In this little-known Revolutionary War battle in the Bronx, skillful planning and marksmanship by American militia delayed a British landing long enough for George Washington’s army to escape destruction.
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The Battle of Pell’s Point (aka the Battle of Pelham) was fought on October 18, 1776 between American forces commanded by Col. John Glover and British forces commanded by General Henry Clinton near Pelham Manor (The Bronx), New York during the American Revolutionary War. The battle was a British victory, but delayed them long enough for General George Washington’s army to escape White Plains.
In the fall of 1776, American aspirations of independence were at a low point. British Gen. Sir William Howe had overwhelmed and driven the Continental Army commanded by Gen. George Washington out of New York City and Long Island. Washington aspired to escape north to White Plains to avoid being surrounded in Manhattan. He left several thousand men at Fort Washington and a brigade of 750 men commanded by Col. John Glover to contest a British landing at Pell’s Point.
At dawn on October 18, a British force of 4,000 men (mostly Hessian mercenaries) began landing on shore. Col. Glover saw their approach and carefully prepared a defense in depth, arranging his brigade in rows behind several stone walls. As the British approached, each row would fire and fall back to avoid being overwhelmed. Glover’s first line waited until the British troops were less than 30 yards away, then stood and poured a deadly volley into the redcoats.
The British withdrew to reorganize, then advanced in force supported by seven cannon. The Americans fired several volleys and fell back. Eventually, the large number of British troops caused Col. Glover to fear being outflanked and he retreated across the Hutchinson River. The Americans lost 8 killed and 13 wounded to the British 3 killed and 20 wounded, with several hundred Hessian casualties. Glover’s delay gave Washington time to get the Continental Army safely to White Plains, where they would lose another battle ten days later.
Fought between Great Britain and her Thirteen American Colonies from 1775 to 1883, the Revolutionary War led to a Declaration of Independence and the formation of the United States of America in 1776. The Thirteen Colonies won their independence, at the cost of an estimated 158,000 British, American, French, German, Spanish, and American Indian lives. It was a dynamic and surprisingly international conflict.
Today, the Battle of Pell’s Point is commemorated by a bronze tablet (dedicated in 1960) on Glover’s Rock in Pelham Bay Park in the New York City Borough of The Bronx. Glover’s Rock is a large granite boulder on which, due to a miscalculation by a nineteenth century historian, it was widely believed Colonel John Glover stood during the battle. In fact, the battle occurred roughly one mile north, closer to Split Rock Golf Course.
Glover’s Rock is located along Orchard Beach Road, just west of the intersection with Park Drive, at 40°51’54.2″N 73°48’12.2″W. A gravel roadside pull-off is available for parking. Pelham Bay Park, New York City’s largest park, is open from dawn to dusk. There is no admission fee. A smaller marker is located at the Corner of Hudson St. and Washington Ave. near Prospect Hill School in Pelham Manor.