Click to expand photos
Over 240 years ago, this unassuming park in Manhattan was the scene of one of the patriot’s worst defeats during the Revolutionary War.
The Battle of Fort Washington was fought on November 16, 1776 between American forces commanded by Col. Robert Magaw and British and Hessian forces commanded by Lt. Gen. Hugh Percy and Wilhelm von Knyphausen in present-day Washington Heights, Manhattan, New York during the American Revolutionary War. The battle was a complete British victory, with all American defenders killed, wounded, or captured.
In the fall of 1776, American aspirations of independence were at a low point. British General 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 under Col. Robert Magaw and a brigade commanded by Col. John Glover at Pell’s Point to contest any British landing.
Though Col. Glover delayed the British advance at Pell’s Point on October 18, he was forced to retreat. With General Washington’s defeat at White Plains ten days later, the path was clear for Howe’s army to march on Fort Washington. Col. Robert Magaw stubbornly held on despite Washington’s discretionary order that the fort be abandoned.
Continue reading “Bennett Park and Fort Washington, New York City”
Fort Ontario has a rather exciting and complicated history. It saw action in three wars: French and Indian War, Revolutionary War, and War of 1812. Held by the British from 1755 to 1796, it passed to the Americans in the Jay Treaty, which resolved disputes stemming from the Revolutionary War. The fort was one of three guarding the mouth of the Oswego River at Lake Ontario. Today, it is a State Historic Site and museum.
In 1755, the British built a wooden stockade at that location called the Fort of the Six Nations. French General Marquis de Montcalm destroyed it and other surrounding forts in August 1756 during the French and Indian War. Three years later, the British rebuilt the fort and named it Fort Ontario. During the Revolutionary War, in July 1778, Colonial soldiers found it abandoned and burned it.
At the Battle of Oswego, May 6, 1814, during the War of 1812, British Lieutenant Colonel Victor Fischer and a force of 550 soldiers and 400 marines attacked Fort Ontario and its garrison of 242 regulars and 200 militia. The British suffered 80-87 casualties to the Americans’ 69-119. They succeeded in destroying the fort after its capture.
Continue reading “Fort Ontario State Historic Site in Oswego, New York”
Fort Stanwix National Monument is a reconstruction of a historic fort occupying approximately 16 acres in downtown Rome, New York. Originally built by the British, it was captured and used by American colonists during the Revolutionary War. It was also the setting for two treaties with American Indians. Reconstruction finished in 1978.
British General John Stanwix ordered construction of the fort in the summer of 1758 to guard a portage connecting the Mohawk River and Wood Creek during the French and Indian War. It finished in 1762. The 1768 Treaty of Fort Stanwix between the British and the Iroquois attempted to solidify the frontier boundary and reduce hostility there. The fort was then abandoned and allowed to fall into ruin.
Colonial troops under the command of Colonel Elias Dayton occupied and repaired the fort in July 1776 and renamed it Fort Schuyler. British forces besieged the fort in August 1777, but were demoralized by a colonial raid on their camp and withdrew. It burned down in 1781. A treaty between the United States and the Iroquois League was signed at the site in 1784.
Continue reading “Fort Stanwix National Monument”
Once a picturesque ruin, preservationists and private investors slowly restored Fort Ticonderoga to its former glory. Alternatively held by the French, British, and Americans, today it is a premier museum of eighteenth and early nineteenth century military history. Tickets include admission to Mount Defiance, a strategic hill between the LaChute River and Lake Champlain.
Originally called Fort Carillon by the French, Fort Ticonderoga is a stone star fort near the southern end of Lake Champlain at the New York/Vermont border. French engineer Michel Chartier de Lotbinière, Marquis de Lotbinière constructed the fort between 1755 and 1757 during the French and Indian War.
Despite a reputation for being formidable, Fort Ticonderoga was captured three times without much loss in blood or treasure. In 1759, 11,000 British troops scared off a garrison of 400 Frenchmen with a few artillery shots. The retreating French tried to blow up the fort with explosives. In 1775, American militiamen called Green Mountain Boys surprised and captured the small British garrison. Two years later, the British recaptured the fort after hauling artillery up to the summit of Mount Defiance. The Americans fled without a fight.
Continue reading “Fort Ticonderoga and Mount Defiance”
For history buffs, no trip to Upstate New York is complete without visiting Fort William Henry Museum and Restoration at the southern tip of Lake George. It’s a faithful recreation of the original fort, burnt by the French in 1757. The museum offers a variety of activities, guides in period uniform, artillery demonstrations, and an extensive gift shop.
French forces besieged the fort in 1757 during the French and Indian War. To end the siege, French General Louis-Joseph de Montcalm arranged for the British forces to leave, but American Indians under his command were angry at being denied war spoils and massacred several hundred retreating British. These events formed the backdrop for James Fenimore Cooper’s novel The Last of the Mohicans (1826).
Sir William Johnson ordered the fort’s construction in 1755 in preparation for a British attack on Crown Point on Lake Champlain. The French and their Indian allies, however, destroyed it less than two years later. The siege only lasted a few days, with the French artillery inflicting most of the damage. Montcalm’s army tried to stop deprivations inflicted by their allies on paroled British captives, but events spiraled out of their control.
Continue reading “Fort William Henry in Lake George, New York”
Visitors to Fort Ticonderoga are likely to overlook this site about three-quarters of a mile west of the citadel, but for seven hours on July 8, 1758, it was the scene of the bloodiest battle in the French and Indian War. The battle also inspired a Scottish legend.
Fort Carillon (the original French name for Fort Ticonderoga) was key to French defenses on the shore of Lake Champlain. The French and Indian War, part of the larger Seven Years’ War between France and Great Britain, had been raging for four years. In 1758, the British launched an invasion of what was then the French colony of Canada.
General James Abercrombie took a force of 6,000 British regulars and 12,000 colonial volunteers, rangers, and American Indians to lay siege to Fort Carillon. The French, under General Louis-Joseph de Montcalm and the Chevalier de Levis, numbering about 3,600, dug entrenchments and erected breastworks on a rise west of the fort.
Continue reading “Fort Carillon Battlefield”
In May 1668, Captain Robert Searle and 70 English buccaneers arrived at St. Augustine to sack the city. In the process, they freed Henry Woodward, first settler of South Carolina, from Spanish prison. In response to the daring raid, Governor Francisco de la Guerra y de la Vega ordered construction of a stone fort on the western shore of Matanzas Bay.
That fort was the Castillo de San Marcos, today the oldest masonry fort in the continental United States. It was built between 1672 and 1695, and changed hands five times between 1763 and 1862.
The Castillo de San Marcos was designated a national monument in 1924 and is currently managed by the National Park Service. In addition to preserving a rich historical legacy, the fort offers beautiful views of Matanzas Bay and the Atlantic Ocean.
Continue reading “Castillo de San Marcos in St. Augustine, Florida”