The Final Defense of Fort Washington

The Final Defense of Fort Washington

On 6 November 1776, Captain Thomas Wilkinson in Pearl achieved.

the third and last naval penetration of the lower Hudson before the British army seized the high ground at Fort Washington.

His mission was to accompany two supply ships,joseph and British Queen, to Dobbs Ferry, where the main body of the Bri rish army was then encamped.

In passing the American batteries, Pearl sustained extensive but not crippling damage, with one man killed and several wounded.

Since Wilkinson’s mission was time driven, he could not wait upon an optimal conjunction of wind and tide.

The Final Defense of Fort Washington With three hours of flood remaining he started his upriver run at 3 PM.

He had only just gotten out of range when contrary tides brought him to a halt.

Ir took Wilkinson about 29 hours, two changes of tide, and heavy use of the ships’ boats to cover the ten miles to Dobbs Ferry.

At the battle of Fort Washington on 16 November, Pearl came downriver to provide fire support for the army,

which attacked the Americans in overwhelming numbers from the north, south and east.

Captain Benjamin Caldwell in Emerald, 28 guns, came upriver under orders to cut off any Americans attempting to retreat across the river.

From 7 to 10:30 AM, Pearl, riding on her cables, “raked the woods” on Mount Washington’s north face, but soon,

“much damaged” in her hull and rigging, she weighed anchor and returned upriver.

Caldwell came abreast of Fort Washington’s lower defensive lines at 9AM.

As soon as he observed the Americans wheeling cannon into position to engage him at sea level, he immediately warped back down river.

Both Pearl and Emerald left the scene before the ground attack began in earnest.

Four days after taking Fort Washington, General Howe ordered his second in command, General Charles Cornwallis,

The Final Defense of Fort Washington to cross the Hudson with 5,000 men and attack Washington’s army in New Jersey.

After landing at Closter dock, a few miles north of Fort Lee, the British slogged up a steep narrow path to the crest of the Palisades.

Within hours, Cornwallis had driven the Americans from Fort Lee.

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