New York & New Jersey Campaign > Battle of Fort Lee

Battle of Fort Lee

Background

The Battle of Fort Lee on November 20, 1776 marked the successful invasion of New Jersey by British and Hessian forces and the subsequent general retreat of the Continental Army during the American Revolutionary War.

Peter Bourdette's sixteen-year-old son, also named Peter, provided assistance by direct use of the landing. During the week leading up to the evacuation of Fort Lee[5] he rowed back and forth across the river gathering information for General Washington on the anticipated movements of the British forces.[9] Well after dark on the night before the battle for New York at Fort Washington, George Washington was rowed from Burdett's Landing to the middle of the Hudson River for a strategy session with his senior officers in charge of New York, who rowed to meet him.[7][10] On November 16, 1776 George Washington witnessed the battle for New York from across the river on the bluff of Fort Lee, above Burdett's Landing.

British Invasion

Fort Lee was rendered defenseless after Continental Army troops holding Fort Washington were defeated and captured on November 16, 1776. The Royal Navy controlled the Hudson River. General William Howe ordered Charles Cornwallis to "clear the rebel troops from New Jersey without a major engagement, and to do it quickly before the weather changed."[12] The force included Hessian units commanded by Colonel Carl von Donop.[13] The invasion of New Jersey began the night of November 19–20, when 5,000 British troops ferried across the Hudson on barges and began landing near New Dock Landing (present-day Alpine). George Washington and Nathanael Greene quickly ordered the evacuation of the fort on the morning of November 20, 1776.

American Retreat

The soldiers then began a hasty retreat west, crossing the Hackensack River at New Bridge Landing and the Passaic River at Acquackanonk Bridge[15][16][17][18][19] It was during Washington's retreat (beginning along a road which is now Main Street)[20][21] that Thomas Paine composed his pamphlet, "The American Crisis", which began with the recognized phrase, "These are the times that try men's souls.

New York & New Jersey Campaign Battles

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