NEW YORK CITY
Battery Park — In August of 1775, King George III declared that the colonies are in a state of “open and avowed rebellion.” During the same time period, the New York Provincial Congress knew that the cannons in Battery Park were at risk and should be secured. Under orders of the Provincial Congress and at night, Captain John Lamb with about sixty men began dismantling them. The British ship, the HMS Asia, under the command of Captain George Vandeput detected the activity and sent a barge-load of men to investigate. After a warning shot was fired from the barge, Lamb’s men returned fire, killing one of the men on the barge. In retaliation, the HMS Asia open fired on the battery.
This opening volley marked the beginning of hostilities on the
Hudson. The event caused major panic in New York City and demonstrated how
easily the city could be attacked from the harbor.
Last of a series of forts which from the Dutch settlement of 1624, guarded lower Manhattan, this structure was built by the United States in the years 1808 to 1811. It was first called “West Battery,” and was one of the important defenses of New York Harbor during the War of 1812 period. Named in honor of Gov. DeWitt Clinton in 1815, in that year it was made Headquarters, US Third Military District. From 1816 to 1820 Gen. Winfield Scott was in command. The Headquarters was removed from Castle Clinton to Governors Island in 1820.
National Park Service, United States Department of Interior
(Castle Clinton Marker)
Although the only historic remains that can be found in today’s Battery Park date back to the War of 1812, an early morning walk along the water’s edge clearly shows its strategic importance. Walk from the west side of the park near Fort Clinton and go east. One can see the Hudson River with the New Jersey Coast in the distance, as well as, Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty. Continue walking to the east. One can see the East River with Staten Island, Governor’s Island and Long Island in the distance.
The British occupied much of what can be seen from Battery Park for the better part of the Revolutionary War, including Battery Park itself and the area occupied by the buildings that can be seen to the north.
After the American Revolutionary War, on December 4, 1783, General George Washington bade an emotional farewell to his officers at a banquet held in the Long Room, located on the second floor of this tavern. Samuel Fraunces, a West Indian innkeeper, was the proprietor; he later became Washington’s chief steward. Fraunces, also an American patriot, was host to secret meetings of the Sons of Liberty and gave aid to American prisoners of war. The present building, purchased by the Sons of the Revolution in 1904, was restored by them on this site and has since been maintained by them.
Plaque provided by the New York Community Trust, 1976
(Fraunces Tavern Marker)
In the short walking distance from Battery Park to Fraunces Tavern, one historically traverses the beginning of the Revolutionary War in 1775 to the end of the war in 1783.
Built in 1719 as a residence, and later turned into a tavern, Fraunces Tavern has played a part in events before, during and after the American Revolution:
Before the Revolution, Stephen Delancey and his family enjoyed the life of a prosperous mercantile family in an elite New York City neighborhood.
Later, ambitious entrepreneur Samuel Fraunces established one of the finest dining and drinking establishments in New York City, and George Washington became a frequent guest.
Rebels met and planned what would become the American Revolution, while being served by tavern-keeper Samuel Fraunces.
George Washington wept as he bade farewell to his officers in 1783, at the close of the Revolution, in the tavern's Long Room.
After the Revolution, John Jay, the Secretary of Foreign Affairs, and Henry Knox, the Secretary of War, and the staff of the Department of Treasury, worked and made decisions that affected the direction of the new nation, when the federal government rented the tavern as cabinet offices from 1785 to 1787.
Today, Fraunces Tavern is a museum and is a recommended stop for a longer visit to New York City. The Museum, founded in 1907, is dedicated to the study and interpretation of early American history and culture. They offer changing exhibitions, period rooms, tours, public programs and publications. The Long Room is now an example of a late 18th century tavern dining room. The Davis Center displays colorful reproduction, Revolutionary War flags. Special events are held on George Washington's Birthday, Flag Day and the Fourth of July.
A majestic statue of George Washington stands on the front steps of Federal Hall in memory of Washington’s inauguration as the country’s first president — which happened on this spot on April 30th, 1789. The current building is named for the original Federal Hall, perhaps the most historic site in the entire country, where two centuries ago American democracy was born. From 1785 to 1790, New York served as the first capital of the brand-new United States of America. It was in Federal Hall that Congress met for the first time, adopted the Bill of Rights, and created the Departments of State, War and Treasury, and the United States Supreme Court. Today, Federal Hall serves as a museum operated by the National Park Service.
Today’s Federal Hall, built 1836-42 as the city’s Custom House, is one of the few Wall Street buildings surviving from a time when the street was lined with new American banks pretending to be old Greek temples. Outside, its row of Parthenon-inspired columns suggests a reverence for Greek democracy; inside, it Pantheon-like dome brings to mind the economic power of the Roman Empire — neatly summarizing two dominant 19th-century American ideals.
(Federal Hall Marker)
Federal Hall — The hall is at the intersection of Broad Street and Wall street, about five blocks north of Fraunces Tavern just past the New York Stock Exchange. The original Federal Hall that stood here during the 18th century was the first capital building of the United States and the location where George Washington was sworn in as the first President of the United States.
On Federal Hall is an engraving that shows a praying George Washington. The engraving reminds us that Washington was a person who was not above asking for God’s blessings and support. Although he is shown praying in solitude, he often asked his officers to join him in prayer.
In July 1776, John Page wrote:
We know the race is not to the swift
nor the battle to the strong.
Do you not think an angel
rides in the whirlwind and directs this storm?
This was John Page’s explanation for the many Revolutionary War events where one is at a complete loss to explain the logic behind decisions that were made or events that took place. Many of these occurred along the banks of the Hudson River and are upcoming stops on this road trip. Could they have not been the answer to George Washington’s prayers?
Also, on Federal Hall is an engraved plaque in the shape of the state of Ohio. Ohio was founded by circumstances created by the Revolution. One of the problems that Congress had throughout the war was raising funds to pay the soldiers. One of the ways they devised was to give them land in exchange for the money they were owed. As the marker explains, Ohio was founded by a group of soldiers who accepted this arrangement.
was first founded in the year 1696, enlarged and beautified in 1737, and entirely destroyed in the great Conflagration of the City, Sept 21st AD 1776.
This BUILDING was erected on the Site of the former Church in the Year 1788.
Right Rev. Samuel Provost DD Rector
James Duane Esq., J. John Jay Esq. Churchwardens
(Trinity Church Marker)
Trinity Church — Anchoring the west end of Wall Street on Broadway is Trinity Church, which was chartered in 1697. From the entrance to the church one can get a peek at the beauty that lies inside. On the south side of the entrance to the church, there is a memorial to Alexander Hamilton and the many other officers of the Revolutionary War that are interred in the graveyard including Richard Montgomery and Horatio Gates, both Major Generals in the Continental Army. Alexander Hamilton’s grave can be seen from Rector Street that is about a half block south on Broadway and another half block west on Rector Street:
Alexander Hamilton began his involvement with the American Revolution while he was a student at King’s College (now Columbia University). He formed an artillery company in 1775 and became the company commander when he was commissioned a Captain in 1776. He served under George Washington at the battles of Long Island, Harlem Heights, Trenton and Princeton. In March 1777, at the age of 20, he was promoted to Lieutenant Colonel and became George Washington’s Aide-de-Camp and served as Washington’s trusted advisor for four and a half years. In July 1781, he served under Lafayette and participated in the siege at Yorktown. After the Revolution, Hamilton helped lead the efforts to create a constitutional convention and served as the first Secretary of the Treasury under President Washington.
Richard Montgomery was a veteran of the French and Indian War and was one of the first generals commissioned in the Continental Army. In 1775, he served under Philip Schuyler, the commander of the Northern Department of the Continental Army, in the expedition against British-held Quebec. When Schuyler became ill, he took command of the expedition and was killed leading a winter assault against the well-defended fortress of Quebec.
Horatio Gates was also a veteran of the French and Indian War and was among the first generals commissioned in the Continental Army. He was popular with congress and they sent him to replace Schuyler as commander of the Northern Department of the Army after the American retreat from Fort Ticonderoga in 1777. He was in command during the Battles at Saratoga and was given credit for the victory. In 1780, congress made him commander of the Southern Department of the Army, but his reputation suffered after his flight from the battlefield at Camden, South Carolina, and he was replaced by General Nathaniel Greene. He later resurrected his reputation and rejoined Washington at Newburgh. After the Revolution, he served in the New York legislature.
George Washington’s Prayer
Almighty God, we make our earnest prayer that Thou will wilt keep the United States in Thy holy protection; that Thou wilt incline the hearts of the citizens to cultivate a spirit of subordination and obedience to government; to entertain a brotherly affection and love for one another and for their fellow citizens of the United States at large; and finally that Thou wilt most graciously be pleased to dispose us all to do justice, to love mercy, and to demean ourselves with that charity, humility and pacific temper of mind, which were the characteristics of the Devine Author of our blessed religion, and without an humble imitation of whose example in these things can never hope to be a happy nation. Grant our supplication we beseech Thee, through Jesus Christ our Lord, Amen.
Presented by the Women’s Committee of the George Washington-Bulgrave Institution, February 22, 1926.
(Saint Paul’s Chapel Marker)
Saint Paul’s Chapel — If time permits, the chapel is among two other Revolutionary War sites that can be found about five blocks north on Broadway. It was built in 1766 and is the oldest public building in Manhattan. During the Revolution, the church remained fiercely loyal to the British Crown and was spared the great “conflagration” of 1776 when the British invaded the city.
After the war, George Washington attended services here while New York City was the capital of the United States. A special service was held on his inauguration day, April 30, 1789.
|The human spirit is
not measured by the size
of the act, but by the
size of the heart.
(World Trade Center Exhibit)
The chapel, which is a block from the former site of the World Trade Center, became a sanctuary after the 2001 attack on the Twin Towers. Today, the chapel is also a memorial to the sacrifice made by the 911 firefighters, police and other public servants and volunteers.
On the opposite side of the former World Trade Center is the West Side Highway: This route follows the same general route that some of the American forces under the command of George Washington would use on August 30, 1776 to retreat from the British who were just across the East River on Long Island. The day before, Washington’s Army was on Long Island with its back against the East River. They were completely surrounded and outnumbered by the British who could have easily achieved victory two days earlier on August 28th, but General William Howe, Commander of the British forces, had inexplicably halted the British attack. On the next day when the British were ready to capture the Americans, the attack was delayed by a fierce “whirlwind” — a northeaster storm (nor’easters are unusual in the summer). On the evening of the 29th, Washington left the campfires burning while he ferried the entire army across the East river under the cover of a heavy fog. He reported that the fog seemed “to settle in a peculiar manner over both encampments”.
225 years after the American escape from Manhattan, the West Side Highway would once again be an escape route for Americans under attack by terrorists on September 11, 2001.
City Hall Park
“I only regret that I have but
This graceful, 13-foot standing bronze figure, sculpted by Frederick Max Monnics (1863-1937), directly faces City Hall and honors the last moments of the 21-year-old American Revolutionary era spy, Nathan Hale (1755-1776). Disguised as a Dutch schoolteacher, Hale attempted to infiltrate New York’s British ranks to gather intelligence on the enemy’s Long Island military installations. The young man was captured, however, on the night of September 21, 1776 and hanged for treason the next morning on gallows believed to have been erected near 63rd Street and First Avenue…
(New York City Marker)
City Hall Park — About a block further north of St. Paul’s is City Hall Park. During the war, this area was the home of thousands of American prisoners. Conditions in the prisons were atrocious. Some were so over-crowded that all could not lie down and sleep at the same time.
In front of city hall is a statue of Nathan Hale. He was an American spy assigned to New York City after the Battle Long Island. He volunteered for the job at the request of George Washington. Hale disguised himself as a Dutch schoolmaster and slipped behind British lines. On September 21, 1776, he was recognized by a New Hampshire relative, the Tory Samuel Hale. Official papers found on his person revealed him as a spy and the next morning he was led to the gallows. His final famous words: “I only regret that I have but one life to lose for my country.”
Bowling Green — On your return to Battery Park on Broadway, Bowling Green is about two blocks south of Trinity Church. In 1770, after the British Parliament repealed the Townshend Tax, the colonists of New York, in celebration, erected a statue of King George III at Bowling Green. Six years later, the statue would become raw material for the making of bullets. It was pulled down by soldiers after George Washington had the Declaration of Independence read to them on July 9, 1776.
A short distance from Bowling Green was Fort George. The fort was built to protect the harbor but had little effect against the British Navy. After the British evacuated the city, the American flag was raised at the fort with a 13-gun salute. That evening, a fireworks display was reported to “exceed every former exhibition in the United States.”
Breakfast in New York City — The Battery Park
Café can be found at 2 Washington Street, just off Battery Place on the
northeast side of Battery Park. For breakfast, they feature several breakfast
“platers” and the coffee is great.
The high ground near 125th Street, Harlem Heights, is where the Continental Army would regroup and set up defensive positions for the next encounter with the British, but they would also retreat from this position after the British made an end-around move to flank the American position from the northeast.
Britain’s New York Strategy
The story of Fort Lee is interwoven into that of the New York campaign of 1776 for control of the lower Hudson River. For generations, the Hudson had occupied a position of strategic importance in the colonial wars fought between England and France. Connecting by means of portage with Lakes George and Champlain and the St. Lawrence River, the Hudson had long served as an important inland route of communication, travel, and invasion between the Atlantic Ocean and Canada.
Americans and Britons were aware that possession of the Hudson and the northern lakes would be crucial in the war which broke out in 1775. The British realized that if the line of the river and the lakes could be occupied and held, the colonies would be separated and their ability to wage war would be severely curtailed. They could then be individually subjugated or forced to surrender. The Americans also realized this, and made every effort to preserve the line of the river to their cause.
It was obvious that if the British could seize New York and the mouth of the Hudson they would be in position to push north along the waterway with ships of the Royal Navy. In 1775 and early 1776, while the American siege of Boston was still in progress, Washington and other American leaders realized that the next British move would be directed against New York by sea.
Only the lack of bold military leadership by General William Howe, the British commander-in-chief, was to deny the British the decisive victory to crush the rebellion which they could have attained at New York in the summer and autumn of 1776.
(Fort Lee Visitor Center Display)
Onto Fort Lee, NJ
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