After cutting down most of the trees at Stony Point to reduce cover for potential attackers and create a "field of fire" for artillery, the British constructed two sets of fortifications - the Outer Works, located near the present museum building - and the Upper Works, an unenclosed, incomplete fort located closer to the river and comprised of earth and rock formations. Both works were situated on rugged terrain that afforded commanding views. The British navy also controlled the Hudson River, and protected the Stony Point peninsula. A small gunboat guarded the shallow waters of Haverstraw Bay in the south, while the HMS Vulture patrolled the deeper water on the northern flank.
A principal feature of the Outer Works was an abatis, a wall of trees that had been felled and placed side by side on the ground and pointed toward the west, or landward side, the most likely direction of attack. This barrier, one of two built at Stony Point by the British, ran the width of the peninsula from north to south, and extended some 50 yards into the waters of Haverstraw Bay.
Artillery was positioned to defend the abatis, and troops of the 17th Regiment of Foot, as well as Grenadiers of the 71st Highland Regiment (Fraser's Highlanders), were deployed to protect the Outer Works and to repel invaders.