About 30 miles north of New York City, lies Stony Point battlefield, where American troops dealt a stinging blow to the British army on the evening of July 16, 1779. The final battle in the northern colonies, this win helped them secure West Point 12 miles upstream and gave them greater control of the Hudson River Valley. It may not be the most famous Revolutionary War battle, but it was a critical victory in that it helped boost the morale of the young American army. Also, it was the first time in American military history that elite troops (kind of like the Navy Seals of today) were used and it was during this battle Brigadier General Anthony Wayne earned the moniker mad. And if all this is not enough, it helped Ben Franklin convince King Louis XVI that the Americans still have what it takes and thereby the French should continue to back the Revolution.
Rising up to almost 150 feet above sea level, Stony Point is a steep rocky outcropping that extends a quarter-mile into the Hudson. At high tide, it becomes an island connected to the mainland by a narrow neck of land surrounded by marshes. The Continental Army had their work cut out for them. The battle that ensued was fierce hand-to-hand combat. For more on that, I shall now hand over this post to my ten year old, a history buff of the highest order and today’s guest blogger.
Ok, then. Now that I’ve been introduced, I’m gonna write the article. After all, that’s what I’m here for.
Stony Point is a battlefield. We did not go there at the time of the Revolutionary War.
We went in 2021.
Once upon a time…wait that’s a fairy tale. This isn’t some fairy tale. This is a battle.
In 1779, George Washington was the head honcho of the Continental Army.
That means he called all the shots.
George was given a task: to fend off the British long enough they get really annoyed with the Americans and say “Whatever, let’s give them their darn independence, we have other colonies to tax unfairly.” But until then, the Continental Army had to set up forts and do other stuff militaries have to do when they want to fight another hostile nation.
The Continental Army had a fort.
A very nice one.
It was called West Point.
The Brits also had a fort.
It was called Stony Point.
It was probably nicer than West Point.
Anyway, West Point was very important to the Americans because it was going to keep the Hudson River under divided control.
Stony Point was uncomfortably close to West Point, and that was a bit of a problem for George. You see, Brit General Henry Clinton could attack West Point and then the Brits would have all of the Hudson River to themselves.
George probably had a dream like this:
Brits: Hey dudes.
Brits: We’re about to blow up your most prized possession, that ok with you?
Brits: Aw man.
Brits: Pretty please with a cherry on top?
Brits: Great! Thanks dudes, have a great death!
Americans: WAIT WHAT
West Point: *blows up*
Then George probably woke up and said: “WE GOTTA BLOW UP STONY POINT ASAP!”
Then he probably said the trademark line:
“I’ll put my best man on it!”
That “best man” was Anthony Wayne.
Anthony and the Corps of Light Infantry went to attack on July 16, 1779. This was so secretive that the Light Infantry Corps were probably thinking when they walked for 14 miles of treacherous swamp with Anthony Wayne, “WHERE ARE WE EVEN GOING?! WOULD IT KILL YOU TO TELL US, TONY!?”
They went in to attack with unloaded rifles. Now, you, a non-general, probably think that this idea is as dumb as heck. But this was a stealth mission, and if a gun went off then the whole thing would be ruined. They would not have the element of surprise and they would be dead. But wait a minute. You’re probably thinking. How would the Americans know who was trying to kill them and who was trying to help them? They were ordered by George to put pieces of white paper on their hats so that they would know who was trying to kill them and who was trying to help them.
This attack would require the best of soldiers. Conveniently, they had some really good soldiers to fight.
There was Peter “the Virginia Hercules” Francisco, who is way taller than my dad and is probably strong enough to punch a steel wall from America to Britain into King George III’s face. Pete washed up on a shore in 1765. No one knew where he came from. He just…was there. I think the Tesseract spit him out onto shore one day, but that’s my opinion. Pete was in a squad called “Forlorn Hope”. Nice name, but it’s probably not very encouraging.
There was also a French dude named Francois-Louis de Fleury. He commanded one of the Forlorn Hope squads. He was just as good at fighting as the protagonist of Mission Impossible. There was also ANOTHER Forlorn Hope for the OTHER column that would be attacking. The second Forlorn Hope was led by Major John Steward.
Getting to the fort was not exactly the most fun thing ever.
Think of running a marathon.
Then think of running a marathon in a swamp.
Then think about having to wade in waist-deep swamp water half the time while you are running this hypothetical marathon.
Then think about when you finally reach the fort, soaking wet and tired, you get scratched by a bunch of pointy trees (also known as abatis).
Not my definition of fun.
This was the British strategy:
Chop down some trees and whittle them so that they were pointy.
This was the American strategy:
3 units of soldiers would attack the fort. The Forlorn Hopes, the units I spent your life rambling on and on about, would break the abatis and clear the way for the soldiers behind them in the units that weren’t going to shoot stuff and simply storm the fort. The final unit WOULD shoot stuff and make sure the Brits thought that the attack was coming from their side.
British Soldier: Hey, dude, do you think we’re safe?
Other British Soldier: Yeah, the attack is taking place on the other side, plus, it’s not like some American soldier would attack me with a—
British Soldier: OML
American Soldier: Haha get N00BED! *holds up victory sign*
British Soldier: AHHHHHHHH
American Soldier: I have here some duct tape.
British Soldier: Wait wha—
American Soldier: *wraps the British Soldier that was not attacked in tape*
American Soldier: Much better.
The British dudes fell for it and genuinely thought they were attacking from the other side. So then the Americans won. They left like two days after they claimed Stony Point, but they took a lot of ammunition and cannons and other stuff that explodes other stuff. This victory embarrassed the British and made the Americans feel better about themselves, and it also helped Ben Franklin convince King Louis XVI (the head honcho of France) to continue helping the Americans.
On top of that, Tony, Francois-Luis de Fleury and John all got congressional medals. Then, for his bravery, Anthony Wayne was given the nickname Mad Anthony. George blew up the fortifications at Stony Point and used the same tactics in the Battle of Yorktown.
Anthony Wayne (who was wounded in the head) wrote a letter to George Washington saying: “Dear General, the fort and garrison with Colonel Johnson are ours. Our officers and men behaved like men who are determined to be free.”
Well, I guess that’s the end of this blog post.
If You Go:
Look up this website and remember it is hallowed ground so no dogs or bikes beyond the Memorial Arch.
Here’s some photos from our trip: