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Americans Capture Stony Point July 15, 1779

In their first northward action since the surrender at Saratoga, the British captured the American fort at Stony Point. Under the direction of General Washington, the Americans recaptured the fort, suffering only minimal casualties.


By the Spring of 1779, the war had settled into a near stalemate. The British forces were in New York, with Washington's forces outside. The British were too strong for the Americans to attack, and Washington's forces presented no target for the British. The British commander, General Clinton, settled on a strategy of staging raids on American port cities and towns. After a successful raid in Virginia, Clinton turned his fleet toward attacking two American forts guarding the Hudson River; Stoney Point and Fort Lafayette. The two forts quickly fell to superior British forces. It was Clinton’s hope that this would only be a prelude to an attack on West Point. Clinton waited for reinforcements before moving on the more formidable West Point, as had been the British tradition during the course of the war.

Washington was dismayed by the capture. Initially, Washington did not believe he could do anything to respond. But Washington soon received reports which showed that Stony Point could possibly be retaken. Washington personally reconnoitered the area of the fort and developed a plan together with General Wayne. Washington had tasked Wayne with the responsibility for the attack. Wayne developed an audacious plan for a surprise attack on the Fort.

Stoney Point stood 150 feet above the Hudson, surrounded on three sides by water. The fort was held by close to 700 British soldiers. On July 15th, shortly after midnight, two hundred carefully selected volunteers, led by Wayne, silently approached the fort. They surprised the sentries and stormed into the fort. The sleeping British were quickly overwhelmed when the advanced force opened the fort to reinforcements. Before long, the British soldiers were asking for quarters, admitting defeat. Americans suffered 100 casualties, 17 of them fatalities. The British, however, lost their total garrison of 700 soldiers, who were either killed, wounded, or captured. Washington retrieved the cannons and all the supplies from the for. Then Washington destroyed the fort, wishing to take a chance that the British could recapture it.

In August, American troops, led by Colonel Lee, staged a successful raid on Paulus Point; opposite Manhattan. In this attack Lee lost 5 men, while killing, wounding or capturing the entire British garrison of 250.