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Stony Point Battlefield
State Historic Site

The location of the American Light Infantry’s midnight assault against a British garrison in 1779, and the oldest lighthouse on the Hudson River, built in 1826.

(Stony Point Marker)

One of the unique features of Stony Point is the historical detail presented by the many markers posted around the fort — and all this for an American victory that was achieved within the time frame of a single hour. Most of the markers are numbered and, for the most part, are chronological. There is a map that shows the location of each of the markers.

The American mission at Stony Point in July of 1779 was, no doubt, a dangerous one. George Washington sent General “Mad” Anthony Wayne and about 1,350 carefully selected soldiers to perform a night assault against the British stronghold at Stony Point. The garrison was held by about 700 well-armed, well-trained British soldiers equipped with heavy cannon. They were also well protected behind solid ramparts and two rows of attack-delaying, abatis at the base of the fort. The Americans attacked with no artillery support and no loaded weapons — just fixed-bayonets. Despite strength in numbers, the only real advantage the Americans had, was the element of surprise.

Although Wayne did not tell his soldiers, he regarded the mission as suicidal. In a letter, he left instructions for the care of his family and for his reputation after his death.

Stony Point Battlefield State Historic Site

On the night of July 15-16, 1779, Brigadier General Anthony Wayne of Pennsylvania led the American Light Infantry in a midnight assault against a British force that had occupied Stony Point. Approximately one hour later, the garrison had been captured by two American columns that had outflanked the front line defenses; the main assault column waded through the shallow waters of Haverstraw Bay on the south, while a secondary column approached around the north side of the Peninsula.

In 1826, Stony Point became the site of a lighthouse built to guide ships through the narrow passage of Haverstraw Bay at the southern end of the Hudson Highlands. The lighthouse survives as the oldest on the Hudson River, and was restored and relighted in 1995.

Today at Stony Point Battlefield State Historic Site, a museum with exhibits and an audiovisual program tell the story of the battle. Guided and self-guided tours, as well as musket and artillery demonstrations, 18th-century camp life activities, and numerous special events are scheduled throughout the visitor season.

(Stony Point Marker)




But the American Army of 1779 was a much different army than the one that retreated from New York City to New Jersey in 1776. Wayne’s successful mission, which is well documented on the markers is a testament to the capability of this army.

Although Washington desperately wanted to use this army to oust the British from New York City, it was felt that the cost to do so would be much too high. But the army did possess the capability to sting the British with raids such as this.

British War Veterans of America, Inc., New York Branch of the 
British Legion

Erected this plaque to perpetuate the memories of the men of the 17th British Regiment of Foot who died near this spot defending the Stony Point Fortification against General Wayne’s American Light Infantry on the night of July 15/16, 1779.

(Stony Point Marker)

At Stony Point, the Americans not only took over 500 prisoners, along with much needed supplies and armaments, but they also destroyed the fort on their way out. The British did rebuild Stony Point and temporarily put it back into service, but they eventually withdrew their forces,

The success at Stony Point, and the resultant threat that it created, helped to put the British into a defensive posture around New York City. It helped to turn their attention to an offensive campaign in the south — a campaign that would eventually lead to defeat at Yorktown.

One would think that the American success at Stony Point would have a prominent place in the history books, but it is often left out. Instead historians often turn their attention to the campaign the British mounted in the south and ignore the important events that also occurred during the same time-period in the north.

The Stony Point Battlefield is open Wednesday-Sunday during the day from spring to fall.


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