The British Capture Fort Washington
Jake Werkmeister


The last act of the Battles of New York was the Capture of Fort Washington. Fort Washington guarded the Hudson River and the British sent ships through it which devalued the actual usefulness of the fort itself. The forts commander thought that he could hold down the fort with only 3000 men. The British attacked the outer defenses of the fort on November 27th.

American troops took boulders the heights of Manhattan to keep the British out. This is called chevaux de frise. When the chevaux de frise was finished, work on the Fort itself began. During the American Revolutionary War, Fort Washington was a fort located at the northernmost tip and within 0.5 mi of the highest elevation of what is now the borough of Manhattan in New York City, overlooking the Hudson River, which was held by American forces. No trenches could be built around the fort because all the soil had to be brought from other places because the original soil was much too rocky.
On October 11, General Howe moved the British army to Westchester County, New York. Washington then moved the American army into Westchester in order to escape if the British cut off them off from Manhattan Island. Washington left behind 1,200 men under the command of Colonel Robert Magaw. In order to monitor the American garrison in the fort, Howe left Hugh Percy and a small force below Harlem Heights.
After being defeated at White Plains, Washington had considered abandoning Fort Washington. However, Greene, whose opinion Washington valued very highly, believed that the fort could be held. Greene argued that holding the fort would keep open communications across the river and might hold off the British from attacking New Jersey. Magaw and Putnam agreed with Greene. Although his natural instinct told him to abandon the fort, Fort Washington was not abandoned.