Protection of the Hudson River

Protection of the Hudson River (HM4SH)

Location: Fort Lee, NJ 07024 Bergen County
Country: United States of America

N 40° 51.153', W 73° 57.651'

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On July 12th, 1776, the British warships Phoenix and Rose sailed beneath the unarmed Bluff Rock, later named Fort Lee. This provocative action led Congress to order General Washington "By every art and whatever expense to obstruct effectively the navigation of the river."

Washington soon adopted General Putnam's plan for blockading the river by sinking stone-filled ships' hulls chained together with protruding jagged spikes.

A series of ships was sunk, joined stern to stern 70 feet apart with three or more iron tipped, spiked logs fastened to each hull. The hulls were submerged just beneath the water so that the spiked logs became turned upward to expose their menacing hazards to passing ships, forming a 280-foot sub-surface barrier.

Although a fast-moving frigate might successfully pierce the blockade, damage to the vessel could be extensive. Just as importantly, ships attempting to pass would at least be slowed giving gunners on the river's heights and opportunity to aim broadside fire at their targets.

On the night of August 4th, General Mifflin's troops at Fort Washington worked on river obstructions when "Four ships, chained and boomed, with a number of amazing large Chevaux-De-Frise, were carefully sunk close by the fort."

"Chevaux-De-Frise" describes the field emplacements used by horseless, 16th century Dutch warriors who stopped the mounted Spanish army at Friesland using trees fashioned into spikes with jagged-edged sides. The Dutch called these implements of war, "The Horses of Friesland." Translated by the French, they became known as the "Chevaux-De-Frise."
HM NumberHM4SH
Placed ByFort Lee Historic Park
Marker ConditionNo reports yet
Date Added Tuesday, September 9th, 2014 at 2:14pm PDT -07:00
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Locationbig map
UTM (WGS84 Datum)18T E 587589 N 4522908
Decimal Degrees40.85255000, -73.96085000
Degrees and Decimal MinutesN 40° 51.153', W 73° 57.651'
Degrees, Minutes and Seconds40° 51' 9.18" N, 73° 57' 39.06" W
Driving DirectionsGoogle Maps
Area Code(s)201
Closest Postal AddressAt or near 4301 Henry Hudson Dr, Fort Lee NJ 07024, US
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