Overview and Summary of the Battle of Fort Washington
Following the American defeat at the Battle of White Plains in late October, General William Howe chose to forgo a direct assault against the Continental Army and instead turned his attention to Fort Washington. General Nathanael Greene was in command of Fort Lee on the Palisades on the New Jersey shore. The Battle of Fort Washington took place on Saturday, November 16, 1776 at Washington Heights, Manhattan, New York. On the crest of Mount Washington was a 5-sided earthwork, called Fort Washington which was the principal fortification within the American lines, and was commanded by Colonel Robert Mcgaw. It was 230 feet above tide-water and 34 great guns. Old ships had been sunk in the river near the forts to provide obstacles to the British Navy. General Nathanael Greene was confident that Fort Washington would hold against the British and advised General Washington accordingly. He was wrong. An American deserter named William Demont provided the British with details of the American defenses and plans of the fort. Three British ships sailed up the Hudson, slipped by the forts and avoided the sunken wrecks. British troops in the surrounding hills opened cannon fire on the fort and its outlying installations. Many Americans sought refuge in Fort Washington. Then Colonel Johann Rall, leading the Hessians,scaled the north wall of the fort. Colonel Mcgaw knew that the battle was lost and had no alternative but to surrender. The British had previously threatened that no quarter would be given to any survivors of the battle - but they did not carry out their threat. Nearly 3000 American soldiers were captured. 43 cannon and vital supplies were taken by the British. Three days after the fall of Fort Washington, Fort Lee was abandoned. The defeat at the Battle of Fort Washington dealt a crushing blow to the American cause but would fight again at the Battle of Trenton.
The Importance and Significance of the Battle of Fort Washington
Significance of the Battle of Fort Washington: The significance of the conflict was that the Continental Army suffered 3000 casualties together with the loss of cannons and thousands of military supplies. The Americans are forced to retreat toward the Delaware River. Had the British carried out their threat to show no quarter to the Americans it could have changed the course of the war and led to a British victory.