Chaining the HudsonEarly in the Revolutionary War, the Continental Congress realized that if the British controlled the Hudson River, they could divide the rebellious colonies. To prevent this, in march 1776, the Americans began construction of Fort Montgomery above Popolopen Creek on the west side of the Hudson River. Their work soon expanded to iclude a second fort, Fort Clinton, on the south side of the creek, and a massive iron chain that stretched across the Hudson River.
Lieutenant Thomas Machin, one of the Continental Army's most able engineers, directed the work on the forts and the chain. During two separate attempts, the chain quickly broke under the strain of the ebb tide. Convinced that the chain could still work, Machin had the damage repaired and successfully stretched it across the river in March 1777.
British ships never tested the chain. Rather, the British captured the forts on October 6, 1777 and cut the chain the following day. Today, Fort Montgomery State Historic Site is open to the public and interprets the story of the forts and battle.