In late May 1779, a British force of more than 6000 men captured the Hudson River and the small American fort at Verplanck's Point on the opposite shore. These strategic locations guarded the southern entrance to the Hudson Highlands. The British also took possession of King's Ferry, which crossed between these two peninsulas and gave the Americans a direct route between New England and the states to the south.
Having thus improved their access to a vital maritime highway - the Hudson River - the British were also in position to attack the American fortress at West Point, only 12 miles north, but they had a more important objective. General Sir Henry Clinton had been directed to draw "Mr. Washington," the Continental Army, out of their winter quarters in Middlebrook, New Jersey, and into a "general and decisive action" that would end the rebellion. The British had already launched raids against the Connecticut coast in a vain attempt to lure Washington into battle and restore the King's rule to the rebellious colonies.
It was essential that the Americans take immediate action to oppose both the British occupation of Stony Point and their presence in this vital military area.