state of the obstruction.  Work to complete it was quickly authorized.  They also beefed up Machin's Battery, the fortification that overlooked the obstruction.

Samuel Crawford, who served in both Hasbroucks and McClaughry's militias (as did the Campbells), states in his pension that in November and December of 1777 he was "engaged in building forts at a place in the county of Orange [it was Ulster County in 1777] on said North River called Nichol's Point and was quartered in a barn belonging to one Leonard Nichols where he spent Christmas day."  Nichols (Nicoll's) Point was another name for Plum Point.

Another veteran from Hanover Precinct (the precinct of most of the Campbells), John McMichael, describes in his pension how he was ordered for the "purpose of erecting a fortification at Nicol's Point near New Windsor" in November of 1777.

Lt Colonel Hardenburg of Hasbrouck's militia confirms this service by his regiment in a 1778 letter to Governor Clinton complaining of the burden placed on his men.   He wrote:  "I think our heavy loaded with military Dutys, by what our Neighbours are. Remember, after the Reduction of fort Montgomry, when Esopus was  consumed, where was Collo. Pawlings & Snyders Regt. they were not To be Seen. Remember the Six weeks Service in Nov'r Last at Nickols's Point — where was Pawlings & Snyders Regts., Even Orange County militia which were Equilly ordered in that Service with us, but did not attend, when our Regt. attended in full."

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Fort Constitution - October 6, 1777

Fort Constitution was the earliest defensive position built on the Hudson River in the Highlands during the Revolutionary War...before West Point, before Fort Clinton, and before Fort Montgomery.  The fort is often considered synonymous with the island it sits on, Constitution Island.  The Island is currently part of the West Point Military Reservation and is therefore rather difficult to get access to.  A conservation group, the Constitution Island Association ( tries to preserve its history and offers a few tours during the summer.

1775 Sketch of Hudson River by Clinton and Tappan.  Annotations added.  In reality West Point juts further east and there is not an unobstructed view down river from Constitution Island.

My interest in the island is that it was well known to the Campbells and others of the Ulster militia.  It was only a short five mile boat trip from New Windsor to get there.  The inhabitants of Hanover, Newburgh, and New Windsor were the closest labor force to construct fortifications at that location.  My guess is that they were there often, perhaps willing (as some of the craftsmen (artificers) were well paid) as well as unwilling (drafted from their militia companies).

Google Terrain map of Constitution Island

During the battle of Fort Montgomery on October 6, 1777 there were about 100 militia at Fort Constitution, the majority if not all from Colonel Hasbrouck's regiment.  One author has stated that Hasbrouck's was the most highly represented militia at the battle, but the most useless.  They were six miles from the action and made no effort to come to the aide of their comrades.   The garrisons at Forts Clinton and Montgomery were outnumbered about three to one by the British.

Joel Campbell and his sons Joel, William, and Joshua were in Hasbrouck's regiment.  In addition it included Levi and Nathan Campbell, Joel's brothers, as well as William McDowell, the wife of Joel's sister, Mary.  Whether they were all there, we have no record.  We do know that by the evening of October 5, 1777 all members of the militia had been called out.  If they were not there, they were delinquent or exempt.

From Constitution Island the troops did not have direct sight six miles downriver.  They would have heard the echoes of muskets and cannon and seen the gun smoke rising.  Did the officers send out observers by land or water to gather more direct intelligence?  It appears not.

Captain Gershom Mott, commander of the 30 artillerymen on Constitution Island, testified "that no orders were rec'd for their conduct during the attack.."   They were alert, scared, and perhaps frustrated that they had been forgotten.  Apparently they were also thinking about how they would evacuate should the British break through the chain at Fort Montgomery.

At about 4 p.m., during what would have been the heat of the battle, "about 12 or 14 boats came up to the Fort from below which were sufficient to have carried off all of the cannon, stores, etc at Fort Constitution..."  Captain Mott "advised Maj [Lewis] Dubois to use them for that purpose if necessary."  According to Mott, the Major said he would look into it but the "men in the boats would not stay to take them in."  The panic was growing.

Depiction of the sea battle in front of Fort Montgomery.  Anthony's Nose is the hill covered with fall foliage.  To the left of the chain appear to be two frigates, the Congress and Montgomery.  The sloop is the Camden and two galleys involved were the Lady Washington and the Shark.  All were run aground and burned except for the Lady Washington.  In addition there were "boats and scows of all kinds sufficient to bring over 1000 men"...reinforcements that never arrived.

After dark and after the sound of cannon and musket fire had ceased, the survivors of the battle started trickling into Fort Constitution.  Captain Machin of the artillery had escaped despite a serious breast wound.  He found the Island in great confusion, "the men in a mobbish condition."  Machin (the same Machin whose engineering skills had been used to design and construct the chain at Fort Montgomery) urged Mott, his fellow Captain, to load his cannon and ammunition in boats.  He could sail them to New Windsor and make a stand there at the Chevaux de Frise (more about this obstruction in a future blog).

Once again it appears this was either not possible or that even high level officers failed in their command.  Colonel Lamb of the artillery and Colonel Dubois of the 5th New York shortly arrived at the Island.  The only higher ranking continental officer at the battle was General James Clinton who had been wounded, but successfully escaped.  Colonels Lamb and Dubois ordered the removal of the stores, but once again, either their orders were not followed or they could not be followed.

There are two accounts of the fate of the stores on the Island.  The first from Captain Machin who testified that "nothing was done...the whole fell into the Enemy's hands."  The second from Captain Mott who said "nothing was saved of any consequence but six boxes of musket cartridges and some blacksmith tools.  The rest were burnt with the barracks."  Either outcome was not a good one.

Meanwhile the frigate Congress was struggling with the wind and tide just off the shore of the Island.  The Congress had been constructed at Poughkeepsie and was undermanned, undergunned, and maybe underskippered.  It had stayed away from the action at the chain, presumably in reserve.

A drawing of the frigate Providence which was of similar design as the Congress.

It was late at night when Captain Thomas was sent out with several artillerymen to give assistance to the Congress.  But the panic was contagious.  There was no will to wait for a change in the wind and tides.  They could probably see her sister ship, the Montgomery, in flames down river.  The sloop Camden and galley Shark were also ablaze. Very early in the morning of the 7th the Congress was set on fire.

The fires in the distance were another blow to the morale of the sleepless militia as they made their way in the dark to Fishkill landing.  By late morning they had been ferried over to New Windsor.

A few of the artillery men remained on the Island.  On the 7th they fired on a flag of truce that the British forces had sent upstream.  The small ship quickly retreated.  It was one last pathetic action before totally deserting the island.

It was not until the 8th that the British landed on the Island, finding it deserted and destroyed.


Further up the river a battle had been fought that would change the war.  The word of the victory at Saratoga had not yet filtered down to the lower Hudson.  Within a few weeks the British would desert the Hudson Valley leaving its inhabitants to debate whether or not to rebuild Fort Constitution.  That decision would affect the Campbells and the rest of the Hudson Valley in the years to come.  

View from Fort Constitution down river.  Note that approaching ships are blocked from view by West Point on the right.
Dock at Fort Constitution where in 1778 a chain would be attached.
Remains of southwest battery on Constitution Island.  Seen from West Point.  Bull Hill in far background.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Joshua Campbell - On the Frontiers in 1778

[Saturday  October 24, 1778]  Robert Milliken's Home  (The normal rendezvous point)

Joshua Campbell (son of Joel Campbell) had worked on Fort Montgomery last year as a sixteen year old.  He undoubtedly did the same work described by his neighbor Robert Aldrich who “worked hard at drawing stones, cutting sod, and facines.”[i]  Perhaps Joshua was also at the Battle of Fort Montgomery.  If so he was likely at Fort Constitution where most of Colonel Jonathan Hasbrouck’s militia were stationed. 

The fortifications on the great North River were his first taste of military life.  Now he was seventeen and the action had moved to the frontier.  On this day he was recruited into a 30-day levy that was to serve in the western portions of Ulster County...   the Frontier.  He found himself in the company of Captain William Cross of Colonel John Cantine’s Third Ulster Militia regiment.[ii]  His uncle, Reuben Campbell, was also recruited into the same regiment but serving under Captain Johannes Hardenburgh.[iii]

As the days became shorter and colder, the glamour of army life quickly faded.  Joshua’s location was recorded as “Mamakating.”  That description comprised quite a large area in western Ulster.  The bulk of the troops were likely at a place called Napanoch on the west side of the Shawangunks (north of Ellenville).  From Napanoch it was 11 miles southwest down the valley to the gap in the mountains and the main east-west road.  From there it was another 11 miles to Peenpack.  The boredom might have led a few of them into a bit of mischief.

Whatever trouble they got themselves into, it cost them a months pay.  It is possible that the payment was for supplies and militia accoutrements and not for restitution of ill deeds.  But a record of this sort typically does not exist for the routine outfitting of troops. Joshua Campbell and eleven other members of his company signed a contract on November 18 to have their captain direct their monthly wages to Private John Shorter.[iv]  The other soldiers were George Grover, Robert Dayly, David Gillespy, Daniel Helms Cpl, Samuel Hull, Abraham Milspaugh, William Smith Cpl, Archibald Thompson, Gabriel Truxes, and Israel Tuthill.

IOU from Joshua Cambel and 11 others to John Shorter.

This IOU is signed on the reverse by John Shorter:  “16th April 1779 then Recd of Willm Cross thirty three Pound ten Shill and ten Pence Being in full of the within teder Pr me  John Shorter.

Wages – 31-15- 3
Rations - 5-
Deduction for Ammunition 3-4-4” [v]

Back of IOU.  Signed by John Shorter acknowledging full payment of amounts due.  This was five months after the initial IOU was signed.

If we only knew the rest of the story! 

[i] Revolutionary War Records,, NY Pension Records for Robert Aldrich
[ii] Revolutionary War Rolls, National Archives, Roll 73, Folder 86, Image 236.
[iii] Revolutionary War Rolls, National Archives, Roll 73, Folder 86, Image 241.
[iv] Revolutionary War Rolls, National Archives, NY, Jansen’s Regiment, Folder 120, p. 19.
[v] Revolutionary War Rolls, National Archives, NY, Jansen’s Regiment, Folder 120, p. 18.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Anthony's Nose on October 6, 1777

Anthony's Nose is the name given to the rock formation opposite Forts Clinton and Montgomery.  This is not a recent name or a nickname.  This hill was known by this name even before the British attacked the two Forts at this location on October 6, 1777.

The base of this hill base supports the east end of the Bear Mountain bridge.

Self Portrait from atop Anthony's Nose looking west.
A "nose-like"protrusion from the hill gave it its name.  When options for obstructing British ships were being discussed during the Revolutionary War, one off-the-wall idea was to blast this protrusion into the river.

I have also seen maps of the period that give the name "Anthony's Nose" to the entire ridge, not just the peak close to the river (which seems to be its common usage).  Whether the name refers to the peak, the ridge, or a feature sticking out of the hill may be irrelevant when we think of how people referred to locations (and still do).  Is Times Square a square? does it have an address?  or does it refer to an area?  or all of the above.

Anthony's Nose from former Fort Clinton.  The chain was anchored to the left of the current bridge.

There is one other odd reference to Anthony's Nose.  When General Clinton was ordered to lead the New York State Levies and march immediately to Kingsbridge in August of 1776, he was to leave 200 men "at the pass of Anthony's Nose."  Perhaps this is referring to the gap that the Hudson River flows through?  Or was it referring to some mountain pass further down the ridge?

You can see from the picture above why this spot is a favorite hiking destination.  It towers over the river and over the locations of the forts on the opposite shore.  However in 1777 the Americans had not thought of fortifying this position.  A British cannon on this spot could cause considerable mischief to the forts on the opposite side.  [The Americans would eventually learn this lesson and erect numerous redoubts on the high spots surrounding West Point.]

Anthony's Nose had not been totally neglected.  In August of 1776, General Clinton wrote from his headquarters at Fort Montgomery that an "Advanced Guard on the extreme point in view of the battery [is] properly prepared to kindle up a large light fire there." The "extreme point" that is directly in view of the grand battery at Fort Montgomery is Anthony's Nose.  It was apparently a location of one of the series of alarm beacons along the Hudson River.

View from the Grand Battery at Fort Montgomery. Anthony's Nose is obscured by the tree on the left.  There were no trees in 1777.

On the 6th of October, 1777 the commander of the Forts Clinton and Montgomery received an incorrect report that the British had landed on the opposite site of the river near Peekskill and that Fort Independence had fallen.  Fort Independence was a minor fortification located just south of Anthony's Nose, now part of the US Army reservation of Camp Smith.  To defend an attack from that direction Governor George Clinton ordered 60 militia men to Anthony's Nose.

In the Court of Inquiry for the loss of Forts Clinton and Montgomery, Major Jacob Newkirk of the Ulster Second Regiment of Militia under Colonel James McClaughry stated that on the 6th he was ordered to send 50 men to Anthony's Nose to look out.  Jonathan, Levi, and Samuel Campbell (Joel's brothers)  were all in the Second Regiment.  Even though the entire regiment was called out to march to Fort Montgomery, many did not show up or did not show up in time.  If the Campbells did show, could they have been in this detail on Anthony's Nose?

Oliver Humphrey, who was a private in the Second Regiment, stated in his deposition for a pension that he was present at Fort Montgomery on the day of the battle.  His detachment had been ordered by Captain [Abraham] Cuddeback to guard the chain on the other side of the river (Anthony's Nose) "where they remained in sight of the whole action until the fort was taken."  Is this the same detachment ordered out by Major Newkirk?  Major Newkirk ordered the detachment to be a "lookout" while Humphrey understood they were to "guard the chain."  Perhaps they split up and did both?  One group could have climbed to the top of the mountain with a great view up and down the river.  The other group could have stayed close to the anchoring point for the chain and the boom.  Both positions would have given them an interesting view of the battle as it unfolded on land and in the river.

View from Anthony's Nose.  There were no trees in 1777.  Fort Clinton was located at the red pentagon at the western end of the bridge.  The pentagon above it was its outer redoubt manned by others in McClaughry's militia.  It fell after the main fort.  The pentagon on the right, across Popolopen Creek, is Fort Montgomery.  This is the view of Humphrey's detachment.

Humphrey was from New Windsor, while Cuddeback was from Peenpack (Deerpark).  Militia companies were community-based:  the Captain of the company was elected by his troops in the community.  In this case it appears the command structure had been modified based on who showed up to the battle.  With all of the shuffling of personnel it would not be far-fetched to say that there was a possibility that Jonathan, Levi, or Samuel Campbell (Joel's brothers) could have been in this detachment.

From the heights of Anthony's nose they would have heard the cannon fire in the afternoon from Doodletown and from the "Furnace Road" by Popolopen Torne.  With the land denuded of trees they could have actually seen the movement of soldiers until the smoke of black powder obscured the view.  They would have seen the British ships sailing up the river, exchanging firing with the forts.  They would have seen the American frigate Congress sitting above the chain, firing on the British who were flanking Fort Montgomery on the north.  As the sun set they would have seen the redcoats form their columns for a final charge which would carry them over the parapets.  The defenders of the forts fought "until the Enemy were within their walls and upon their backs.  Then everyone made his Escape in the best manner he could."

The detachment on Anthony's Nose gathered together in the dark and marched up to the Continental Ferry near Fishkill where they joined the rest of the survivors of McClaughry's regiment.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

"My own mind is my own church." Thomas Paine

Today is the anniversary of Thomas Paine's birthday, February 9, 1737.  He was born about 2 years after Joel Campbell.

In 1784 he was granted land in compensation for services during the revolutionary war.  The land was in New Rochelle, NY just a few miles from my current home.  His cottage was built around 1800.  Its original structure included only the right half of the home shown below.  It was moved a few hundred feet to this location in the early 1900s.

By the time he died in 1809, his services to the country had been largely forgotten.  In the meantime, he had made a few enemies.  The title of this post may be one of the reasons.  There were only six people at his burial.   Although he specified his wish to be buried in the Quaker cemetery, the Quakers would not allow it.  He was interred very close to the location of the cottage on his own property.  

Paine is probably best remembered for his pamphlet, "American Crisis."  It was written as the winter of 1776 approached and enlistments lapsed or soldiers deserted.  General Washington’s frustration with “part time” soldiers had been acknowledged by Congress who had approved the creation of “regular” regiments by the states.   New York was to have four such regiments.
In November of 1776 the names of the officers of the 4th NY regiment were submitted to Congress for approval of their commissions. The list of officers included the Captain of the 4th company of this 4th regiment, William Jackson, of Hanover.  Andrew Campbell had enlisted in this company for the duration of the war.

On December 19, 1776 the words of Thomas Paine first appeared in print that encouraged many an American to enlist in these “regular” regiments.  “American Crisis,” as the pamphlet was known, was undoubtedly read in the taverns of Hanover, Newburgh, and New Windsor as the Campbells listened with interest.   "THESE are the times that try men's souls. The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of their country; but he that stands by it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman...”

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Sugarloaf Redoubt

Sugarloaf Mountain is a steep hill that rises about 700 ft above the Hudson River close to the current town of Garrison, NY.  During the revolutionary period this was property owned by Beverley Robinson, a southern gentleman who had married a member of the Philipse family.  The Philipses owned large tracts of land on the east side of the Hudson River.

Robinson was one of very few people living in this very remote spot in the Highlands.  When the revolution started he was forced to choose a side.  Like his in-laws he chose the British and was exiled to York Island (New York City).  His forfeited house was used on multiple occasions as the headquarters for George Washington and other generals.  See this post for more on the Robinson House.

Historical Marker on Route 9D
Drawing of Robinson House from George Clinton Public Papers
Sugarloaf Mountain in back of Robinson Home Site

Sugarloaf was also the location of a redoubt in 1780.  It was appropriately called "Sugarloaf Redoubt" and was the most southern of the three redoubts on the east side of the river opposite West Point.  By 1782 it appears to have been abandoned as the former "Middle Redoubt" was now being called the "South Redoubt."

Possible remains of Sugarloaf Redoubt on summit.
Possible remains of Sugarloaf Redoubt on summit.
View to the south from Sugarloaf Mountain.  Bear Mountain bridge in the distance.  Forts Clinton and Montgomery were at western terminus of current bridge.

On the morning of September 25, 1780, General Benedict Arnold was eating his breakfast with his aides at the Robinson House.  They were interrupted by an express rider with an urgent dispatch. The news was a shock to Arnold.  His liaison to the British army, John Andre, had been captured with evidence that incriminated Arnold as a traitor.  His plot was quickly unraveling.  Worse, he expected George Washington and his entourage momentarily.    His face flushed as his heart beat faster.  He ran upstairs and kissed his very young bride (and accomplice) good-bye.  He saddled his horse and galloped down the trail to the Hudson River.

Historical Marker on Route 9D
Trail from Robinson's House down to the stream that runs to the River.  Historical Marker on right.
Stream on left was slightly diverted during railroad construction.  Hudson River on upper right.
Hudson River at the former location of Robinson's Landing.

Monday, February 3, 2014

West Point Fortifications - Redoubts

The militias to which the Campbells belonged, were often called to work on the fortifications at West Point.  Records show that they were typically called on one-week tours of duty.  Occasionally there were three month "levies" of service.  Sometimes they were "exempted" if they were working on other war related efforts in Newburgh such as building the chain or boom, making clothes/tents/arms, or transporting goods as drivers or wagoners.

There were three redoubts on the East side of the river: North, Middle (or South), and Sugarloaf (which appears to have been abandoned before the end of the war).  There is no indication that Campbell ancestors worked on these relatively minor fortifications, but there is a possibility.  More likely the redoubts were built by regulars or Westchester county militia.

Washington had special interest in these redoubts as they were principally his idea in early 1780.  On his return from a conversation with the French generals in Hartford, he decided to take a slight detour to inspect the redoubts.  His entourage probably groaned as they knew a breakfast was awaiting them at the Robinson House.  The Robinson House was the nicest home in the area and West Point commanders had made a practice of making it their headquarters, even though it was a ferry ride across the river from their command.  Washington's companions may have also been looking forward to the company of Peggy Shippen, General Benedict Arnold's very young bride.

The North Redoubt was probably manned be no more that a dozen men.  A simple fortification of dirt, stone, and logs.  It was so far from the river that it may have been used more as a lookout than an offensive position.  Imagine this spot with no trees, for there is no doubt none existed in 1780 as all of them had been cut for fires or fortifications.

Standing on one side of the ruins of North Redoubt looking Northeast.

What remains of this redoubt are only a few mounds of dirt and rocks that show a square outline about 30 feet on each side.  Undoubtedly Washington had a few words of advice for the surprised garrison.

He would have next proceeded to the Middle Redoubt. The map shows a bit more complex fortification than the North Redoubt.

Map on Marquis at Middle Redoubt
Ruins of Middle Redoubt
Remains of fortification C at Middle Redoubt
View of West Point and Constitution Island from Middle Redoubt
In this picture you can see the river flows from Newburgh Bay in the far distance.  It flows in front of "Butter Hill" and the "Crow's Nest" then takes a left turn by "Constitution Island", then turns right around West Point (leaving this picture on the left).  The famous chain was strung across the river from the "Point" to Constitution Island.

The cannon at Middle Redoubt was fired only for celebration, it was never attacked.  On May 31, 1782  the cannon was the last to be discharged in a feu de joie which started on the west side of the river and traveled up to Fort Putnam, over to Constitution Island, to North Redoubt and finally to South Redoubt.  A feu de joie is a sequential firing of guns down a line of soldiers.  In this case, the line was very long!

Washington arrived at the Robinson House just a few hours after Arnold had realized his plot had been uncovered.  He ran upstairs to kiss his wife and new baby, saddled his horse, and galloped down to the Landing.  His barge was waiting.  He deceived the oarsmen to bring him to a British ship that was waiting just a few miles down river.

Would the story have been different if Washington had not visited the redoubts?

The redoubts can be reached by trail from Hwy 11.  There is parking on the north side of the road just west of a bridge over a stream.  The trail starts on the south side of the road directly opposite the entrance to the Hoving Home.

Hiking map to North and Middle (South) Redoubts

Bonus picture!   On the day of my hike, January 26, 2014, the high temperature was about 16F.  The Hudson was ice covered down to the GW Bridge. Two cutters keep a lane open in the middle of the river.  Gasoline and fuel oil are common cargoes.  In the picture below, West Point Military Academy is in the background.  This is taken from about the town of Garrison.  It almost the exact spot where Benedict Arnold made his escape in 1780 after his plot to deliver West Point to the British was uncovered.


The River That Flows Both Ways

This is a short clip of the Hudson River from Sunday, February 2, 2014.  The ice movement makes it easy to see the Hudson River flowing "backwards."  The Iroquois called it Muh-he-kun-ne-tuk, "the river that flows both ways."  This is taken from the spot where Benedict Arnold jumped in an Army barge and defected to the British (September 25, 1780).  I wonder what direction the river was flowing at that moment?