Posts Tagged ‘Fort Clinton’

Previously unpublished Plan of New York Harbour and part of North River showing events between August and November 1776

January 30, 2012

There are some times in this business when you see something which rings a bell.  Nothing wrong with hearing bells, whistles or hooters come to that, provided that you can remember where and when, when it matters.  In a recent search I came accross this rather battered and lonely manuscript.  In fact I’d been looking at it on and off for a number of years, deciding if it would or indeed should be incorporated into the Heritage Charts collection.

Having finally made the move the next stage was, as always, to decide its relevance.  It told a fairly well-known story and the world is not short of maps, plans, charts, and other doodles which all do the same and are of a lot more interest… Or are there?

3 Questions:

What is it?

What was it a ‘rough’/draft/survey for?… These guys didn’t waste a thing.

Who did it?

Answers as follows:

1.  A manuscript  ‘rough’ of one of the most important events in American history.  Simples!  Not too hard a task inasmuch as it was clearly New York in 1776.

2.  It ended up as a Joseph Frederick Des Barres Map.  (A good copy of which may well set you back a mere $25,000, by the way).  Specifically it ended-up as ‘A Sketch of the Operations of His Majesty’s Fleet and Army Under the Command of Vice Admiral the Rt. Hble. Lord Viscount Howe and Gen./Sr.Wm. Howe, K.B. in 1776.’  Published in London Jan 17, 1777.

How do I know this?

Well, the References give it away.  This charming little unattributed ‘rough’ offers the following…

Image

… Which are labelled A – I.

When put up against the Des Barres References they correspond as follows:

The Letters in bold type on the Heritage Charts (A212) plan corresponds to the reference letter directly below on the Des Barres ‘Sketch:

A. ‘The place where the Troops landed on the 22nd Aug’t 1776′
F. ‘Landing of the Kings Troops on the 22nd August’

B. ‘Where the Action happened on the 27th of Aug’
G. ‘Field of Action on the 27th’

C. ‘Where the Troops landed on the 15th Sept’
H. ‘Landing of the Troops on the 15th September’

D. ‘Where the Rebels retired to’
I. ‘Where the Enemy retired to’

E. ‘A Rebel Post which the Troops took possession of the 23rd Sept’
K. ‘The Enemy post at Paulus Hook taken on the 23rd September’

F. ‘Where the Rebels endeavouryr’d to stop the passage of the River’s by sinking Vessels and Frames of Timber’
E. ‘Where the Enemy endeavourd to stop the passage of the River by sinking Vessels & Frames of Timber thro which the Phoenix, the Roebuck & the Tartar forced their way

up the River on the 9th Oct’r’

G. ‘The place where the Rebels attack’d the Phoenix & Rose on the 4th August 1776′
C. ‘Where the Enemy attacked His Majesty’s Ships, the Phoenix and the Rose, on the 4 August 1776′

H. ‘The place where the above Ships was attacked by the Fire Ships’
D. ‘Where the Enemys Fire Ships engaged the Phoenix and the Rose on the 16th August’

K. ‘The Encampment of the Kings Troops’
M. ‘Encampment of the Kings Troops’

L. ‘The Line of Encampmant of the Kings Troops after the leaving Dobb’s Ferry untill the reduction of Fort washington marked by the letter D.’
N. ‘The Line of Encampmant of the Kings Troops after the leaving Dobb’s Ferry untill the reduction of Fort washington.’

M. ‘The Rebels Fort call’d Fort Constitution, or Fort Lee’
B. ‘Fort Constitution’

N. ‘Place where the Troops Embarked to attack Fort Constitution three days after the Reduction of Fort Washington & landed at H’
O. ‘Where the Kings Troops embarked on the November for the Attack of Fort Constitution and landed at D’

O. ‘The Detachment of the Troops Occupied the 28th Nov’r’
P. ‘A Detachment of the Kings Troops in possession of this Post on the 28th November’

I. ‘The Place where the Troops landed the 12th Oct’r 1776′
L. ‘Landings of the Troopson the 12th October’

No reference on the ‘rough’ to Des Barres reference ‘A’ – Fort Washington – becuse he sneaked it in later!

The J.F.W. Des Barres A Sketch of the Operations of His Majesty’s Fleet and Army under the Command of Vice Admiral the Rt. Hble. Lord Viscount Howe and Genl. Sr. Wm. Howe, K.B., in 1776 ( London: Des Barres, 1777) may be viewed (amongst other places) at http://hdl.loc.gov/loc.gmd/g3801s.ar105700.

So, that just leaves the all-important question of who did it?  Well, my preference is Col. Mustard in the Kitchen with a lead pipe but somehow I think it has more to do with who was in NY at the time, who had the skills, who wrote like this:

Hmmm?..

Fort Montgomery

September 28, 2010

One of the first images we included in the Heritage Charts collection was  ‘A Plan of Fort Montgomery & Fort Clinton’.  The 1779 Samuel Holland plan tells the story of one of the most important and daring engagements of the Revolutionary War which took place in October 1777.

(click on the map for more information)

A Plan of Fort Montgomery and Fort Clinton by Smauel Holland and J. F. W. Des Barres. 1779

It was a great thrill, on the way up to the Newport RI International Boat Show, to be able to make a small detour to find the site of Fort Montgomery and witness first-hand the site of such a historic event in the history of American independence.

The site has been extensively excavated and now includes a very well-organized visitor center, as well as an informed tour….

The Visitor Center at Fort Montgomery

(click on the picture to enter the Visitor Center)

 ….but nothing quite prepares one for the striking view the fort commands over the Hudson (or ‘North’) river.

 View from Fort Montgomery looking South down the Hudson with Fort Clinton to the right.

 On the actual plan the view is marked in red..

According to Samuel Holland the ‘chain’ (yellow line) and the cable (orange line) which were strung across the river to impede the British advance would have been approximately here..

It is not my intention here to give a full history of events at the time.  For that, there are plenty of sources, not least the visitor centre and the supporting New York State Parks web-site.  What is worth noting, apart from the striking beauty of the region (even today with Route 202 and the Bear Mountain bridge which now spans the river), is the sheer ingenuity and determination of the American defenders and engineers to impede the British advance in support of General John Burgoyne.  Although the British land force of Loyalist, Hessian and regular troops under the command of Sir Henry Clinton along with the supporting naval force prevailed on the 6th October 1777, the victory ultimately proved hollow.   The intended reinforcement of Burgoyne’s army further north was fatally delayed and Burgoyne (and the British northern initiative) was forced to surrender ten days later at Saratoga.

Of further interest to the region, as with so many other parts of America are the place names which have emerged from the Revolutionary War period.  In the case of this particular corner of New York is the nearby ‘Hessian Lake’, which given American feelings toward the mercenary Hessian force employed by the British, not just in this engagement  but throughout the war, is perhaps a little surprising.

 More images from Fort Montgomery..

The Battery (red dot on plan which follows..)

 The Powder Magazine (‘d’ on the Plan)

Plan of the fort

Click image for more information

 And finally….

I see no more ships, so it must be time for a lemonade!..


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