Efforts by the American Battlefield Trust have recently preserved the scene of this obscure Revolutionary War battle in New York’s Hudson Valley.
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The Battle of Fort Anne was fought on July 8, 1777 between American forces commanded by Col. Pierse Long and Henry van Rensselaer and British forces commanded by Lt. Col. John Hill near present-day Fort Ann, New York during the American Revolutionary War. The battle was a tactical draw: both sides withdrew after running low on ammunition, although American forces abandoned Fort Anne shortly after.
In early summer 1777, British Lt. Gen. John Burgoyne began his campaign to control Lake Champlain and the Hudson Valley in order to sever New England from the rest of the colonies. He seized Fort Ticonderoga on July 5, and American forces retreated south. On July 7, British forces defeated an American rear guard at the Battle of Hubbardton. Lt. Col. John Hill’s 9th Regiment of Foot, numbering about 200 British regulars, pursued a small American force south of Lake Champlain toward Fort Anne.
When the Americans arrived at Fort Anne, they fortuitously met Col. Henry Van Rensselaer and an additional 400 militiamen. On the morning of July 8, they turned on their pursuers, aided by information gathered from a spy who posed as a deserter. The British retreated to a wooded hill north of the fort. For several hours, American militia took cover behind trees and angled to surround the beleaguered British.
Then, as both sides ran low on ammunition, the Americans heard Indian war cries in the dense forest and retreated, believing a large force of Britain’s native allies had arrived. In fact, the cries came from a British officer who was trying to inspire a small group of Iroquois warriors. British reinforcements did arrive the next day, and the Americans burned Fort Anne and retreated. In total, the British lost 13 killed and 25 wounded or captured to the American’s 50-100 casualties.
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, Fort Ann, New York is a bustling small town of 6,000 residents. U.S. Route 4 cuts through town, running north and south. Not much remains to indicate a fort once existed there, but a roadside plaque erected in 1927 marks the hill where the British made their stand. The American Battlefield Trust recently purchased 160 acres of Battle Hill in an effort to preserve the site for future generations. Additionally, a historic marker was erected in a town park in 2017.
The iron plaque is located along U.S. Route 4 on the rock face on the southern slope of Battle Hill at 43°25’27.7″N 73°28’53.5″W. There is a gravel roadside pull off for parking. The more modern historical marker is located just north of town in a small park with a Fort Ann information kiosk along U.S. Route 4 (north of Crandall Lane).