Historic America

Stony Point Battlefield State Historic Site, New York

The ruins of a colonial-era fort on the Hudson tell the tale of a daring raid by an American general who earned the nickname “Mad Anthony.”

The Battle of Stony Point was a daring nighttime attack on July 16, 1779 by Brig. General “Mad Anthony” Wayne and 1,350 picked colonial troops on the British garrison at Stony Point during the Revolutionary War. Stony Point was not a true fort, but had been fortified with entrenched firing positions, redans, and abatis. Much of these works can still be seen today, albeit covered with grass. A lighthouse was built at the location in 1828 to guide ships along the Hudson River.

Under cover of darkness, Lt. George Knox led a “Forlorn Hope” of 20 men who volunteered to lead the attack. They knew they probably wouldn’t survive, but someone had to do the job. The men advanced across a chest-deep swamp to reach the British works. Their orders threatened death for any man who spoke, fired his musket, or retreated. Aside from a diversionary formation of two companies, most men only carried muskets with fixed bayonets and no ammunition. They were expected to overwhelm the British in hand-to-hand combat.

Though Brig. Gen. Wayne himself was wounded in the head, the attacked succeeded brilliantly. The Americans moved too swiftly up the hill for the British cannons to depress in time to be used effectively. Only 15 were killed and 83 wounded. They captured 546 British prisoners. Though the colonists carried off cannons and supplies, they abandoned Stony Point, as it had debatable strategic value.

The state historic site opened to the public in 1902 and the museum, featuring exhibits about the battle and the lighthouse, was built in 1936. It was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1961. It offers historical reenactments of eighteenth century military life, cannon and musket firings, campfire cooking demonstrations, nature walks, and guided tours of the battlefield. The museum is small and lacks a gift shop, though it does contain several interesting artifacts found at that location.

Stony Point Battlefield State Historic Site is located at 44 Battlefield Road in Stony Point, New York. The grounds are open Monday to Saturday from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., and Sunday from 12:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. The site is closed and gates are locked at 5:00 p.m. daily. The museum is closed from October 30 to the second weekend in April. The Battlefield is free (or with a suggested donation) to visitors during regular hours. Call (845) 786-2521 for more info.

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