From Stony Point to Fort Montgomery was only a short distance; but the route which Clinton determined to pursue, in the hope of taking the Americans by surprise, was one of the roughest and most laborious that can be conceived:-it was impassable to artillery, and therefore no guns were brought; though they were marching against fortified places. It was a path across the Dunderberg, steep, winding, and so narrow that in many places not more than three men could march abreast. Two hundred resolute Yankees, posted across the path, and on the hills and rocks above it, might have checked and even destroyed the two thousand British; but the daring Putnam was away on the other side of the Hudson, and the garrisons of Forts Montgomery and Clinton never conceived it possible that regular army would take so dangerous a road. The British thus got to the crest of the mountain, and began to descend it on the other side before they were discovered, though they were many hours in performing that toilsome march. At the foot of the mountain the advanced guard stumbled upon an American detachment, which was advancing much too late for the defence of the pass. This detachment quickly retreated to the forts, and destroyed Clinton's hope of capturing them by surprise, at the approach of night; he resolved, however, to go on and trust to his muskets and bayonets. He divided his forces into two columns, one of which he sent under Colonel Campbell against Fort Montgomery, while he advanced in person to storm Fort Clinton. The attacks were made upon the two forts about sunset, at the same time, and precisely as agreed upon. The garrison of Fort Montgomery made a short resistance, in which Colonel Campbell was killed, and then abandoned their works. . . .
The enemy had advanced to the charge in the dusk of the
evening, and before they had completed their conquest it was
night. But the darkness was soon partially dispersed by a most
brilliant illumination, which proceeded from two frigates, two
galleys, and a sloop, which the Americans had drawn up in a
little inlet under the guns of the fort, and to which the crews
now set fire, to prevent them from falling into the hands of the
conquerors. It was a part of Clinton's plan, that Hotham should
have secured this flotilla while he was engaged in storming the
forts; but his scheme was baffled by another exercise of the
ingenuity and great industry of the Americans, from which he
suffered so much during the war.
They had contrived to throw right across the Hudson, there six hundred yards wide, chevaux-de-frise, and, behind them, a most enormous boom, which was strengthened by vast rafts of timber connected by strong cables, and by an immense iron chain. The British shipping were close at hand; but it required time to remove these obstructions; and ships on fire with powder in their holds, and their guns shotted, were too formidable to be approached by any of the men under commodore Hotham. 'Thus they were left to make a brief but magnificent spectacle, and then blow up into the air between the lofty echoing banks of the Hudson. When the boom was removed, Sir James Wallace, with a flying squadron of small frigates, ascended the Hudson still higher, and destroyed several American vessels.
In April 1776, Fort Montgomery was named for General Richard Montgomery who had been killed in the battle of Quebec. The attack on Forts Montgomery and Clinton was led by Sir Henry Clinton on October 6, 1776. About six hundred Americans defended the forts but they were vastly outnumbered by British and German forces. They refused British offers to surrender and repelled the British until nighttime when the British overran the fort. Both British and American armies suffered many casualties. It was after this battle that the British broke the first chain across the Hudson, the one one stretching from Fort Montgomery to Anthony's Nose.
In 1997 The Fort Montgomery Battle Site Association was chartered by New York State to further a plan to preserve and promote the site. Archeological studies carried out in the 1970's by the Palisades Interstate Park Commission uncovered many artifacts from the Revolutionary period. Anyone interested in finding out more about this Association may write to the Fort Montgomery Battle Site Association, Box 376, Fort Montgomery, NY. 10922. Membership is ten dollars per year.
Map of the Battle of Fort Montgomery