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Fort Montgomery in Orange County, New York — The American Northeast (Mid-Atlantic)
 

The Battle of Fort Montgomery

 
 
The Battle of Fort Montgomery Marker image. Click for full size.
By Bill Coughlin, July 10, 2009
1. The Battle of Fort Montgomery Marker
Inscription. To aid Lieutenant General John Burgoyne’s British army stalled at Saratoga, Lieutenant General Sir Henry Clinton sailed from New York with 3,000 British, German, and Loyalist soldiers and a flotilla of warships. On the morning of October 7, 1777, Clinton landed 2,100 of his men on the west side of the Hudson River near Stony Point. This force followed a narrow trail through the mountains, where they ran into a party of 30 men sent from Fort Clinton to detect the British advance. After beating the Americans back, Sir Henry Clinton sent 900 men around Bear Mountain to attack Fort Montgomery. The rest would wait to attack Fort Clinton until the first group had reached Fort Montgomery.

In the afternoon, the British began an assault on both forts, which were defended by no more than 700 men. At Fort Montgomery, the Americans kept the British at bay as the two sides exchanged musket fire. When the Americans refused to surrender, the British stormed both forts. Taking advantage of the growing dark and the smoky haze from the battle, many of the Americans escaped, but as many as 275 were taken as prisoners to New York City where they remained for much of the war.

Following the battle, the British destroyed Fort Montgomery, garrisoned Fort Clinton, and burned New York’s capital at Kingston. Then, receiving orders to join Sir
Markers in Fort Montgomery State Historic Site image. Click for full size.
By Bill Coughlin, July 10, 2009
2. Markers in Fort Montgomery State Historic Site
This set of three markers were relocated from near Route 9W on the walking trail to the north end of the visitor center parking lot. The "Battle of Fort Montgomery" marker is the center marker in the photo.
William Howe’s army near Philadelphia, Clinton’s men destroyed Fort Clinton and sailed back down the Hudson. Although captured and destroyed, the forts had presented enough of an obstacle to keep the British forces in New York from aiding Burgoyne’s army. The following year, in 1778, the Americans began rebuilding their defenses, this time at west Point.

The Coded Message

D[ea]r Sir. W. Howe is gone to the Chesapeake bay with the greater part of the army. I hear he has landed but am not certain[.] I am left to command here with too small a force to make any effectual diversion in your favor[.] I shall try something at any rate. It may be of use to you. I own to you I think Sr. W.’s move just at this time the worst he could take[.] much joy on your success.

Sir Henry Clinton sent this coded message to General Burgoyne, who lost the hourglass-shaped cipher necessary to decode it properly. Nevertheless, Burgoyne got the gist of the message and replied that Clinton should do what he could to help. You can see the coded message within the hourglass shading on the letter and read its transcription above. Courtesy Clemnents Library University of Michigan.
 
Erected by Fort Montgomery State Historic Site.
 
Location. 41° 19.451′ N, 73° 59.246′ 
The Battle of Fort Montgomery Marker at original location image. Click for full size.
By Bill Coughlin, April 23, 2008
3. The Battle of Fort Montgomery Marker at original location
W. Marker is in Fort Montgomery, New York, in Orange County. Marker is on U.S. 9W, on the right when traveling north. Touch for map. Marker is in Fort Montgomery State Historic Site on the walking trail, near Route 9W. Marker is in this post office area: Fort Montgomery NY 10922, United States of America.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Building a Fort (here, next to this marker); Fort Montgomery Today (here, next to this marker); The Historic 1777 & 1779 Trails (within shouting distance of this marker); Powder Magazine (within shouting distance of this marker); Gardens of the Fort (within shouting distance of this marker); Three Sisters Garden (about 300 feet away, measured in a direct line); Guard House (about 300 feet away); Soldiers’ Necessary (about 300 feet away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Fort Montgomery.
 
More about this marker. The left side of the marker contains a map of the plan of attack on the Forts Clinton and Montgomery, upon the Hudson River. The map has the caption “Plan of the Attack, by John Hill. Courtesy New York State Library."

Under the map is a picture of Sir Henry Clinton, by J. Stuart Rogers. Courtesy New York State Library.

On a sidebar is the details of Burgoyne’s Plan for 1777

For 1777, Lieutenant General John Burgoyne devised a plan
Marker at Fort Montgomery State Historic Site image. Click for full size.
By Bill Coughlin, April 23, 2008
4. Marker at Fort Montgomery State Historic Site
Marker is seen here, in center of photo, at its previous location near Route 9W.
to capture the Champlain Valley and the Hudson River. He would invade New York’s northern frontier from Canada, while a smaller force invaded New York’s frontier from the west. Burgoyne expected that General Sir William Howe would bring the British army occupying up the Hudson River, and that the three forces would join in Albany. If Burgoyne’s plan succeeded, New England would be isolated from the other colonies. However, none of the three forces ever reached Albany.

St. Leger

Lieutenant Colonel Barry St. Leger’s force stalled at Fort Schuyler (the American name for Fort Stanwix in Rome). After the bloody battle of Oriskany and the defection of the Native American component of his expedition, reinforcements led by Major General Benedict Arnold forced St. Leger to retreat to Canada.

Burgoyne

Stopped by the Americans near Saratoga on September 19, 1777, Burgoyne received a coded message (see graphic) from Sir Henry Clinton and decided to await his assistance. Clinton successfully captured Forts Montgomery and Clinton, but Burgoyne was defeated in a second battle near Saratoga on October 7, 1777, and surrendered his entire army ten days later. Most historians consider this the turning point of the Revolutionary War, because it helped convince France to openly enter the war on America’s side early in 1778.

Clinton

Lieutenant
Fort Montgomery Walking Trail image. Click for full size.
By Bill Coughlin, April 23, 2008
5. Fort Montgomery Walking Trail
This marker was originally located on the walking trail in Fort Montgomery State Historic Site.
General Sir Henry Clinton was left to command the British garrison in New York City after Howe moved to capture Philadelphia. Clinton sent a coded message (see graphic) offering to provide a division in Burgoyne’s force, to which Burgoyne desperately responded he should do it “directly.”

Howe

Burgoyne’s plans for 1777 assumed that the commander of the British army in New York City, General Sir William Howe, would cooperate with him and move up the Hudson River. Howe instead followed his own plans to capture Philadelphia, leaving a large garrison to maintain control of New York City.
 
Related markers. Click here for a list of markers that are related to this marker. This series of markers follow the walking tour of the Fort Montgomery Battlefield.
 
Also see . . .
1. The Battle of Fort's Montgomery and Clinton. The American Revolutionary War. (Submitted on April 27, 2008, by Bill Coughlin of North Arlington, New Jersey.) 

2. The Battle of Fort's Montgomery and Clinton. (Submitted on April 27, 2008, by Bill Coughlin of North Arlington, New Jersey.)
 
Categories. Forts, CastlesWar, US Revolutionary
 
Interior of Fort Montgomery image. Click for full size.
By Bill Coughlin, April 23, 2008
6. Interior of Fort Montgomery
The site of Fort Montgomery contains the remains of earthworks and original foundations of the fort's buildings.
The Battle of Fort Montgomery image. Click for full size.
By Bill Coughlin, October 10, 2015
7. The Battle of Fort Montgomery
The Battle of Fort Montgomery image. Click for full size.
By Bill Coughlin, October 10, 2015
8. The Battle of Fort Montgomery
American forces defend Fort Montgomery from the attacking British troops.
 
 
Credits. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016. This page originally submitted on April 27, 2008, by Bill Coughlin of North Arlington, New Jersey. This page has been viewed 1,408 times since then and 39 times this year. Photos:   1, 2. submitted on December 3, 2009, by Bill Coughlin of North Arlington, New Jersey.   3, 4, 5, 6. submitted on April 27, 2008, by Bill Coughlin of North Arlington, New Jersey.   7, 8. submitted on October 11, 2015, by Bill Coughlin of North Arlington, New Jersey. • Kevin W. was the editor who published this page.
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