The Hudson Highlands were once the scene of a heroic last stand at two forts in the shadow of Bear Mountain, New York, unbeknownst to thousands of families visiting the Trailside Zoo each year.
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The Battle of Forts Clinton and Montgomery (aka Battle of the Hudson Highlands) was fought on October 6, 1777 between British forces commanded by Maj. Gen. Sir Henry Clinton and Maj. Gen. John Vaughan and American forces commanded by Brig. Gen. George Clinton and Brig. Gen. James Clinton at the junction of Popolopen Creek and the Hudson River during the American Revolutionary War. The battle was a hollow victory for the British due to Maj. Gen. John Burgoyne’s surrender at Saratoga later that month.
After the Battle of Freeman’s Farm (or First Saratoga), the British and American armies sat licking their wounds. British Maj. Gen. John Burgoyne’s 5,000 supply-starved men hugged the Hudson River near Saratoga, New York. In late September, Maj. Gen. Sir Henry Clinton moved his 3,100-man army north to relieve Burgoyne and open the Hudson River to British ships. Standing in his way was New York Governor George Clinton with 600 men and 20 artillery pieces at Fort Clinton and Fort Montgomery, plus the warships Montgomery and Congress and three smaller vessels.
British Maj. Gen. Clinton split his army in two in order to assault both forts simultaneously by land. Nine hundred men under Lt. Col. Archibald Campbell were to attack Fort Montgomery and 1,200 men under Clinton and Maj. Gen. John Vaughan would attack Fort Clinton. They would be supported by seven ships on the Hudson.