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“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
West Point in Orange County, New York — The American Northeast (Mid-Atlantic)
 

The Great Chain

 
 
The Great Chain Marker image. Click for full size.
By Bill Coughlin, June 8, 2012
1. The Great Chain Marker
Inscription. The Hudson River’s narrow width and sharp turns at West Point created adverse sailing conditions and prompted construction of a Great Chain in 1778 as an obstacle to the movement of British ships north of this point. American soldiers positioned the chain to impede the progress of a ship should it attempt to turn into the east-west channel against frequently unfavorable winds and a strong current. Cannon were placed in forts and batteries on both sides of the river to destroy the ship as it slowed to a halt against the obstacle.

When finally completed, the 600-yard chain contained iron links two feet in length and weighing 114 pounds. Including swivels, clevises, and anchors, the chain weighed 65 tons. For buoyancy, 40-foot logs were cut into 16-foot sections, waterproofed, and joined by fours into rafts fastened with 12-foot timbers. Short sections of chain (ten links and a clevis) were stapled across each raft. Later the chain sections were united.

The Great Chain (continued)
On 30 April 1778, Captain Thomas Machin, the engineer responsible for assembling and installing the obstruction, eased the chain across the river, anchoring its northern end under the protection of Marine Battery in the cove to the right of the promontory to your front on Constitution Island. The southern end was secured in a small cove
The Great Chain Marker 2 image. Click for full size.
By Bill Coughlin, September 27, 2009
2. The Great Chain Marker 2
guarded by Chain Battery at the river’s edge to your immediate right front. Both ends were anchored to log cribs filled with rocks, a system of pulleys, rollers, ropes, and mid-stream anchors adjusted the chain’s tension to overcome the effects of river current and changing tide. Until 1783 the chain was removed each winter and reinstalled each spring to avoid destruction by ice. A log "boom" (resembling a ladder in construction) also spanned the river about 100 yards downstream to absorb the initial impact of a ship attempting to penetrate the barrier. Several links of the chain are located at Trophy Point to your left rear. A section of the boom was recovered from the river in 1855 and is now on display at Washington’s Headquarters Museum in Newburg.

A map of the Hudson River and the Great Chain is shown on a bronze tablet just south of Kosciuszko’s Monument on the Fort Clinton parapet to the east of this point.

The British fleet never approached West Point and the strength of the Great Chain was never tested.
 
Location. 41° 23.754′ N, 73° 57.345′ W. Marker is in West Point, New York, in Orange County. Marker can be reached from Washington Road, on the right when traveling west. Click for map. Markers are located at Trophy Point at the U.S. Military Academy. Marker is in this post office area: West Point NY 10996, United States of America.
 
Other nearby markers.
Marker on the Hudson River image. Click for full size.
By Bill Coughlin, September 5, 2009
3. Marker on the Hudson River
At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. In Memoriam (here, next to this marker); Sherburne’s Redoubt (here, next to this marker); Constitution Island (here, next to this marker); West Point in the American Revolution (a few steps from this marker); Our National Heritage (a few steps from this marker); Wars That Shaped the Nation (within shouting distance of this marker); a different marker also named Wars That Shaped the Nation (within shouting distance of this marker); Fred E. McAniff & John R. Parker (within shouting distance of this marker). Click for a list of all markers in West Point.
 
Categories. Notable EventsWar, US Revolutionary
 
The Great Chain Markers image. Click for full size.
By Bill Coughlin, September 5, 2009
4. The Great Chain Markers
Both of the Great Chain markers can be seen in this photo.
Site of the Great Chain image. Click for full size.
By Bill Coughlin, September 5, 2009
5. Site of the Great Chain
The chain stretched from Constitution Island seen at the right, to the river edge below the marker.
Links from the Great Chain image. Click for full size.
By Bill Coughlin, September 5, 2009
6. Links from the Great Chain
These 13 links from the Great Chain are displayed at Trophy Point at West Point. The markers are located at the river overlook seen in the background.
Marker near Kosciuszko Monument image. Click for full size.
By Bill Coughlin, September 27, 2009
7. Marker near Kosciuszko Monument
The Hudson River and Great Chain are shown on this tablet near the Kosciuszko Monument, as mentioned on the Great Chain Marker.
The Great Chain image. Click for full size.
By Bill Coughlin, August 25, 2012
8. The Great Chain
This replica of the Great Chain with log booms is found on Constitution Island.
 
 
Credits. This page originally submitted on , by Bill Coughlin of North Arlington, New Jersey. This page has been viewed 1,013 times since then and 18 times this year. Photos:   1. submitted on , by Bill Coughlin of North Arlington, New Jersey.   2, 3, 4, 5, 6. submitted on , by Bill Coughlin of North Arlington, New Jersey.   7. submitted on , by Bill Coughlin of North Arlington, New Jersey.   8. submitted on , by Bill Coughlin of North Arlington, New Jersey. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016.
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