In his The Hudson From the Wilderness to the Sea, Benson Lossing gives a clear account of this Revolutionary Fort as it looked in 1866:
"Fort Putnam was erected by the Americans in 1778, for the purpose of defending Fort Clinton, on West Point below, and to more thoroughly secure the river against the passage of hostile fleets. It was built under the direction of Colonel Rufus Putnam, and chiefly by the men of his Massachusetts regiment. It commanded the river above and below the Point, and was almost impregnable, owing to its position. In front, the mountain is quite steep for many yards, and then slopes gently to the plain; while on its western side, a perpendicular wall of rock, fifty feet in height, would have been presented to the enemy. Redoubts were also built upon other eminences in the vicinity. These being chiefly earth works, have been almost obliterated by the action of storms; and Fort Putnam was speedily disappearing under the hands of industrious neighbors, who were carrying off the stone for building purposes, when the work of demolition was arrested by the Government. Its remains, consisting of only broken walls and two or three arched casemates, all overgrown with vines and shrubbery, are now carefully preserved. Even the cool spring that bubbles from the rocks in its centre, is kept clear of choking leaves; and may reasonably hope that the ruins of Fort Putnam will remain, an object of interest to the passing traveller, for more than a century to come."
When British actress Fanny Kemble hiked up to Fort Putnam in1832, she described the view in ecstatic terms:
The beauty and sublimity of what I beheld seemed almost to crush my faculties
I felt dizzy as though my senses were drowning-I felt as though I had been
carried into the immediate presence of God. Though I were to live a thousand years,
I never can forget it.
No battles were ever fought at Fort Putnam but it became a symbol of the Revolution to tourists traveling in the highlands after the war. Today it has been restored and is open to the public. From its high position, it provides an excellent view of the Highlands. A famous painting of the Hudson River School by Thomas Cole is of a View of Fort Putnam.