During the night of the attack, Captain Francis Tew was stationed near the abatis with four companies of the 17th Regiment, part of the total British garrison of 564 men. On this spot, a small defensive position called flech #2 had been constructed, and contained two Cohorn mortars - weapons which fired explosive shells in a high arc - to guard the approach to the Outer Works.
Stony Point was bounded on the west by a marsh that turned the peninsula into an island at high tide. At about midnight, and officer's picket - part of the group of 88 sentries on duty - heard the advancing Americans, fired warning shots, and then retreated. Lieutenant William Simpson, of Tew's company, described the events that followed:
About ten minutes later I heard a party of about 30 men in confusion on my right, and imagined them to be British Troops, but found my mistake by being wounded and taken prisoner. Soon after being made prisoner by this party, Lieutenant Colonel Johnson [the commander of Stony Point] came up, having from the extreme darkness of the night also mistaken them for our own people. He endeavored to give them some orders ? to face the damned rascals!" They challenged him saying "Damn ye, who are you?" One or more of them I saw charge the Colonel with their Bayonets ? the Colonel perceiving his error, narrowly escaped.