Fort Montgomery (Hudson River)

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Fort Montgomery is the name of a fortification built on the Hudson River during the American Revolution. It was one of the first major investments by the Americans in strategic construction projects. It is a National Historic Landmark and is owned and operated by the state of New York as Fort Montgomery State Historic Site.


Fort Montgomery in the American Revolution

Fort Montgomery was located at the confluence of Popolopen Creek and the Hudson River near Bear Mountain in Orange County, New York. The fortifications consisted of a river battery of six 32-pound cannons, a boom and cable across the Hudson River (see Hudson River Chain), and landward redoubts connected by ramparts, all situated on a cliff promontory rising 100 feet (30 m) above the river. The fort was commanded by General George Clinton, who was the newly appointed governor of the state. Fort Montgomery and its companion fortification Fort Clinton (on the southern bank of the Popolopen) held a combined garrison of roughly 700 American soldiers. These men were from the 5th NY Regiment, Lamb's Artillery, Orange County Militia, and Ulster County Militia.

The strategic importance of the ability to control navigation along the Hudson River was obvious to both the Americans and the British from the outbreak of open hostilities. The Hudson was the major means for transportation of supplies and troops throughout a large portion of the northeast. The eventual location of the fort was noted for its strategic advantage as a well-placed location for controlling navigation along the river as early as the seventeenth century. Only a month after the first open armed conflict in Lexington, the Continental Congress indicated its intent to build fortifications in the Hudson highlands for the purpose of protecting and maintaining control of the Hudson River. On May 25, 1775, the Continental Congress passed a resolution to construct fortifications along the Hudson River in order to retain control of the waterway that "…a post be also taken in the Highlands on each side of Hudson’s River and batteries erected in such a manner as will most effectually prevent any vessels passing that may be sent to harass the inhabitants on the borders of said river…"[1].

James Clinton and Christopher Tappan, both lifetime residents of the area, were sent to scout appropriate locations for the required fortifications. The initial site chosen was further to the north at West Point, and construction of the fortifications to be named Fort Constitution began. However, difficulties in construction and management of the original plan of fortifications and the escalating costs involved led to its abandonment. The location on Popolopen Creek across from Anthony's Nose was proposed, and the materials and resources from Fort Constitution were redirected to the construction at the new location. Construction began on the new Fort Montgomery in March 1776.

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