overlooked in the great sweep of history as
being the central battleground of the American
Revolution, the Hudson Valley determined the
success or failure of the Colonial States in
their quest for independence from Great Britain.
Strategically, the Hudson River was the only
navigable river into the interior of the continent
and its location empowered whoever controlled
it to either allow or prevent commerce between
the northern Colonies and those in the south.
Should the British have been able to gain control
of the Hudson, the outcome of the war would
surely have been different.
the British spent great time, effort and resources
attempting to gain control of the mighty Hudson
River just so they could control the commercial
trade routes between north and south. Their
first act in the war was to take Manhattan and
drive General Washington and his continental
troups north chasing them up to White Plains
and forcing them across the river. In a massive
effort, they then descended south from Canada
under the command of Gen. Burguoyne, down through
Lake Champlain, down the Hudson battling the
colonists at every turn. Finally at Saratoga,
Burguoyne lost his momentum and was defeated
and captured, bringing the battle over the northern
Hudson to a close.
the war, various fortifications and sites in
Orange County were pivotal in the efforts of
Washington and his troops to stay the British
and prevent them from coming up into the Hudson
Valley. Chief among these locations was West
Point, site of the major fortifications along
the Hudson and commanded by Benedict Arnold.
Washington himself spent more time in the Hudson
Valley and Orange County than any other location
in the colonies during the war years. And as
the war drew to a close, it was Orange County
that Washington chose as his last staging ground
for his troops and his entorage to insure the
British didn't attempt a run up the Hudson before
the final treaties could be signed.
County is rich in Revolutionary sites ranging
from the mundane of camp life for enlisted men
right up Washington's final residence prior
to his resigning from the Continental Army.
As individual places, they do not overwhelm
the visitor with their grandeur or the role
they played in the struggle for independence.
Collectively, they should overwhelm the visitor
in significance to their daily lives and how
different America would be today were it not
for the foresight, diligence and sacrifice made
to hold and defend these places in Orange County.
of the Continental Army were housed in local
residences around the New Windsor and Vails
Gate area during the final encampment of the
Continentals there. As "gentlemen"
they expected better accommodations and finer
food than were dolled out to the enlisted men.
In the area many of these old houses still exist,
but remain in private hands and are still private
residences. The house that General Knox and
several other officers stayed in has become
a New York State Park and Historic Site.
the house is a trip back into the 18th century
as the interiors have been restored to an accurate
representation of their condition at the time.
Guides take you through the house, explaining
the houses prior history, who General Knox was
as well as the other officers who stayed at
the house, what they did and how it all fits
together with the massive army encampment at
New Windsor and Vails Gate. From Washington's
Headquarters, the road, now Route 94, ran down
the river and swung inland past the residences
of the officers. The road then went further
west where the armies themselves could be found
encamped on either side.
house is an example of the officers lives at
this time. The guides are very informative and
knowledgable on the times and what they meant.
They engage the kids in the tour trying to bring
their interests to bear on what they are seeing.
The furnishings and restorations are accurate
and depict the house as it would have been inhabited
by General Washington's officers.