Search billions of records on







Arnold’s Composure in Presence of his Aids. – Washington’s Return from Hartford. – His Approach to Arnold’s Quarters. – Washington’s Delay in reaching Arnold’s Quarters. – Announcement of Andrè’s Arrest. – Flight of Arnold. – His Wife and Son. – Arnold’s Passage to the Vulture. – Treatment of his Oarsmen. – Washington’s visit to West Point. – Discovery of the Treason. – Washington’s presence of Mind. – Condition of Mrs. Arnold. – Attempts to "head" the Traitor. – His Letters from the Vulture. – Beverly Robinson’s Letter to Washington. – The Army at Tappan put in Motion. – Andrè ordered to West Point. – Buttermilk Falls. – Ride to Fort Montgomery. – Mrs. Rose. – A speculating Daughter. – Sites of Forts Clinton and Montgomery. – Lake Sinnipink. – Beverly Garrison. – Mr. Garrison’s Recollections. – "Captain Molly." – Character of Forts Clinton and Montgomery. – Chevaux de frise. – Condition of the British Forces. – Putnam’s intended Expedition. – Sir Henry Clinton’s Stratagem. – Landing of British Troops. – Governor Clinton informed of the Landing of the British. – A reconnoitering Party. – Skirmish near Doodletown. – Treachery of a Messenger. – Putnam deceived. – Skirmish near Fort Montgomery. – Forts ordered to be Surrendered. – Attack on Forts Clinton and Montgomery. – Flight of the Americans. – Destruction of Vessels and the Chevaux de frise. – Evening Voyage in a Fisherman’s Shallop. – Anthony’s Nose. – Peekskill. – Situation of the Village. – The Birdsall House. – An Octogenarian. – Oak Hill. – Van Cortlandt House. – Philip Van Cortlandt. – The Cortlandt Manor House. – Paulding’s Monument, and St. Peter’s Church. – Gallows Hill. – Execution place of a Spy. – Putnam’s laconic Letter. – View from Gallows Hill. – Relative importance of Peekskill. – Stratagem of Sir William Howe. – Invasion of Peekskill. – Destruction of Stores. – Destruction of Continental Village. – Peekskill possessed by the Americans. – The Soldier’s Spring. – Verplanck’s Point. – Hudson and the Indians. – Fortifications at Verplanck’s Point. – Capture of Fort Fayette. – Surrender of the Garrison. – Disposition of the American Troops on the Hudson. – Preparations for attacking Stony Point. – The Negro Spy. – Condition of Stony Point. – Wayne’s Proposition to Storm it. – Biography of Wayne. – His Monument. – Approach of the Americans to Stony Point. – Capture of Sentinels. – Storming of the Fort. – Wayne wounded. – His Bravery. – Surrender of the Fort. – Wayne’s laconic Dispatch. – Fort Fayette Cannonaded. – Relieved by Sir Henry Clinton. – Galley with Ordnance sunk at Caldwell’s. – Medal awarded to Wayne. – His Popularity. – Medal awarded to Colonel De Fleury. – Promised Rewards for the bravest Men. – Division of the Spoils among the Troops. – Medal awarded to Major Stewart.


"Here onward swept thy waves,

When tones, now silent, mingled with their sound,
And the wide shore was vocal with the song
Of hunter chief or lover’s gentle strain.
Those pass’d away – forgotten as they pass’d;
But holier recollections dwell with thee.
Here hath immortal Freedom built her proud
And solemn monuments. The mighty dust
Of heroes in her cause of glory fallen,
Hath mingled with the soil, and hallow’d it.
Thy waters in their brilliant path have seen
The desperate strife that won a rescued world,
The deeds of men who live in grateful hearts,
And hymn’d their requiem."


With such consummate art had General Arnold managed his scheme of villainy thus far, that not a suspicion of his defection was abroad. He returned to his quarters at the Robinson House, as we have observed, toward evening, and after passing a half hour with his wife and child, and one or two domestics, he conversed freely with his aids-de-camp, Majors Varick 1 and Franks, concerning the important information he was expecting to receive from New York, through a distinguished channel which he had just opened. This was on the 22d [September, 1780.]; the 24th was the day fixed upon for the ascent of the river by the British, and the surrender of West Point into the hands of the enemy. Yet, with all this guilt upon his soul, Arnold was composed, and the day on which his treason was to be consummated, no change was observed in his usual deportment.


Washington returned from Hartford on the 24th, by the upper route, through Dutchess county to Fishkill, and thence along the Highland road by Philipstown. Soon after leaving Fishkill, he met Luzerne, the French minister, with his suite, on his way to visit Rochambeau. That gentleman induced the commander-in-chief to turn back and pass the night with him at Fishkill. Washington and his suite were in the saddle before dawn, for he was anxious to reach Arnold’s quarters by breakfast time, and they had eighteen miles to ride. The men, with the baggage, started earlier, and conveyed a notice to Arnold of Washington’s intention to breakfast with him. When opposite West Point, the commander-in-chief turned his horse down a lane toward the river. La Fayette, perceiving it, said, "General, you are going in a wrong direction you know Mrs. Arnold is waiting breakfast for us, and that road will take us out of the way." Washington answered, good-naturedly, "Ah, I know you young men are all in love with Mrs. Arnold, and wish to get where she is as soon as possible. You may go and take your breakfast with her, and tell her not to wait for me, for I must ride down and examine the redoubts on this side of the river, 2 and will be there in a short time." The officers, however, did not leave him, except two aids-de-camp, who rode on, at the general’s request, to make known the cause of the delay.


Breakfast was waiting when the officers arrived, and as soon as it was ascertained that the commander-in-chief and the other gentlemen would not be there, Arnold, his family, and the aids-de-camp sat down to breakfast. Arnold appeared somewhat moody. The enemy had not appeared according to arrangements, and Washington had returned at least two days sooner than he anticipated. While they were at table, Lieutenant Allen came with a letter for Arnold. The general broke the seal hastily, for he knew by the superscription that it was from Colonel Jameson, stationed at one of the outposts below. The letter was, indeed, from that officer; but, instead of conveying the expected intelligence that the enemy were moving up the river, it informed him that Major Andrè, of the British army, was a prisoner in his custody! 4 Arnold’s presence of mind did not forsake him, and, although agitated, his emotion was not sufficiently manifest to excite the suspicion of those around him. He informed the aids-de-camp that his immediate attendance was required at West Point, and desired them to say to General Washington, when he arrived, that he was unexpectedly called over the river, and would soon return. He ordered a horse to be made ready, and then leaving the table, he went up to Mrs. Arnold’s chamber and sent for her. 5 There was no time to be lost, for another messenger might speedily arrive with evidence of his treason. In brief and hurried words he told her that they must instantly part, perhaps forever, for his life depended on reaching the enemy’s lines without detection. Horror-stricken, the poor young creature, but one year a mother and not two a bride, swooned and sunk senseless upon the floor. Arnold dared not call for assistance, but kissing, with lips blasted by words of guilt and treason, his boy, then sweetly sleeping in angel innocence and purity, 6 he rushed from the room, mounted a horse belonging to one of the aids of Washington, and hastened toward the river, not by the winding road that led to the "Beverly Dock," but along a by-way down a steep hill, which is yet called Arnold’s Path. At the dock he entered his barge, and directed the six oarsmen to push out into the middle of the stream, and pull for Teller’s Point. 7

Arnold’s oarsmen, unconscious of the nature of the general’s errand, had their muscles strengthened by a promise of two gallons of rum, and the barge glided with unusual speed. He told them he was going on board the Vulture with a flag, and was obliged to make all possible haste, as he wished to return in time to meet General Washington at his quarters. When he passed Verplanck’s Point, he displayed a white handkerchief, which, as a signal of amity, answered for both Colonel Livingston at the Point, and Captain Sutherland of the Vulture, which lay in sight a few miles below. They reached the Vulture without interruption, and, after having introduced himself to Captain Sutherland, Arnold sent for the coxswain, and informed him that he and his oarsmen were prisoners. They indignantly asserted their freedom to depart, alleging truly, as they supposed, that they had come on board under the protection of a flag. Arnold coolly replied that they must remain on board. Captain Sutherland would not interfere with Arnold’s commands, but, despising his meanness, he gave the coxswain a parole to go on shore and get such things as he wanted. This was done, and, when the Vulture arrived in New York, Sir Henry Clinton set them all at liberty. In this transaction, the inherent meanness of Arnold’s spirit was conspicuous, and made the British officers regard him with scorn as a reptile unworthy of that esteem which a high-souled traitor – a traitor because of great personal wrongs – might claim.

Washington arrived at Robinson’s house shortly after Arnold had left. Informed that he had gone to West Point, the commander-in-chief took a hasty breakfast, and concluded not to wait, but go directly over and meet Arnold there. Hamilton remained behind, and it was arranged that the general and his suite should return to dinner. While crossing the river in a barge, Washington expressed his expectation that they would be greeted with a salute, as General Arnold was at the Point; but, to his surprise, all was silent when they approached the landing-place. Colonel Lamb, the commanding officer, who came strolling down a winding path, was much confused when he saw the barge touch the shore. He apologized to Washington for the apparent neglect of courtesy, alleging his entire ignorance of his intended visit. The general was surprised, and said, "Sir, is not General Arnold here?" "No, sir," replied Colonel Lamb, "he has not been here these two days, nor have I heard from him within that time." This awakened the suspicions of Washington. He proceeded, however, to inspect the several works at West Point, and at about noon returned to the Beverly Dock, from whence he had departed.

While ascending from the river, Hamilton was seen approaching with hurried step and anxious countenance. He conversed with Washington in a low tone, and returned with him into the house, where he laid several papers, the damning evidence of Arnold’s guilt, before him. These consisted of the documents given in a preceding chapter, which Arnold had placed in Andrè’s hands. They were accompanied by a letter from Colonel Jameson, and one from Andrè himself. Jameson, uninformed of the return of Washington from Hartford, had dispatched a messenger thither, with the papers, to the commander-in-chief. After riding almost to Danbury, the messenger heard of the return of Washington by the upper road, and, hastening back, took the nearest route to West Point through Lower Salem, where Andrè was in custody. He thus became the bearer of Andrè’s letter to Washington. 8 He arrived at the Robinson House four hours after the departure of Arnold, and placed the papers in the hands of Hamilton.

Washington called in Knox and La Fayette for counsel. "Whom can we trust now?" said the chief, with calmness, while the deepest feeling of sorrow was evidently at work in his bosom. The condition of Mrs. Arnold, who was quite frantic with grief and distress in another room, awakened his liveliest sympathies. He believed her innocent of all previous knowledge of her husband’s treasonable designs, and this gave keenness to the pang which her sorrows created. 9 Yet he maintained his self-possession, and calmly said, when dinner was announced, "Come, gentlemen, since Mrs. Arnold is unwell, and the general is absent, let us sit down without ceremony."

As soon as the contents of the papers were made known, Washington dispatched Hamilton on horseback to Verplanck’s Point, that preparations might be made there to stop the traitor. But Arnold had got nearly six hours’ the start of him, the tide was ebbing, and the six strong oarsmen, prompted by expected reward, had pulled with vigor. When Hamilton arrived at the Point, a flag of truce was approaching from the Vulture to that post. The bearer brought a letter from Arnold to Washington, which Hamilton forwarded to the commander-in-chief, and then wrote to General Greene at Tappan, advising him to take precautionary measures to prevent any movement of the enemy in carrying out the traitor’s projects. The failure of the plot was not known to Sir Henry Clinton until the arrival of the Vulture at New York the next morning, and then he had no disposition to venture an attack upon the Americans in the Highlands, now thoroughly awake to the danger that had threatened.

Arnold’s letter to Washington was written to secure protection for his wife and child. "I have no favor to ask for myself," he said; "I have too often experienced the ingratitude of my country to attempt it; but, from the known humanity of your excellency, I am induced to ask your protection for Mrs. Arnold from every insult and injury that a mistaken vengeance of my countrymen may expose her to. It ought to fall only on me. She is as good and innocent as an angel, and is incapable of doing wrong." In this letter Arnold avowed his love for his country, and declared that that sentiment actuated him in his present conduct. "In short," says Sparks, "the malignant spirit, impudence, and blunted moral feeling shown in this letter were consistent with his character. Attachment to his wife was the only redeeming quality which seemed not to be extinguished." 10

Washington also received a letter from Beverly Robinson, dated on board the Vulture, demanding, in mild terms, the release of Andrè, claiming it as equitable, he being on shore with a flag of truce at the request of General Arnold. Robinson attempted to influence the mind of the chief by referring to their former friendship, but the letter had not the least effect upon Washington’s firmness of purpose. He was ignorant of the extent of defection, and his thoughts and efforts were first directed to measures of security. He had a most delicate task to perform. He might suspect the innocent, and give his confidence to the unworthy. He resolved, as the least dangerous course, to confide unreservedly in all his officers, and this resolution, promptly acted upon, had a very salutary effect. 11

Washington sent orders to General Greene, directing him to put the left wing of the army, near Tappan, in motion as soon as possible, and march toward King’s Ferry. It was midnight when the express reached Greene’s quarters; before dawn the whole division was upon the march. The commander-in-chief also dispatched a letter to Colonel Jameson, directing him to send Andrè to Robinson’s house under a strong guard. This messenger also reached his destination at Lower Salem, at midnight. Andrè was aroused, and, although the rain was falling fast, and the night was exceedingly dark, a guard, under Major Tallmadge, set off with the prisoner immediately. They rode all night, and arrived at Robinson’s house at dawn on the 26th [September, 1780]. Andrè was taken over to West Point the same evening, and on the morning of the 28th was conveyed, under a strong escort of cavalry, to Tappan, where he was tried and convicted as a spy. This event will be noticed in connection with the details of his capture.


For the present, my tour leads me to the consideration of other important transactions within cannon-echo of the Sugar Loaf, at whose base we are standing, and up whose steep sides I was desirous of climbing, to view the prospect so glowingly depicted by the pen of Dr. Dwight; 13 but recollecting that the venerable boatman was awaiting my return, I exchanged a hasty adieu with Lieutenant Arden, and hastened back to the Beverly Dock by way of Arnold’s Path. There I found the old waterman quietly fishing, and apparently unconscious that two hours had elapsed since we parted. He locked his oars, and in a few minutes we were at the foot of Buttermilk Falls. I clambered up the steep, rough road under the cliff, to the village, dined at a late hour upon cold mutton and stale bread, and in a light wagon, procured with difficulty for the occasion, set off, with a boy driver, for Fort Montgomery, about four miles below. For half the distance the road (which is the old military one of the Revolution) was smooth; the residue of the way was as rough as rocks and gulleys could make it. On every side huge bowlders, many of them ten feet in diameter, lie scattered over the bare flat rocks, like fruit shaken from a tree in autumn. They become more numerous toward the base of the steep mountain range on the west, where they lie in vast masses, like mighty pebbles rolled up by the waves upon the shore. Here the geologist has a wonderful page spread out for his contemplation.

Within a short distance of Fort Montgomery, we turned up a rough mountain road to visit an old lady named Rebecca Rose, eighty years of age, who lived close by Fort Montgomery at the time it was taken by the enemy. I found her upon a bed of sickness, too feeble then to converse, but at a subsequent visit she was well and communicative. She was a child only seven or eight years old, and has no distinct recollection of events at the taking of the forts, except her care and anxiety in concealing her rag babies in a sap trough, while her parents were hiding their property in the woods. Her father was a tanner and shoemaker, in the employ of the garrison at the two forts. The British tried to frighten him into the performance of the duty of a guide for them, by twice hauling him up to an apple-tree with a halter around his neck. He resolutely defied them, and they passed on. From the cottage of Mrs. Rose, among the hills, is one of the most magnificent views of rock and forest, cliff and river, imaginable; overlooking Forts Montgomery and Clinton, the Race flanked by Anthony’s Nose and the Dunderberg, and the fertile hills of West Chester in the distance.

Near Mrs. Rose lived an old soldier who was wounded at the siege of Fort Montgomery. I found him living with his daughter, a little plump widow of fifty, in a cottage beside a clear stream that comes leaping down from the hills. He was a private in Captain De Vere’s company, Colonel Dubois’s regiment, and was bayoneted in the thigh when the enemy made their way over the ramparts of Fort Montgomery and fought the garrison hand to hand. Although nearly ninety years old, he was vigorous and talked sensibly. I asked the privilege of sketching his portrait, which he readily granted, and I was about unlocking my port-folio for the purpose, when his daughter, resting upon a broom handle, and assuming the shrewd look of a speculator, inquired, "What’ll ye give?" "For what?" I inquired. "For daddy’s likeness," she answered. Unacquainted with the market value of such commodities, and being doubtful as to the present sample possessing much intrinsic worth, I made the indefinite offer of " What is right." "No, no," she said, tuning her voice to a higher key, and beginning to sweep the floor vigorously, "you sha’n’t look at him till you tell me what you’ll give. We’ve been cheated enough a’ready. Two scamps come along here last week, and told my darter they’d make a likeness on her for their breakfasts, and they on’y guv her a nasty piece of black paper, that had a nose no more like sis’s than that tea-pot spout. No, sir; give me a half a dollar, or clear out quick!" The more fortunate silhouettists had evidently ruined my prospects for a gratuitous sitting of the old soldier; and feeling very doubtful whether the demanded half dollar, if paid, would add a mite to his comforts, I respectfully declined giving the price. The filial regard of the dear woman was terribly shocked, and she called me a cheat and other hard names. I shook hands with the old "Continentaler" as I rose to depart, and turning quietly to the dame, who was yet sweeping around the room in a towering passion, invited her to sit for her portrait! This produced a climax; she seized the broom by the brush; I saved my head by closing the door between us. I walked off unscathed and much amused, in the midst of a perfect shower of grape-shot from her tongue-battery, compelled to content myself with a pen and ink sketch of the hornet instead of the one I had asked for.


We descended the hills, and proceeded to the site of Fort Montgomery, a rough promontory on the north side of Peploap’s, or Poplopen’s, Kill. 15 It terminates in a steep cliff at the mouth of the stream, and was an admirable situation for a strong fortress to command the river. Almost the entire line of the fortifications may be traced upon the brow of the cliff, which is rocky, and bare of every thing but stinted grass and dwarf cedars. More than half way down to the water’s edge are the remains of the two-gun-battery which was placed there to cover the chain and chevaux de frise which were stretched across the river from the upper side of Poplopen’s Kill to Anthony’s Nose.

We crossed to the southern side of the stream, and clambered up a winding and romantic pathway among cedars, chestnuts, and sassafras, to the high table land whereon stood Fort Clinton, within rifle shot of Fort Montgomery. A fine mansion, belonging to Mrs. Pell, with cultivated grounds around it, occupy the area within the ravelins of the old fort. The banks of the fortress have been leveled, its fossé filled up, and not a vestige of it remains. About a quarter of a mile west of Mrs. Pell’s is Lake Sinnipink, a small sheet of crystal water, surrounded by the primitive forest, and as wild in its accompaniments as when the Indian cast his bait in its deep waters. From its western rim rises the highest peak of Bear Mountain to an altitude of more than a thousand feet. The lake itself is one hundred and twenty-three feet above the river.


Near the north end of Lake Sinnipink, on the river slope of the hills, stands the cottage of the aged Beverly Garrison, a hale old man of eighty-seven years. He was a stout lad of fourteen when the forts were taken. His father, who worked a great deal for Beverly Robinson, and admired him, named this boy in honor of that gentleman. When the British approached the forts, Beverly and his father, who was wagon-master at Fort Montgomery, were ordered to take a large iron cannon to the outworks on the neck of the promontory. While thus engaged, they were made prisoners; but Beverly, being a boy, was allowed his liberty. He told me that he was standing on the ramparts of Fort Montgomery on the morning when Arnold passed by, in his barge, fleeing to the Vulture, and that he recognized the general, as well as Larvey, his coxswain. He also informed me that a Tory, named Brom Springster, piloted the enemy over the Dunderberg to the forts. Brom afterward became a prisoner to the patriots, but his life was spared on condition that he should pilot Wayne on his expedition over the same rugged hills to attack Stony Point. Mr. Garrison remembered the famous Irish woman called Captain Molly, the wife of a cannonier, who worked a field-piece at the battle of Monmouth, on the death of her husband. She generally dressed in the petticoats of her sex, with an artilleryman’s coat over. She was in Fort Clinton, with her husband, when it was attacked. When the Americans retreated from the fort, as the enemy sealed the ramparts, her husband dropped his match and fled. Molly caught it up, touched of the piece, and then scampered off. It was the last gun fired by the Americans in the fort. Mrs. Rose (just mentioned) remembers her as Dirty Kate, living between Fort Montgomery and Buttermilk Falls, at the close of the war, where she died a horrible death from the effects of a syphilitic disease. I shall have occasion to refer to this bold camp-follower, whom Washington honored with a sergeant’s commission for her bravery on the field of Monmouth, nearly nine months afterward, when reviewing the events of that battle.

Here, by the clear spring which bubbles up near the cottage of the old patriot, and in the shadow of Bear Mountain, behind which the sun is declining, let us glance at the Revolutionary history of this region.

Forts Clinton and Montgomery were included in the Highland fortifications ordered to be constructed in 1775-6. These, like Fort Constitution, were commenced by Bernard Romans, assisted by skillful French engineers, and were finally completed under the superintendence of Captain Thomas Machin. Fort Montgomery was of sufficient size to accommodate eight hundred men; Fort Clinton was only about half as large. They were built of stones and earth, and were completed in the spring of 1776. Pursuant to a recommendation of Romans, made the previous autumn, preparations were made to place obstructions in the river from the mouth of Poplopen’s, or Peploap’s Kill, to Anthony’s Nose, opposite. These obstructions, which were not completed until the autumn of 1777, just before the forts were attacked, consisted of a very {original text has "vrey".} strong boom, and heavy iron chain. 17 The latter, eighteen hundred feet in length, was buoyed up by heavy spars, connected by iron links, and also by large rafts of timber. It was believed that these obstructions, covered by the guns of the fort, and accompanied by several armed vessels, would be sufficient to effectually prevent the enemy from ascending the river. The result, however, was otherwise.

When Burgoyne found himself environed with difficulties at Saratoga, and perceived the rapid augmentation of the American army under Gates, he dispatched messengers to Sir Henry Clinton, then commanding at New York in the absence of General Howe, 18 urging him to make a diversion in his favor, and join him, if possible, with a force sufficient to scatter the half-disciplined provincials. Clinton was eager to comply; but a re-enforcement of troops from Europe, expected for several weeks, was still delayed. This force, amounting to almost two thousand men, under General Robertson, arrived at the beginning of October [1777.]. Having sailed in Dutch bottoms, they were three months on the voyage. The first battle of Stillwater had now been fought, and the second was nigh at hand. Putnam was in the Highlands, with fifteen hundred men; his head-quarters were at Peekskill. Washington had drawn upon Putnam, toward the close of September, for twenty-five hundred troops, to aid in defending Philadelphia and the works on the Delaware, then menaced by the enemy. 19 Their places were supplied by militia of New York and Connecticut; but, apprehending no hostile movement up the Hudson, Putnam had discharged about one thousand of them, leaving his effective force only fifteen hundred strong. Forts Clinton and Montgomery, commanded by the brothers James and George Clinton, were feebly garrisoned; in both fortresses there were not more than six hundred men, chiefly militia from Dutchess and Ulster. There was a fortification near Peekskill, called Fort Independence, which was also feebly garrisoned; in fact, the Highland posts were almost defenseless against a respectable demonstration on the part of the enemy.

On the arrival of re-enforcements, Sir Henry Clinton prepared for an expedition up the Hudson, partly for the purpose of destroying American stores at Peekskill, but chiefly to make a diversion in favor of Burgoyne. On Saturday evening, the 4th of October [1777.], he proceeded up the river in flat boats and transports, with about five thousand men, and landed at Tarrytown, nearly thirty miles from New York. 20 This was a feint to deceive General Putnam into the belief that Peekskill was his destination. To strengthen this belief, and to divert Putnam’s attention from the Highland forts, Clinton proceeded on Sunday, with three thousand troops, to Verplanck’s Point, eight miles below Peekskill, where he debarked. General Putnam fell back, on his approach, to the high ground in the rear of Peekskill, and sent a messenger to Governor Clinton, desiring him to send to his aid as many troops as he could spare from the forts. The militia in the vicinity rallied around Putnam, and he had about two thousand men, on the afternoon of the 5th, to dispute the progress of the enemy up the Hudson, either by land or water. Sir Henry Clinton perceived that his stratagem was successful, and the next morning, under cover of a fog, he passed two thousand of his troops over to Stony Point, whence they made their way among the tangled defiles and lofty crags of the Dunderberg to Forts Clinton and Montgomery, twelve miles distant. The transports were anchored near Stony Point, and the corps of Loyalists, under Colonels Bayard and Fanning, remained at Verplanck’s Point. A detachment was left near Stony Point, to guard the pass and preserve a communication with the fleet. Three frigates, the Tartar, Preston, and Mercury, proceeded up the river to a position between what is now known as Caldwell’s Landing and Fort Independence, and within cannon-shot of the latter.


Governor Clinton received advices on Sunday night of the arrival of the enemy’s ships and transports at Tarrytown, and, on Monday morning, a scouting party of one hundred men under Major Logan, which he had sent to the Dunderberg to watch the motions of the enemy, returned with information that about forty boats, filled with troops, had landed near Stony Point. Another party of thirty men was sent out upon the mountain road leading from Fort Clinton to Haverstraw; and at a place called Doodletown, three miles south from the fort, they fell in with the advanced guard of the approaching British. The Americans were ordered to surrender, but refused, when the enemy fired upon them. They returned the fire with spirit, and retreated to the fort without losing a man. The design of the enemy was now apparent. It was past noon, and no intelligence had been received from Putnam. Clinton had dispatched a messenger to that officer, requesting him to send him a strong re-enforcement to defend the forts. The messenger, whose name was Waterbury, treacherously delayed his journey, and the next day deserted to the enemy. In the mean while, Putnam, astonished at hearing nothing further from the enemy, rode to reconnoiter, and did not return to his head-quarters, near Continental Village, until after the firing was heard on the other side of the river. Colonel Humphreys, who was alone at head-quarters when the firing began, urged Colonel Wyllys, the senior officer in camp, to send all the men not on duty to Fort Montgomery. 22 He immediately complied, but it was too late. It was twilight before they reached the river, and the enemy had then accomplished their purpose.

The British army, piloted by a Tory, traversed the Dunderberg in a single column, and at its northern base separated into two divisions. One division, under Lieutenant-colonel Campbell, consisting of nine hundred men, was destined for the attack on Fort Montgomery; the other, under the immediate command of Sir Henry Clinton, and consisting of an equal number, was to storm Fort Clinton. There was a large body of Hessians in each division. Governor Clinton, on hearing of the attack upon his scouts near Doodletown, sent out a detachment of more than one hundred men, under Colonels Bruyn and M‘Claghrey, 23 with a brass field-piece and sixty men, to an advantageous post on the road to Orange furnace. As the enemy approached, another detachment of one hundred men was sent to the same point, but they were pressed back by the bayonets of a superior force, and retreated to a twelve-pounder in the rear, leaving their guns (which they spiked) in possession of the assailants. With the second cannon they did great execution, until it bursted, when they retreated to Fort Montgomery, followed by Emerick’s corps of chasseurs, a corps of Loyalists and New York volunteers, and the fifty-second and fifty-seventh British regiments, under Campbell. The pursued kept up a galling fire with small-arms while on their retreat, and slew many of the enemy.

Sir Henry Clinton, in the mean while, made his way toward Fort Clinton with much difficulty, for upon a narrow pass between the Sinnipink Lake at the foot of Bear Mountain and the high river bank was a strong abatis. 24 This was overcome after much hard fighting, and at about four o’clock both forts were invested by the enemy. Sir Henry Clinton sent a flag, with a summons for both garrisons to surrender prisoners of war within five minutes, or they would all be put to the sword. Lieutenant-colonel Livingston was sent by Governor Clinton to receive the flag, and to inform the enemy that the Americans were determined to defend the forts to the last extremity. The action was immediately renewed with great vigor on both sides. The British vessels under Commodore (afterward Admiral) Hotham approached within cannon shot of the forts, and opened a desultory fire upon them, and on some American vessels lying above the chevaux de frise. 25 At the same time, Count Grabowski, a brave Pole, and Lord Rawdon, led the grenadiers to the charge on Fort Montgomery. The battle continued until twilight, when the superior number of the assailants obliged the patriots at both forts to give way, and attempt a scattered retreat or escape. It was a cloudy evening, and the darkness came on suddenly. This favored the Americans in their flight, and a large proportion of those who escaped the slaughter of the battle made their way to the neighboring mountains in safety. The brothers who commanded the forts escaped. General James Clinton was severely wounded in the thigh by a bayonet, but escaped to the mountains, and reached his residence in Orange county, sixteen miles distant, the next day, where he was joined by his brother George, and about two hundred of the survivors of the battle. Lieutenant-colonels Livingston, Bruyn, and Claghery, and Majors Hamilton and Logan, were made prisoners. The loss of the Americans in killed, wounded, and prisoners, was about three hundred; that of the British about one hundred and forty in killed and wounded, among whom were Colonel Campbell and Count Grabowski. 26

Above the boom the Americans had two frigates, two galleys, and an armed sloop. On the fall of the forts, the crews of these vessels spread their sails, and, slipping their cables, attempted to escape up the river, but the wind was adverse, and they were obliged to abandon them. They set them on fire when they left, to prevent their falling into the hands of the enemy. "The flames suddenly broke forth, and, as every sail was set, the vessels soon became magnificent pyramids of fire. The reflection on the steep face of the opposite mountain, and the long train of ruddy light which shone upon the water for a prodigious distance, had a wonderful effect; while the ear was awfully filled with the continued echoes from the rocky shores, as the flames gradually reached the loaded cannons. The whole was sublimely terminated by the explosions, which left all again in darkness." 27 Early in the morning [October 7, 1777.], the obstructions in the river, which had cost the Americans a quarter of a million of dollars, Continental money, were destroyed by the British fleet. Fort Constitution, opposite West Point, was abandoned, and the enemy had a clear passage up the Hudson.

Vaughan and Wallace sailed up the river upon their marauding expedition, and, as we have before noticed, burned Kingston, or Esopus. It was deemed too late to assist Burgoyne by a junction with him, for on that very day the second battle of Stillwater, so disastrous to that commander, was fought; ten days afterward he and his whole army were captives. Yet the fall of the Highland forts was a serious blow to the Americans, for quite a large quantity of ordnance and ammunition was collected there. 28

It was almost sunset when I left the ruins of Fort Montgomery to seek for a waterman to carry me to Peekskill, on the east side of the river, four miles distant. The regular ferryman was absent on duty, and after considerable search, I procured, with difficulty, the services of a fisherman to bear me to the distant village. We embarked at twilight – a glorious Indian summer twilight – the river as calm as a lake of the valley.

"The Dunderberg sat silently beneath
The snowy clouds, that form’d a vapory wreath

Above its peak. The Hudson swept along
Its mighty waters – oh! had I a pen
Endued with master gifts and genius, then
Might I aspire to tell its praise in song."

The boat was a scaly affair, and the piscatory odor was not very agreeable; nevertheless, I had no alternative, and, turning my eyes and nose toward the glowing heavens, I tried to imagine myself in a rose-scented caique in the Golden Horn. I had half succeeded, when three or four loud explosions, that shook the broad mountains and awoke an hundred echoes, broke the charm, and notified me that I was in a fisherman’s shallop, and a little too near for safety to St. Anthony’s Nose, 29 where the constructors of the Hudson River rail-road, then working day and night, were blasting an orifice through that nasal feature of the Highlands. We sheered off toward the Dunderberg, and, shooting across Peekskill Bay, with the tide flowing strongly down its eastern rim, I landed in time for a warm supper at the "Atlantic."

Early on the morning of the 27th [October, 1848.] I made the sketch from Peekskill landing printed on page 734 {original text has "166".}, and then walked up to the village on the slopes and hills, by a steep winding way that overlooks a deep ravine, wherein several iron founderies are nestled. The town is romantically situated among the hills, and from some of its more prominent points of view there are magnificent prospects of the river and Highland scenery in the vicinity. Here, spreading out south and east for miles around, was the ancient manor of Cortlandt, 30 stretching along and far above the whole eastern shore of Haverstraw Bay, and extending back to the Connecticut line. The manor house, near the mouth of the Croton River, is yet standing. Within Peekskill village, opposite the West Chester County Bank, is the old Birdsall residence, a part of which, as seen in the picture upon the next page, is a grocery store. This building was erected by Daniel Birdsall, one of the founders of the village. His store was the first one erected there. 31 The owner and occupant, when I visited it, was a son of the first owner, and was then eighty years of age. His lady, many years his junior, kindly showed me the different apartments made memorable by the presence and occupancy of distinguished men in the Revolution. It was occupied by Washington when the head-quarters of the army were there; and the rooms are pointed out which were used by the chief and La Fayette as sleeping apartments. Chairs, a table, and an old clock which has told the hours for more than eighty years, are still there; and in the parlor where Whitefield once preached, I sat and sketched one of the pieces of this venerable furniture. This old mansion, projecting into and marring the regularity of the street, is an eyesore to the villagers, and when the present owner shall depart, no doubt this relic will be removed by the desecrating hand of improvement.


On leaving the Birdsall House, I proceeded to visit another octogenarian named Sparks, whose boyhood and long life have been passed in Peekskill. I found him sitting in the sun, upon his stoop, reading a newspaper without glasses, and his little grandson, a fair-haired child, playing at his feet. For an hour I sat and listened to his tales of the olden times, and of scenes his eyes had witnessed. He had often seen Washington and his suite at the Birdsall House, and well remembers Putnam, Heath, M‘Dougall, and other officers whose quarters were at Peekskill. He never became a soldier, and saw only one battle during the war. That occurred near the Van Cortlandt House, two miles east of Peekskill, between some American pickets at the foot of Gallows Hill, and a picket guard of the enemy at the base of the eminences opposite. They were too near each other to keep quiet, and a skirmish at length ensued. "They made a great smoke and noise," said Mr. Sparks, "but nobody was hurt except by fright." Pointing to a huge oak standing near the Peekskill Academy on Oak Hill, and in full view of our resting-place, he related the circumstance of the execution of a British spy, named Daniel Strang, upon that tree. He was a Tory, and was found lurking about the American army at Peekskill with enlisting orders sewed up in his clothes. I left the vigorous old man to enjoy the warm sunlight and his newspaper alone, and procuring a conveyance, rode out to Van Cortlandt’s house; the church-yard, where rest the remains of one of Andrè’s captors; Gallows Hill, famous as the camping-ground of Putnam for a short period during the Revolution, and to Continental Village, the scene of one of Tryon’s marauding expeditions.

Van Cortlandt’s house is situated in the midst of one of the fine estates of that family. 32 It is a brick mansion, and was erected in 1773. It stands in the center of a pleasant lawn, shaded by locust trees, on the north side of the post-road. It was occupied by Washington, for a brief space, as head-quarters; and there the Van Cortlandt family resided in safety, while desolation was rife around them. When I visited the mansion [October, 1848.], General Pierre Van Cortlandt, the late owner (brother of General Philip Van Cortlandt, of the manor house), had been dead but a few months. Many of the family portraits were yet there, some of them more than one hundred years old. They have since been removed to the old manor house at Croton. The mansion which we are considering was occupied for a while by General M‘Dougall’s advanced guard, when the British took possession of Peekskill in March, 1777, an event that will be noticed presently. The old oak tree is standing in a field a little eastward of the house, which was used for the purpose of a military whipping-post during the encampment there. It is green and vigorous, and so regular are its branches, that, when in full foliage, its form, above the trunk, is a perfect sphere.


Upon a knoll, a little eastward of Van Cortlandt’s house, is an ancient wooden church, erected in 1767 for worship, according to the rituals of the Church of England. Within its grave-yard, which spreads over the knoll westward, is the monument erected to the memory of John Paulding, one of the captors of Andrè, by the corporation of the city of New York. The monument is constructed of West Chester marble, in the most simple form, consisting of a pedestal surmounted by a cone. It is massive, and so constructed as to last for ages. The base of the pedestal covers a square of seven feet, and is surrounded by a strong iron railing. The height is about thirteen feet. One side of the monument exhibits a representation, in low relief, of the face of the medal voted by Congress to each of the captors of Andrè; the other side exhibits the reverse of the medal. The main inscription is upon the western panel of the pedestal. 34

From the old church-yard I rode to the summit of Gallows Hill, a lofty ridge on the north, and bared of trees by the hand of cultivation. It is famous as a portion of the camp-ground of the division of the American army under Putnam in 1777, and also as the place where a spy was executed, from which circumstance the hill derives its name. Leaving my vehicle at the gate of a farm-house by the road side, I crossed the fields to the place designated by tradition as the spot where the old chestnut-tree stood, near which the spy was hanged. It is about one hundred rods west of the road, on the southeastern slope of the hill, and is marked by a huge bowlder lying upon the surface, by the side of which is the decayed trunk of a chestnut, as seen in the picture, 35 said to be a sprout of the memorable tree. The name of the spy was Edmund Palmer. He was an athletic young man, connected by nature and affection with some of the most respectable families in West Chester, and had a wife and children. He was arrested on suspicion, and enlisting papers, signed by Governor Tryon, were found upon his person. It was also ascertained that he was a lieutenant in a Tory company. These and other unfavorable circumstances made it clear that he was a spy, and on that charge he was tried, found guilty, and condemned to be hung. His young wife pleaded for his life, but the dictates of the stern policy of war made Putnam inexorable. Sir Henry Clinton sent a flag to the American commander, claiming Palmer as a British officer, and menacing the Republicans with his severest wrath if he was not delivered up. Putnam’s sense of duty was as deaf to the menaces of the one as to the tears of the other, and he sent to Clinton the following laconic reply:


"Head-quarters, 7th August, 1777.

"SIR, – Edmund Palmer, an officer in the enemy’s service, was taken as a spy, lurking within our lines. He has been tried as a spy, condemned as a spy, and shall be executed as a spy; and the flag is ordered to depart immediately.


"P.S. – He has been accordingly executed."


From the top of Gallows Hill there is a glorious prospect of the surrounding country, particularly southward, in which direction the eye takes in glimpses of Peekskill village, the river and its rocky shores on the west, and the fertile estates of West Chester as far as the high grounds of Tarrytown. On the southeast of the ridge is the beautiful undulating Peekskill Hollow, and on the north, between it and the rough turrets of the Highland towers, is scooped the Canopus Valley, deep and rich, wherein is nestled Continental Village, the scene of one of Tryon’s desolating expeditions. We are upon historic ground; let us open the chronicle for a few moments.

In view of the relative position of the belligerent armies at the opening of 1777, Peekskill was regarded by the commander-in-chief as a very important post. Believing that the chief design of the next campaign would be, on the part of the enemy, to accomplish a junction of the forces under Sir William Howe at New York and an army preparing in Canada for invasion, Washington wrote, in a letter to General Schuyler [March 12, 1777.], as follows: "Under these considerations, I can not help thinking much too large a part of our force is directed to Ticonderoga. Peekskill appears to me a much more proper place, where, if the troops are drawn together, they will be advantageously situated to give support to any of the Eastern or Middle States. Should the enemy’s design be to penetrate the country up the North River, they will be well posted to oppose them; should they attempt to penetrate into New England, they will be well stationed to cover it; if they move westward, the Eastern and Southern troops can easily form a junction; and besides, it will oblige the enemy to have a much stronger garrison at New York." 36 With these views, the commander-in-chief determined to collect a respectable force at Peekskill. This was done as speedily as possible, and General Heath, of Massachusetts, was placed in command. This officer was obliged to return to his state, and the command devolved upon General M‘Dougall. 37 Cattle and military stores, in large quantities, were collected at Peekskill and in the vicinity; and the post, not being very strongly manned, attracted the attention of the enemy. Sir William Howe projected a scheme to capture or destroy them. Stratagem was a part of his plan. He caused a conversation on the subject to be held in the hearing of an American officer who had been captured at Fort Washington, in which it was arranged that an excursion was to be made into the country by three divisions: one to go up the Sound and land at Mamaroneck, another to march up the center road by Kingsbridge, and a third to go up the Hudson and land at Tarrytown. The officer was soon afterward released, and escorted with a flag to the American lines. The object was to have him report the conversation, and thus draw off General M‘Dougall’s attention from the real point of attack. M‘Dougall had only two hundred and fifty effective men, too few to attempt opposition. He immediately commenced sending his stores to Forts Clinton and Montgomery for safety, but before he had accomplished his design, ten sail of British vessels appeared off Tarrytown, and two went up to Haverstraw Bay, at a point twelve miles below Peekskill [March 22, 1777.]. The next day the whole fleet anchored in Peekskill Bay; and at one o’clock, five hundred men, in eight flat-boats, under the command of Colonel Bird, landed at Lent’s Cove, on the south side of the bay. They had four pieces of light artillery, drawn by the sailors. General M‘Dougall retreated to Gallows Hill and vicinity, giving directions for destroying such stores as could not be removed. At the same time, he sent a dispatch to Lieutenant-colonel Willett, at Fort Constitution, to leave a subaltern’s command there, and hasten to his assistance. The British held possession of the town until next day [March 24.], when a detachment advanced toward the Highlands. These were attacked by Colonel Willett, and a smart skirmish ensued. The detachment retreated back to the main body of the enemy, and in the evening, favored by the light of the moon, they all embarked and sailed down the river. Their object, the destruction of the stores, was partially accomplished, but not by their own hands. They had nine of their number killed in the skirmish with Willett, and four at the verge of the creek, while attempting to burn some boats. The Americans had one man killed by a cannon shot. 38 Two or three houses were burned, and about forty sheep, furnished by the Tories, were carried off.

Near the banks of Canopus Creek, and overlooked by Gallows Hill, is Continental Village. It is about three miles from Peekskill, at the main entrance to the Highland passes northward. There, in 1777, were constructed barracks sufficient to accommodate two thousand men. A large number of cattle, and a great quantity of military stores under the charge of Major Campbell, were collected there. Two small redoubts were erected on the high ground, for the double purpose of protecting the public property and guarding the mountain road. Hither, on the morning of the 9th of October [1777.], three days after the capture of Forts Clinton and Montgomery, General Tryon was detached with Emerick’s chasseurs and other Germans, with a three-pounder, to destroy the settlement. He accomplished the object most effectually. The barracks, and nearly every house in the little village, together with the public stores, were consumed, and many of the cattle were slaughtered. The inhabitants fled to the hills, while the few troops that were left when Putnam and the main force retired to Fishkill on the fall of the mountain fortresses, were compelled to fly for safety. In a few hours the smiling little valley was a scene of utter desolation. 39

General Parsons 40 marched down from Fishkill with two thousand men a few days afterward, and took possession of Peekskill. From that time it was the scene of no stirring military events, other than those incident to the brief encampment of regiments or divisions of the American army.

After sketching the only prominent object on the site of poor Palmer’s gallows, I resumed the reins, and, when part way down the northern slope of the ridge, turned up a green lane near the Soldier’s Spring 41 to the farm-house of Mr. Lent, to inquire for an aged couple of that name. Informed that they lived at a little village called Oregon, a mile and a half distant, I returned to Peekskill Hollow, and proceeded thither. My journey was fruitless of information. They were, indeed, a venerable pair; one aged eighty-four, and the other eighty-three years.

After dinner at Peekskill, I rode down to Verplanck’s Point, eight miles below. 42 It was a lovely afternoon [October 27, 1848.]; a fine road amid ever-varying scenery, and every rock, and knoll, and estuary of the river clustered over with historic associations, made the journey of an hour one of great pleasure and interest. Verplanck’s Point is the termination of a peninsula of gently rolling land, gradually ascending from the neck toward the shore, where it ends in a bluff, from thirty to fifty feet high. Here, during the memorable season of land and town speculation, when the water-lot mania emulated that of the tulip and the South Sea games, a large village was mapped out, and one or two fine mansions were erected. The bubble burst, and many fertile acres there, where corn and potatoes once yielded a profit to the cultivator, are scarred and made barren by intersecting streets, not depopulated, but unpopulated, save by the beetle and grasshopper. On the brow of the Point, near the western extremity, and overlooking the water, a small fortification, called Fort Fayette, was erected. It was an eligible site for a fort; and, in connection with the fortress on the rocky promontory opposite, was capable of being made a formidable defense at this, the lower gate of the Hudson Highlands. These two promontories make the river quite narrow, and, if well fortified, might defy the passage of any number of hostile vessels. The site of Fort Fayette is distinctly traceable in the orchard upon the high grounds in the rear of Mr. Bleakly’s store upon the wharf. The mounds and fossé of the main fort, as it was enlarged and strengthened by the British, and also the embankments of the smaller out-works, are quite prominent in many places.

This map shows the relative position of Verplanck’s and Stony Points, and of the forts in the time of the Revolution. A represents the position and form of the fort on Stony Point; B, General Wayne’s right column, and C his left column, when he stormed the ramparts and fort; and D shows the site of Fort Fayette, on the east side of the river.

The small forts at Verplanck’s and Stony Points were captured by the enemy commanded by Sir Henry Clinton in person, on the 1st of June, 1779. The garrison of Stony Point consisted of only about forty men, and that at Verplanck’s of seventy men, commanded by Captain Armstrong. As these forts secured a free communication between the troops of New England and those of the central and southern portions of the confederacy, Clinton determined to dislodge the Americans therefrom. Accordingly, on the 30th of May, he sailed up the river with a strong force, accompanied by General Vaughan; the flotilla was commanded by Admiral Collier. They landed in two divisions on the morning of the 31st [May, 1779.], the one under Vaughan, on the east side, eight miles below Verplanck’s, and the other under Clinton, on the west side, a little above Haverstraw. The garrison at Stony Point retired to the Highlands on the approach of the enemy, and the fort changed masters without bloodshed. The next morning, the guns of the captured fortress, and the cannons and mortars dragged up during the night, were pointed toward Fort Fayette opposite, and a heavy cannonade was opened upon it. Unable to make a respectable resistance to this assault, and attacked in the rear by Vaughan’s division, the little garrison surrendered themselves prisoners of war. 43 The loss of these forts was greatly lamented by Washington, and his first care was to make an effort to recover them, for West Point was now in danger. The main body of the American army was moved from Middlebrook toward the Highlands, and Washington established his quarters at Smith’s Clove, far in the rear of Haverstraw. 44 Sir Henry Clinton gave orders for the immediate strengthening of the forts, and to guard the detachments left for the purpose, he descended the river with his army only as far as Phillipsburgh, now Yonkers.


On the 23d of June, Washington established his headquarters at New Windsor leaving General Putnam in command of the main army at Smith’s Clove. General M‘Dougall was transferred to the command at West Point; the garrisons at Constitution Island, and at the redoubts opposite West Point, were strengthened; the road to Fishkill was well guarded, and three brigades were placed under the command of General Heath, who had lately been ordered from Boston. On the 1st of July, General Wayne was appointed to the command of the light infantry of the line, and was stationed in the vicinity of the Dunderberg, between Fort Montgomery and the main army at the Clove. The British had now greatly enlarged and strengthened the two forts in question, well supplied them with ammunition and stores, and had them strongly garrisoned. The force at Stony Point consisted of the seventeenth regiment of foot, the grenadier companies of the seventy-first, and some artillery; the whole under the command of Lieutenant-colonel Johnson of the seventh. The garrison at Verplanck’s was commanded by Lieutenant-colonel Webster, and was quite equal in force to that at Stony Point. Several small British vessels of war were anchored in the bay within close cannon shot of the forts. Such was the situation of the two armies, when the attack of the Americans under Wayne and Howe upon Stony Point and Verplanck’s Point was planned and executed by order of Washington.

On the morning of the 15th of July [1779.], all the Massachusetts light infantry were marched to the quarters of Wayne at Sandy Beach, fourteen miles from Stony Point. At meridian on that exceedingly sultry day, the whole body moved through narrow defiles, over rough crags, and across deep morasses, in single file, and at eight in the evening rendezvoused a mile and a half below Stony Point. There they remained until General Wayne and several officers returned from reconnoitering the works of the enemy, when they were formed into column, and moved silently forward under the guidance of a negro slave belonging to a Captain Lamb who resided in the neighborhood. 46

The position of the fortress was such that it seemed almost impregnable. Situated upon a huge rocky bluff, an island at high water, and always inaccessible dry-shod, except across a narrow causeway in the rear, it was strongly defended by outworks and a double row of abatis. Upon three sides of the rock were the waters of the Hudson, and on the fourth was a morass, deep and dangerous. But Wayne 47 was not easily deterred by obstacles; and tradition avers, that while conversing with Washington on the subject of this expedition, he remarked, with emphasis, "General, I’ll storm hell if you will only plan it." He possessed the true fire of the flint, and was always governed by the maxim, "Where there’s a will there’s a way." He resolved to storm the fort at all hazards, and only waited for the ebbing of the tide, and the deep first slumber of the garrison, to move toward the fortress.


It was half past eleven o’clock at night when the Americans commenced their silent march toward the fort. All the dogs in the neighborhood had been killed the day before, that their barking might not give notice of strangers near. The negro, with two strong men disguised as farmers, advanced alone. The countersign was given to the first sentinel, on the high ground west of the morass, and while he was conversing with Pompey, the men seized and gagged him. The silence of the sentinel at the causeway was secured in the same manner, and as soon as the tide ebbed sufficiently, the whole of Wayne’s little army, except a detachment of three hundred men under General Muhlenburg, who remained in the rear as a reserve, crossed the morass to the foot of the western declivity of the promontory, unobserved by the enemy. The troops were now divided into two columns; the van of the right, consisting of one hundred and fifty volunteers, under Lieutenant-colonel De Fleury, and that of the left, of one hundred volunteers, under Major Stewart, each with unloaded muskets and fixed bayonets. An avant-guard of twenty picked men for each company, under Lieutenants Gibbon and Knox, preceded them, to remove the abatis and other obstructions. These vans composed the forlorn hope on that memorable night.

At a little past midnight the advanced parties moved silently to the charge, one company on the southern, and the other toward the northern portion of the height. They were followed by the two main divisions; the right, composed of the regiments of Febiger and Meigs, being led by General Wayne in person. The left was composed of Colonel Butler’s regiment, and two companies under Major Murfey. The Americans were undiscovered until within pistol shot of the pickets upon the heights, when a skirmish ensued between the sentinels and the advanced guards. The pickets fired several shots, but the Americans, true to orders, relied entirely upon the bayonet, and pressed forward with vigor. The garrison was aroused from their slumbers, and instantly the deep silence of the night was broken by the roll of the drum, the loud cry To arms! to arms! the rattle of musketry from the ramparts and behind the abatis, and the roar of cannon, charged with the deadly grape-shot, from the embrasures. 49 In the face of this terrible storm, the Americans forced their way, at the point of the bayonet, through every obstacle, until the van of each column met in the center of the works, where each arrived at the same time. 50 At the inner abatis, Wayne was struck upon the head by a musket ball, which brought him upon his knees. His two brave aids, Fishbow and Archer, raised him to his feet, and carried him gallantly through the works. Believing himself mortally wounded, the general exclaimed, as he arose, "March on! carry me into the fort, for I will die at the head of my column!" But the wound was not very severe, and he was able to join in the loud huzzas that arose when the two columns met as victors within the fort. Colonel De Fleury first entered the works, and struck the British standard with his own hands. The garrison surrendered at discretion as prisoners of war, and that brilliant achievement was rendered the more glorious for the clemency which the victors exercised toward the vanquished. Not a life was taken after the flag was struck and the garrison had pleaded for quarters. Wayne had but fifteen killed and eighty-three wounded; the British had sixty-three killed; 51 and Johnson, the commander, with five hundred and forty-three officers and men, were made prisoners. The ships of the enemy lying in the river in front of Stony Point slipped their cables and moved down to a place of security. Before daylight, Wayne sent to the commander-in-chief the brief but comprehensive reply, of which a fac simile is here given:

At dawn the next morning the cannons of the captured fort were turned upon the enemy’s works at Verplanck’s Point under Colonel Webster, and a desultory bombardment was kept up during the day. Major-general Robert Howe had been sent to attack Fort Fayette, but on account of delays, and some misconceptions of Washington’s orders, he did not make the attack in time to dislodge the garrison. News of Webster’s critical situation and the capture of Stony Point was speedily communicated to Sir Henry Clinton, and he immediately sent relief to the menaced garrison at Verplanck’s. Howe withdrew, and the enterprise was abandoned.

Washington, clearly perceiving the danger of attempting to retain the post at Stony Point with so few troops as could be employed in the service, concluded to order an evacuation, and a destruction of the works after the ordnance and stores should be removed. This was accordingly done on the night of the eighteenth [July, 1779.]. All that was originally intended was accomplished, namely, the destruction of the works and the seizure of the artillery and stores. A large portion of the heavy ordnance was placed upon a galley to be conveyed to West Point. As soon as the vessel moved, a cannonade from Verplanck’s and the British shipping was commenced upon it. A heavy shot from the Vulture struck it below water-mark, and the galley went down at the point just above Caldwell’s Landing, where speculation recently made credulity seek for treasures in a sunken vessel alleged to have belonged to the famous Captain Kidd. If, as asserted, a cannon was drawn up from a vessel lying at the bottom of the river there, it was doubtless one of the pieces taken from Stony Point, and the "ship’s timbers" there discovered are the remains of the old galley. The "treasures," if secured, would be of little worth in these "piping times of peace."

The British repossessed themselves of Stony Point on the 20th, but they had little of value left them but the eligible site for a fortification.


The storming and capture of Stony Point, regarded as an exhibition of skill and indomitable courage, was one of the most brilliant events of the war. General Wayne, the leader of the enterprise, was every where greeted with rapturous applause. 53 Congress testified their grateful sense of his services by a vote of thanks "for his brave, prudent, and soldierly conduct." It was also resolved that a medal of gold, emblematical of this action, should be struck, and presented to General Wayne.


Thanks were also presented by Congress to Lieutenant-colonel De Fleury 55 and Major Stewart, and a medal of silver was ordered to be struck and presented to each. The conduct of Lieutenants Gibbon and Knox was warmly applauded, and brevets of captain was given to each, and to Mr. Archer, the volunteer aid of Wayne, who was the bearer of the general’s letter to Washington on the occasion. Pursuant to the recommendation of the commander-in-chief, and in fulfillment of promises made by Wayne before the assault, with the concurrence of Washington, Congress resolved, "That the value of the military stores taken at Stony Point be ascertained and divided among the gallant troops by whom it was reduced, in such manner and proportions as the commander-in-chief shall prescribe." 56




1 Richard Varick, who, before the close of the war, was promoted to colonel, was a sterling patriot. He admired Arnold as a soldier; and when that officer’s defection became known, Varick was almost insane for a day or two, so utterly contrary to the whole life of Arnold appeared the fact. Varick became one of Washington’s military family near the close of the war, as his recording secretary. He was mayor of the city of New York from 1791 to 1801. On the death of John Jay, he was elected president of the American Bible Society, which office he held until his death, which occurred at Jersey City, July 30th, 1831, at the age of seventy-nine years.

2 These redoubts were upon the point, near the rail-way tunnel above Garrison’s Landing.

3 This is a view of the room in the Robinson House in which Arnold was at breakfast when he received Colonel Jameson’s letter announcing the arrest of Andrè. It is preserved in its original style, which is quite antique. The ceiling is low; the heavy beams are bare; the fire-place surrounded with neat panel-work, without a mantel-shelf. The door on the right opens into a small room which Arnold used as an office; the windows on the left open upon the garden and lawn on the south, from whence I made the sketch of the house printed on page 708.

4 This letter was written on the 23d, two days before. The circumstances of the arrest of Andrè are detailed on page 752 to 758 inclusive.

5 This chamber is also preserved in its original character. Even the panel-work over the fire-place has been left unpainted since the Revolution, in order to preserve some inscriptions made upon it with a knife. There is carved in bold letters, "G. WALLIS, Lieut. VI. Mass. Reg’t."

6 This was the only child of Arnold by his second wife, born in the United States. His name was James Robertson. He entered the British army, and rose to the rank of colonel of engineers. He was stationed at Bermuda from 1816 to 1818, and from the last-named year until 1823 was at Halifax, and the commanding officer of engineers in Nova Scotia and New Brunswick. While thus in command, he was at St. John’s, and, on going into the house built by his father, in King Street (which is still standing), wept like a child. His wife was a Miss Goodrich, of the Isle of Wight. He is a small man, his eyes of remarkable sharpness, and in features bears a striking resemblance to his father. A gentleman who has been in service with him, and is intimately acquainted with him, speaks of him in terms of high commendation, and relates that he expressed a desire to visit the United States. Since the accession of Queen Victoria, he has been one of her majesty’s aids-de-camp. In 1841, he was transferred from the engineer’s corps, and is now (1846) a major general, and a knight of the royal Hanoverian Guelphic order. – See Sabine’s Biographical Sketches of American Loyalists.

7 The coxswain on the occasion was James Larvey. The aged Beverly Garrison, whom I saw at Fort Montgomery, knew him well. He said Larvey always declared that, had he been aware of Arnold’s intention, he would have steered to Verplanck’s Point, even if the traitor had threatened to blow his brains out.

8 This letter of Andrè’s is a model of frankness, and exhibits the highest regard for truth and honor. After revealing his name and character, and relating the circumstances under which he was lured within the American lines without his knowledge or consent, and mentioning his capture, he says, "Thus, as I have had the honor to relate, was I betrayed (being adjutant general of the British army) into the vile condition of an enemy in disguise within your posts." He disavowed any intention of being a spy, and asked, as a favor, that he should not be branded as such, he "being involuntarily an impostor." He further requested the privilege of sending an open letter to Sir Henry Clinton, and another to a friend, for linen; and concluded by intimating that there were several American prisoners who were taken at Charleston for whom he might be exchanged.

9 "She, for a considerable time," says Hamilton, in a vivid description of the scene, "entirely lost herself. The general went up to see her. She upbraided him with being in a plot to murder her child. One moment she raved; another, she melted into tears. Sometimes she pressed her infant to her bosom, and lamented its fate, occasioned by the imprudence of its father, in a manner that would have pierced insensibility itself. All the sweetness of beauty, all the loveliness of innocence, all the tenderness of a wife, and all the fondness of a mother, showed themselves in her appearance and conduct. We have every reason to believe that she was entirely unacquainted with the plan, and that the first knowledge of it was when Arnold went to tell her he must banish himself from his country and from her forever. She instantly fell into convulsions, and he left her in that situation."

Mr. Leake, the biographer of Colonel John Lamb, basing his opinion upon information received from Arnold’s sister Hannah, in 1801, regards this scene as only a trick to deceive, and believes that Arnold’s wife was the chief instrument in bringing about the defection of her husband. Hannah Arnold averred that the traitor’s wife received a pension from the Queen of England during her life. – See Life of John Lamb, by Isaac Q. Leake, p. 270. I can not but regard the inference of Mr. Leake as untenable. It was certainly consoling to the feelings of Hannah Arnold to believe that the influence of another, and not his own base principles, was the source of the defection and disgrace of her brother.

10 Inclosed in the letter to Washington was one for Mrs. Arnold, who, when thus made acquainted of her husband’s safety, became more quiet. She was treated with great tenderness by Washington, and was soon afterward sent to New York under an escort, and joined her husband. Her affection survived his honor, and through all his subsequent career she exemplified the character of a true woman’s love, which often "Clings like ivy to a worthless thing."

11 The position of Colonel Livingston at Verplanck’s Point, with some circumstances that appeared suspicious, made him liable to be distrusted, for it might fairly be presumed that he was directly or indirectly concerned in Arnold’s movements. By a brief letter, Washington ordered Livingston to come to head-quarters immediately. Conscious of his integrity, that officer promptly obeyed, but he expected his conduct would be subjected to a strict investigation. Washington made no inquiries. He told him that he had more explicit orders to give than he could well communicate by letter, and that was the object of calling him to the Highlands. "It is a source of gratification to me," said the commander-in-chief, "that the post was in the hands of an officer so devoted as yourself to the cause of your country." Washington’s confidence was not misplaced, for there was not a purer patriot in that war than Henry Livingston.

12 This view is taken from the Hudson River rail-road, looking north. The dock, covered with cord wood, is seen near the point on the left. It is at the termination of a marsh, near the point of a bold, rocky promontory, through which is a deep rock cutting for the road. The distant hills on the extreme left are on the west side of the Hudson; and through the gorge formed for the road may be seen the military edifices of West Point.

13 Dwight’s Travels in New England.

14 This view is from an eminence near the mountain road, about three quarters of a mile in the rear of Fort Montgomery. In the distance, the cultivated slopes of West Chester, between Peekskill and Verplanck’s Point, are seen. On the left is the high, rocky promontory called Anthony’s Nose; on the right is the Dunderberg, with a portion of Beveridge’s Island; the buildings in the center of the picture, owned by Mrs. Pell’s indicate the site of Fort Clinton; toward the right is seen the deep ravine through which flows Poplopen’s Creek, and on the extreme right, partly hidden by the tree in the foreground, and fronting the river, is the site of Fort Montgomery. The scenery from this point of view is indeed magnificent. This picture is from a pencil sketch by Tice, who accompanied me to the spot.

15 This kill, or creek, is the dividing line between the towns of Monroe and Cornwall, in Orange county. Its correct orthography is uncertain. Upon a map of the State of New York made in 1779 it is called Coplap’s Kill; in the British plan of the engagements there, of which the map given on page 734 {original text has "166".} is a copy, it is spelled Peploap’s; Romans, who was engaged in the construction of the forts, wrote it Pooploop’s.

16 This view is from the outlet of the lake, within a few rods of the spot where a large number of the Americans and British were slain in a preliminary skirmish on the afternoon when the forts were taken. The bodies were thrown into the lake, and from that circumstance it was afterward called Bloody Pond.

17 Generals Knox and Greene visited Fort Montgomery in the spring of 1777, in company with Generals Wayne, M‘Dougal, and Clinton. They made a joint report to Washington, in which they recommended the completion of the obstructions substantially as they were afterward done. The boom and the chevaux de frise so obstructed the current of the river (here very strong), that the water was raised two or three feet above them, and pressed upon them heavily. Twice the chain was parted by this pressure: first, a swivel, which came from Ticonderoga, was broken; and the second time a clevis, which was made at Poughkeepsie, gave way.

18 General Howe was now in Pennsylvania. His army was encamped at Germantown, and being in possession of Philadelphia, he had established his headquarters in that city.

19 When this requisition was made, Putnam was preparing a plan for attacking the enemy at four different points: Staten Island, Long Island, Paulus’s Hook, and New York. He relied upon the militia of Connecticut, New York, and New Jersey, to accomplish his designs. Fortunately, Washington made his requisition in time to prevent what must have proved a disastrous expedition.

20 Colonel Luddington was posted at Tarrytown with about five hundred militia. Clinton sent a flag with a peremptory summons for them to surrender themselves prisoners of war. While parleying with the flag, the enemy endeavored to surround the militia, which Luddington perceiving, he ordered a retreat. The British then returned to their shipping.

21 This view is from Peekskill landing, looking up the river. On the left is the Dunderberg, or Thunder Mountain, over which the troops marched to Forts Clinton and Montgomery. The dark spot on the brink of the river, upon the extreme left, shows the place of the coffer-dam made by the deluded seekers after Captain Kidd’s treasure. At the water’s edge, on the right, is seen the grading of the Hudson River railroad, in course of construction when the sketch was made. The dark mountain on the right is Anthony’s Nose. Intermediately, and projecting far into the river, is a high, sandy bluff, on which stood Fort Independence. Further on is Beveridge’s Island; and in the extreme distance, behind the flag-staff, is seen Bear Mountain. Between the point of Fort Independence and the rock cutting of the rail-road is the mouth of the Peek’s Kill, or Peek’s Creek. The Plan of the attack here given is copied from the narrative of Stedman, a British officer, and appears to be mainly correct. The reader may correct the slight errors by the text.

22 See Humphreys’s Life of Putnam. This detachment seems to have been mistaken by Stedman for the whole army under Putnam, for on his map, at the top, he says, "General Putnam with 2000 men endeavoring to cross the river."

23 In connection with a notice of Colonel M‘Claghrey, who was made a prisoner at the capture of the fort, Mr. Eager, in his History of Orange County, makes a slight error. He says he was taken to New York, and confined in the Hospital. In the room above him, he affirms, was Colonel Ethan Allen, who had been a prisoner in the hands of the British since the autumn of 1775. The floor between them was full of wide cracks, through one of which M‘Claghrey, who had heard of the capture of Burgoyne, passed a scrap of paper to Allen, on which he had written the information. Allen immediately went to his window, and called out to some British officers passing in the street, "Burgoyne has marched to Boston to the tune of Yankee Doodle." "For this and other offenses, we believe," says Mr. Eager, "Allen was sent to England in chains." Quite the contrary. He was sent to England in irons two years before, and had returned to New York, where he was admitted to his parole. In January, 1777, he was ordered to reside on Long Island; and in August following he was sent to the provost jail, where he remained until exchanged in May, 1778.

24 These abatis were placed on the margin of the outlet of Lake Sinipink, near its center, the place from which the view on page 731 was sketched.

25 An account in the Annual Register for 1778 says that the British galleys approached so near the forts that the men could touch the walls with their oars! Both forts were upon a precipice more than one hundred feet above the water, rather beyond the reach of oars of ordinary length.

26 Count Grabowski fell at the foot of the ramparts of Fort Montgomery, pierced by three bullets. He gave his sword to a grenadier, with a request that he would convey it to Lord Rawdon, with the assurance of the owner that he died as a brave soldier ought to. – Stedman, i., 362. A pile of stones still marks the burial-place of the count.

27 Stedman, i., 364.

28 The Americans lost 67 cannons in the forts, and over 30 in the vessels, making a total of more than 100 pieces. Also, 54 casks, 11 half barrels, and 12,236 pounds of loose powder, exclusive of what was in the vessels. There were also 1852 cannon cartridges, and 57,396 for muskets. Also, 9530 round cannon shot, 886 double-headed, 2483 grape and case, and 36 cwt. of langridge; 1279 pounds of musket balls, 116 pounds of buck shot, and 5400 flints. In addition to these were stores of various kinds, such as gun-carriages, port-fires, tools, &c., in great plenty.

29 This is a high rocky promontory, rising to an altitude of twelve hundred and eighty feet above the level of the river, and situated directly opposite Fort Montgomery. The origin of its name is uncertain. The late proprietor of the land, General Pierre Van Cortlandt, says, that before the Revolution, as Captain Anthony Hogans, the possessor of a remarkable nose, was sailing near the place, in his vessel, his mate looked rather quizzically first at the hill, and then at the captain’s nose. The captain comprehended the silent allusion, and said, "Does that look like my nose? If it does, call it Anthony’s Nose, if you please." The story got abroad on shore, and it has since borne that name. Washington Irving, in his authentic history of New York, by Diedrich Knickerbocker, gives it an earlier origin. He says that while the fiery-nosed Anthony Van Corlear, the trumpeter of one of the Dutch governors, was standing one morning upon the deck of an exploring vessel, while passing this promontory, a ray of the sun, darting over the peak, struck the broad side of the trumpeter’s nose, and, glancing off into the water, killed a sturgeon! What else could the hill be called, under the circumstances, but Anthony’s Nose?

30 The Courtlandts, or Van Courtlandts, are descended from a noble Russian family. The orthography, in the Dutch language, is properly korte-landt, meaning short land, a term expressing the peculiar form of the ancient duchy of Courland in Russia. This domain constituted a portion of Livonia, but was conquered by the Teutonic knights in 1561, and subsequently became a fief of Poland. It remained a short time independent, under its own dukes, after the fall of that power, but in 1795 it was united to Russia. The dukes of Courland were represented in 1610 by the Right Honorable Steven Van Cortlandt, then residing at Cortlandt, in South Holland. He was the father of Oloff Stevenson Van Cortlandt, the first lord of the manor of that name, on the Hudson.

31 The first settlement at Peekskill commenced one mile north of the present village, near the head waters of the creek. The name is derived from John Peek, one of the early Dutch navigators, who, mistaking the creek for the course of the river, ran his yacht ashore where the first settlement was commenced. The settlement of the present village was commenced in 1764. – Bolton’s History of West Chester, i., 63.

32 General Philip Van Cortlandt was the last possessor of the manor house, near Croton, by entail. He was born in the city of New York on the 1st of September, 1749, and was reared at the manor house. At nineteen, he commenced business as a land surveyor, but when the Revolution broke out, agreeing in sentiment with his father, Honorable Pierre Van Cortlandt, he joined the Republican army. His Tory relatives tried to dissuade him from his purpose, and Governor Tryon forwarded him a major’s commission in the Cortlandt militia. He tore it in pieces, and accepted a lieutenant colonel’s commission in the Continental army. He was appointed a colonel in 1776, and in that capacity served at the battles of Stillwater. He also served against the Indians on the New York frontier in 1778, and in 1779-80 was a member of the court martial convened for the trial of Arnold. He commanded a regiment of militia under La Fayette in 1781, and for his gallant conduct at the siege of Yorktown he was promoted to a brigadier’s command. Seven hundred of the British and Hessian prisoners of war were afterward intrusted to his care while on their march from Charlottesville to Fredericktown, in Maryland. He was for sixteen years a member of Congress, but in 1811 declined a re-election. General Van Cortlandt accompanied La Fayette in his tour through the United States in 1824. He died at the manor house, at Croton, November 21st, 1831, at the age of eighty-two. With him expired the property entail.

33 The site of this church and the grave-yard was a gift of Andrew Johnson, of Perth Amboy, New Jersey. The parish was called St. Peter’s; and this and the parish of St. Philip, in the Highlands, were endowed with two hundred acres of land by Colonel Beverly Robinson.

34 The following are the inscriptions:

NORTH SIDE. – "Here repose the mortal remains of JOHN PAULDING, who died on the 18th day of February, 1818, in the 60th year of his age."

WEST SIDE. – "On the morning of the 23d of September, 1780, accompanied by two young farmers of the county of West Chester (whose names will one day be recorded on their own deserved monuments), he intercepted the British spy, Andrè. Poor himself, he disdained to acquire wealth by the sacrifice of HIS COUNTRY. Rejecting the temptation of great rewards, he conveyed his prisoner to the American camp; and, by this act of noble self-denial, the treason of Arnold was detected; the designs of the enemy baffled; West Point and the American Army saved; and these United States, now by the grace of God Free and Independent, rescued from most imminent peril."

SOUTH SIDE. – "The Corporation of the city of New York erected this tomb as a memorial sacred to PUBLIC GRATITUDE."

The monument was erected in 1827; the cone was placed on the pedestal on the 22d of November of that year, in the presence of a large concourse of citizens, who were addressed by William Paulding, then Mayor of New York. A copy of the medal presented to the captors of Andrè may be found on page 773.

35 Near this bowlder a gallows, rudely constructed of logs, was erected, on which the spy was hung. It remained there for several years afterward, an object of superstitious dread to the country people who were obliged to pass it in the night.

36 Sparks’s Washington, iv., 359.

37 Alexander M‘Dougall was the son of a Scotchman from the Lowlands, who came to America about twenty years before the Revolution broke out, and commenced business in the city of New York. The date of his birth is not known. He became a zealous Whig during the years immediately preceding the Revolution, and when the war broke out he joined the army. In August, 1776, he was appointed a brigadier, and in October, 1777, he was promoted to the rank of major general. He commanded in the action near White Plains, and was in the battle at Germantown in the autumn of 1777. In 1781 he was elected to a seat in the Continental Congress, and was afterward a member of the New York State Senate. He died June 8, 1786.

38 General M‘Dougall’s MS. Letter of March 29, 1777, quoted by Sparks.

39 The feelings of Tryon toward the Republicans may be learned from a letter of his, written a few weeks after this transaction, in reply to one of remonstrance on the part of General Parsons. "I have," he says, "the candor enough to assure you, as much as I abhor every principle of inhumanity or ungenerous conduct, I should, were I in more authority, burn every committee-man’s house within my reach, as I deem those agents the wicked instruments of the continued calamities of this country; and in order sooner to purge this country of them, I am willing to give twenty-five dollars for every acting committee-man who shall be delivered up to the king’s troops."

In allusion to this and kindred expeditions, Trumbull makes Malcom say,

"Behold, like whelps of Britain’s lion,
Our warriors, Clinton, Vaughan, and Tryon,
March forth with patriotic joy
To ravish, plunder, and destroy.
Great gen’rals, foremost in their nation.
The journeymen of Desolation!
Like Sampson’s foxes, each assails,
Let loose with fire-brands in their tails,
And spreads destruction more forlorn
Than they among Philistines’ corn."


40 SAMUEL HOLDEN PARSONS was a native of Connecticut, and one of a committee of correspondence in that state before the commencement of the war. He was appointed a brigadier general by Congress in August, 1776, and served his country faithfully during the contest. Under his direction, the successful expedition of Colonel Meigs against the enemy at Sag Harbor, on Long Island, in 1777, was sent out. He was appointed a commissioner to negotiate with the Western Indians in 1785. In 1787, he was appointed one of the judges of the Northwestern Territory. He was drowned in the Ohio, in December, 1789.

41 This is a little fountain bubbling up by the road side, and named The Soldier’s Spring, from the circumstance that an American soldier, while retreating before the enemy, stooped at the fountain to quench his thirst. While so doing, a cannon ball, that struck the hills above him, glanced obliquely, hit and shattered his thigh, and left him dying beside the clear waters. He was conveyed in a wagon that passed soon afterward, to Fishkill, where he expired.

42 This was the point off which Henry Hudson’s vessel, the Half Moon, came first to anchor after leaving the mouth of the river. The Highland Indians, filled with wonder, came flocking to the ship in boats, but their curiosity ended in a tragedy. One of them, overcome by acquisitiveness, crawled up the rudder, entered the cabin window, and stole a pillow and a few articles of wearing apparel. The mate saw the thief pulling his bark for land, and shot at and killed him. The ship’s boat was sent for the stolen articles, and when one of the natives, who had leaped into the water, caught hold of the side of the shallop, his hand was cut off by a sword, and he was drowned. This was the first blood shed by these voyagers. Intelligence of this spread over the country, and the Indians hated the white man, afterward, intensely.

The exceedingly tortuous creek which traverses the marsh southward of Verplanck’s Point was called, by the Indians, Meahagh, and this was the name which they gave to the peninsula. It was purchased of the Indians by Stephanus Van Cortlandt in 1683. From him it passed into the possession of his son Johannes, whose only daughter and heiress, Gertrude, married Philip Verplanck, from whom it acquired its present appellation.

43 The following were the terms of capitulation:


"On the glacis of Fort Fayette, June 1st, 1779.

"His excellency Sir Henry Clinton and Commodore Sir George Collier grant to the garrison of Fort La Fayette terms of safety to the persons and property (contained in the fort) of the garrison, they surrendering themselves prisoners of war. The officers shall be permitted to wear their side-arms.

"JOHN ANDRÈ, Aid-de-camp."


44 Smith’s Clove extends northward from the Ramapo Valley, not far from Turner’s station on the Erie rail-road.

45 This sketch presents a rear view of the old embankments of the fort, and of the light-house, which is seen by all travelers upon the river, just before entering the Highlands. The beacon stands exactly in the center of the fort, upon the site of the magazine. There was a covered way toward the water on the north side of the hill, and about twenty yards in the rear are some prominent remains of the ravelins which extended across the point.

46 Mr. Ten Eyck, the old ferryman at Stony Point, informed me that he knew this negro well. His name was Pompey, and for his services on that night his master gave him a horse to ride, and never exacted any labor from him afterward. Pompey’s master was a warm Whig, and himself was a shrewd negro. Soon after the enemy took possession of the Point, Pompey ventured to go to the fort with strawberries to sell. He was kindly received; and as the season advanced, and berries and cherries became plentiful, he carried on an extensive traffic with the garrison, and became a favorite with the officers, who had no suspicion that he was regularly reporting every thing to his Whig master. Finally, Pompey informed them that his master would not allow him to come with fruit in the daytime, for it was hoeing-corn season. Unwilling to lose their supply of luxuries, the officers gave Pompey the countersign regularly, so that he could pass the sentinels in the evening. He thus possessed a knowledge of the countersign on the night of the attack, and made good use of it. That countersign was, "The fort’s our own," and this was the watch-word of the Americans when they scaled the ramparts.


47 ANTHONY WAYNE was born in the township of Eastown, in Chester county, Pennsylvania, on the 1st of January, 1745. He was educated in Philadelphia, and having studied mathematics with care, he opened a surveyor’s office in his native town. He was sent to Nova Scotia in 1765, to locate a grant of land from the crown to several gentlemen in Pennsylvania. They made Wayne superintendent of the settlement. This post he held until 1767, when he returned home, married a young lady in Philadelphia, and resumed his profession as surveyor. In 1773, he was appointed a representative to the general Assembly of his state. He quitted the council for the field in 1775, where he was appointed a colonel in the Continental army, and went to Canada with General Thomas. At the close of the campaign there in 1776, he was promoted to brigadier general. He was with the commander-in-chief at Brandywine, Germantown, and Monmouth, in all of which engagements he was distinguished for his valor. The capture of Stony Point raised him to the highest mark in the admiration of his countrymen. In 1781, he went with the Pennsylvania line to the South, and in Virginia co-operated with La Fayette. After the capture of Cornwallis, he was sent to conduct the war in Georgia, and was very successful. As a reward for his services, the Legislature of Georgia made him a present of a valuable farm. He was a member of the Pennsylvania Convention that ratified the Federal Constitution. In 1792, he succeeded St. Clair in the command of the army to be employed against the Western Indians, and gained a great victory over them in the battle of the Miamis, in August, 1794. He concluded a treaty with the Indians in August, 1795. While engaged in the public service, and returning home from the West, he was seized with the gout, and died in a hut at Presque Isle, in December, 1796, aged fifty-one years. He was buried, at his own request, under the flag-staff of the fort, on the shore of Lake Erie, from whence his remains were conveyed in 1809, by his son, Colonel Isaac Wayne, to Radnor church-yard, in Delaware county. The venerable church, near which the body of the hero lies, was erected in 1717. The Pennsylvania State Society of the Cincinnati caused a handsome monument of white marble to be erected over his remains, upon which are the following inscriptions:


NORTH FRONT. – "Major-general ANTHONY WAYNE was born at Waynesborough, * in Chester county, State of Pennsylvania, A. D. 1745. After a life of honor and usefulness, he died in December, 1796, at a military post on the shore of Lake Erie, commander-in-chief of the army of the United States. His military achievements are consecrated in the history of his country and in the hearts of his countrymen. His remains are here interred."

SOUTH FRONT. – "In honor of the distinguished military services of Major-general ANTHONY WAYNE, and as an affectionate tribute of respect to his memory, this stone was erected by his companions in arms, the Pennsylvania State Society of the Cincinnati, July 4, A. D. 1809, thirty-fourth anniversary of the independence of the United States of America; an event which constitutes the most appropriate eulogium of an American soldier and patriot."

* This is an error. His birth-place was about a mile and a quarter south of the Paoli tavern.

48 This view shows a large portion of the morass, and the place where the assaulting party divided and prepared for an attack upon the fort, which was situated where the light-house is seen. The place of the causeway is on the left, denoted by the cattle. When I made this sketch it was quite high water, and the morass, there about one hundred feet wide, was almost covered. There was another place near the river shore on the right, where the Point was accessible at times. It is distinguished in the sketch by the narrow strip of land extending nearly across the mouth of the morass. Upon this the enemy had dug pits and placed sharpened stakes within them, so that, had the Americans attempted to reach the Point by that way many would have been impaled. The position of the Americans in the attack, and of the outworks and the abatis, will be better understood by a reference to the map on a preceding page.

49 Major (afterward General) Hull says in his Memoir, "At about half past eleven o’clock, the two columns commenced their march in platoons. The beach was more than two feet deep with water, and before the right column reached it we were fired on by the out-guards, which gave the alarm to the garrison. We were now directly under the fort, and, closing in a solid column, ascended the hill, which was almost perpendicular. When about half way up, our course was impeded by two strong rows of abatis, which the forlorn hope had not been able entirely to remove. The column proceeded silently on, and, clearing away the abatis, passed to the breast-work, cut and tore away the pickets, cleared the chevaux de frise at the sally-port, mounted the parapet, and entered the fort at the point of the bayonet. Our column on the other side entered the fort at the same time. Each of our men had a white paper in his hat, which in the darkness distinguished him from the enemy; and the watch-word was, ‘The fort’s our own!’ " Some authors have asserted that bomb-shells were thrown by the British, but such, probably, was not the fact. No official account that I have seen mentions the use of shells.

50 Wayne’s official dispatch, dated at Stony Point, July 17, 1779.

51 This is the number given in the American account. Colonel Johnson, in his official dispatch, says he had only twenty killed.

52 This is a representation of the medal, the size of the original. On one side is a device representing an Indian queen crowned, a quiver on her back, and wearing a short apron of feathers. A mantle hangs from her waist behind, the upper end of which appears as if passed through the girdle of her apron, and hangs gracefully by her left side. With her right hand she is presenting a wreath to General Wayne; in her left she is holding up a mural crown toward his head. At her feet, on the left, an alligator is lying. The American shield is resting against the animal. Over the figure is the legend "ANTONIO WAYNE DUCI EXERCITUS," and beneath, "COMITIA AMERICANA;" "The American Congress to General Anthony Wayne." On the reverse is a fort on the top of a hill; the British flag flying; troops in single file advancing up the hill, and a large number lying at the bottom. Artillery are seen in the foreground, and six vessels in the river. The inscription is, "STONY POINT EXPUGNATUM, XV. JUL. MDCCLXXIX.;" "Stony Point captured, July 15, 1779."

53 General Charles Lee, who was not on the most friendly terms with Wayne, wrote to him, saying, "I do most seriously declare that your assault of Stony Point is not only the most brilliant, in my opinion, throughout the whole course of the war, on either side, but that it is the most brilliant I am acquainted with in history; the assault of Schiveidnitz, by Marshal Landon, I think inferior to it." Dr. Rush wrote, saying, "Our streets rang for many days with nothing but the name of General Wayne. You are remembered constantly next to our good and great Washington, over our claret and Madeira. You have established the national character of our country; you have taught our enemies that bravery, humanity, and magnanimity are the national virtues of the Americans."

54 De Fleury was descended from Hercule Andre de Fleury, a French nobleman, who was the preceptor of the grandson of Louis XIV. during the latter years of the life of that monarch. He was afterward made cardinal and prime minister. The subject of our sketch came to America soon after the news of the revolt reached France. Washington received him kindly, obtained for him a commission, and he proved to be a brave and worthy soldier. Educated as an engineer, his talents were brought into requisition here. In that capacity he was acting at the time of the engagement at Fort Mifflin, on the Delaware. He was at the battle of Brandywine, and for his gallantry there Congress gave him a horse. He returned to France soon after the capture of Stony Point.

55 This is a representation of the medal, the size of the original. The device is a helmeted soldier, standing against the ruins of a fort. His right hand is extended, holding a sword upright; the staff of a stand of colors is grasped by his left; the colors are under his feet, and he is trampling upon them. The legend is, "VIRTUTIS ET AUDACLÆ MONUM ET PRÆMIUM. D. D. FLEURY EQUITI GALLO PRIMO MUROS RESP. AMERIC. D. D.;" "A memorial and reward of valor and daring. The American Republic has bestowed (this medal) on Colonel D. de Fleury, a native of France, the first over the walls (of the enemy)." On the reverse are two water batteries, three guns each; a fort on a hill, with a flag flying; a river in front, and six vessels before the fort. The legend is, "AGGERES PALUDES HOSTES VICTI;" "Mountains, morasses, foes, overcome." Exergue, "STONY PT. EXPUGN., XV. JUL., MDCCLXXIX.;" "Stony Point stormed, 15th of July, 1779."

This identical silver medal was found by a boy while digging in a garden at Princeton, New Jersey, toward the close of April, 1850, and was deposited in the bank at that place for the inspection of the curious. How the medal came there is uncertain. De Fleury returned to France before the medal was struck, and it probably was never in his possession. Congress was afterward in session at Princeton, and the medal may have been lost by the secretary, in whose custody it properly belonged until delivered to the recipient of the honor.

56 See Journals of Congress, v., 226, 227. The following rewards were promised: To the first man who entered the enemy’s works, five hundred dollars; to the second, four hundred; to the third, three hundred; to the fourth, two hundred; to the fifth, one hundred: being fifteen hundred dollars in the aggregate. The ordnance and other stores were estimated at one hundred and fifty-eight thousand six hundred and forty dollars in value, which amount was divided among the troops in proportion of officers and privates. – Sparks’s Washington, vi., 540.

57 This represents the medal the size of the original. The device is America personified by an Indian queen, who is presenting a palm branch to Major Stewart. A quiver is at her back; her left hand is resting on the American shield, and at her feet is an alligator crouchant. The legend is, "JOANNI STEWART COHORTIS PRÆFECTO, COMITIA AMERICANA;" "The American Congress to Major John Stewart." On the reverse is a fortress on an eminence. In the foreground an officer is cheering on his men, who are following him over abatis with charged bayonets, the enemy flying. Troops in single file are ascending to the fort on one side; others are advancing from the shore; ships are in sight. The inscription is, "STONY POINT OPPUGNATUM XV. JUL. MDCCLXXIX.;" "Stony Point attacked 15th of July, 1779."

I believe there is no biography of Major Stewart extant. Professor Wyatt, in his Memoirs of American Generals, Commodores, &c., says he was killed by a fall from his horse, near Charleston, South Carolina.

Lieutenant James Gibbon, who commanded one of the "forlorn hopes," was finally promoted to major. He died at Richmond, Virginia, on the first of July, 1834, in the seventy-seventh year of his age. His remains were interred with military honors.



Transcription and html prepared by Bill Carr, last updated 06/07/2001.

Please provide me with any feedback you may have concerning errors in the transcription or any supplementary information concerning the contents.

Copyright Notice: Copyright 2001. All files on this site are copyrighted by their creator. They may be linked to but may not be reproduced on another site without the specific permission of their creator. Although public information is not in and of itself copyrightable, the format in which it is presented, the notes and comments, etc., are. It is, however, quite permissible to print or save the files to a personal computer for personal use ONLY.