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National Historic Landmark STONY POINT BATTLEFIELD
New York

Location: U.S. 9W and 202, north of community of Stony Point, Rockland County.

Ownership and Administration (1961). State of New York, administered by Palisades Interstate Park Commission, Bear Mountain.

Significance. The small-scale battle at Stony Point, July 16, 1779, was the last military action of importance in the northern theater of war. It was important as a morale builder for the patriots and as a demonstration of the developing skill of the American Army, and it had other significant consequences. A recent study has noted that "the assault paralyzed Clinton [the British commander] . When his reinforcements failed to show up, he dared not, after his loss of men in Connecticut and at the [Stony] Point, make an offensive move." [45] By the action at Stony Point, Washington tightened his grip on the Hudson and especially on West Point, "the key to the Continent."

"Mad" Anthony Wayne's Continentals stormed and captured this Hudson River promontory, Stony Point, on July 16, 1779. Washington's grip on the Hudson at West Point was thus assured. (National Park Service)

The Battle of Stony Point came after the long period of stalemate in the North that followed the Battle of Monmouth in June 1778. At the beginning of June 1779, the British took without opposition the unfinished American fort at Stony Point, a few miles below West Point. Verplanck's Point, on the east side of the river opposite Stony Point, was captured at the same time. Stony Point is a steep promontory jutting half a mile into the Hudson River and rising 150 feet above the water, which all but surrounds it. A marsh, under water at high tide, protected the inland side of the post. Having secured this strong position, Clinton pushed the fortifications to completion and manned them with a garrison of about 600 men. Washington was greatly concerned over the loss of the two strongpoints on either side of the river and after a thorough reconnaissance ordered Gen. "Mad Anthony" Wayne to regain Stony Point. He moved in after dark on July 15, and at about midnight his elite corps launched its assault with muskets unloaded and with orders to use the bayonet. Within 20 minutes the fort had been secured and its surprised garrison made prisoners. The American loss was 15 killed and 80 wounded. Washington concluded that the post could not be held by his troops and ordered the fortifications dismantled and abandoned. The British reoccupied Stony Point but Clinton, alarmed by his losses, had lost heart for further offensive action. Washington had retained his grip on the Hudson River line and won time in which to fortify West Point more strongly than ever.

Present Appearance (1961). Stony Point Battlefield is preserved in a 45-acre State reservation. There are extensive earthwork remains, and historical markers trace the course of the American assault up the steep slopes into the fort. A small museum administered by the American Scenic and Historic Preservation Society contains relics of the battle and tells the story of the action. The point is heavily wooded, but foot trails give access to the important points of interest. A spectacular view of the Hudson River Valley may be had from the summit of the point. [46]

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Last Updated: 09-Jan-2005