Peekskill was the center of many military events during the War of the Revolution. It was located at the gateway of the Highlands, which guarded the water communication into the heart of New York State, and also formed part of that mountain barrier, extending to the southwest, behind which Washington so skillfully operted his little army. It was a part of Washington’s "Hindenburg Line," but unlike a certain other well known Hindenburg Line, it was never broken. Driven back at times, the Americans always pushed forward again, and the close of the war found the gateway still firmly in their possession.
The main line of resistance was at first directly on the line of the Manitou. Later it was near West Point, but always the outpost line was either of Peekskill or at Verplanck’s Point, a few miles south.
The forts located in the vicinity were:
Fort Lafayette, Verplanck’s (Verplancke’s) Point south of Peekskill on the East bank of the Hudson. British landed 22 Mar 1777 in Lents Cove near Peekskill, attacked Peekskill, encounter near Peekskill Creek. September 1777 British landed a force at Peekskill, burned barracks and stores.
Fort Independence, on Roa (or Rahway) Hook, east bank of the Hudson, oposite the entrance to Camp Smith. All trace of this fort was obiterated by the operations of a sand and gravel company in the early 20’s.
Fort Lookout, between Peekskill and Canopus Creeks, east of Camp Smith. In 1925 a clump of dead trees on the hill were inside the old earthenworks.
Fort Constitution, On an east bank island opposite West Point.
Fort Stony Point, West bank of Hudson accross from Fort Lafayette. Captured by British, starting point of attack 6 October against Forts Clinton and Montgomery. Later recaptured by "Mad Anthony" Wayne.
Forts Clinton and Montgomery, on west bank of Hudson south and north respecfully of the Popoloen Creek, accross from Anthony’s Nose, now directly adjacent to the Bear Mountain Bridge. British forces under Sir Henry Clinton attacked 6 Oct 1777 American forces Commanded by Generals George and James Clinton. The Americans were defeated, a desperate fight between Lake Sinnipink and the river (rear of Bear Mountain Hotel) gave the lake the name "Bloody Pond."
Fort Putnam, at West Point.
Another Fort Clinton at West Point on the Hudson.
Boom and Chain, accross the river at Fort Montgomery to Anthony’s Nose, about where the Bear Mountain Bridge is now. Capture of Forts Clinton and Montgomery 6 Oct 1777 led to the abandonment of the American fleet and the British breaking through on 7 Oct 1777. The British went upriver as far as Kingston, which they burned. At this time a force was advancing from the North under General Burgoyne, to meet with the British fleet. The defeat and surrender of Burgoyne to General Gates in Saratoga on 17 Oct 1777 ended this threat. Recently a Revolutionary War gun emplacement site has been found near the base of Anthony’s Nose where the boom and chain would have been anchored.
The above is only the barest outlines of the interesting history of the vicinity of Camp Smith during the Revolution. Details may be read in Bolton’s or Scharf’s "History of Westchester County," or Washington Irving’s "Life of Washington."
The above information was extracted from articles by LTC William R. Wright in the Feb, Mar, and April 1925 issues of The New York National Guardsman magazine.
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