Defending West Point: The Revolutionary War in the Hudson River Valley – 1777 to 1783

Wednesday, May 2 (7:00pm) – Saturday, May 5, 2018 (5:00pm)

Tour Leaders: James Kirby Martin, Lt. Col. Sean Scully and Bruce Venter

HQ: Fishkill, NY

Conference Registration: $495 

West Point was a major fortified installation during the American Revolution. Its purpose was to prevent the British from controlling the Hudson River and dividing New England from the rest of the country. Benedict Arnold’s plot to sell West Point in 1780 is undoubtedly the most famous story associated with New York’s lower Hudson River Valley region. But many other events occurred during the period 1777 thru 1783 in this area.
Our first day will be spent on the grounds of the United States Military Academy at West Point where we will visit Fort Putnam (pictured above), a fortification built in 1778 to support Fort Clinton (formerly called Fort Arnold) on the point. We will also visit Redoubt No. 4, a key defensive position built 300 feet above Fort Putnam. “The possession of the Hill appears to me essential to the preservation of the whole post and our main effort ought to be directed to keeping the enemy off of it…” George Washington wrote in July 1779, vindicating Tadeusz Kosciuszko’s decision to place a redoubt on Rocky Hill. We will also see the remains of Fort Clinton near the river. In the afternoon we’ll board a boat to travel to Constitution Island, another link in the Patriot defenses of the Hudson River. Constitution Island was the earliest Revolutionary War fortification in the Hudson Valley. Taken briefly by the British in 1777, the island was re-occupied by American forces in 1778, serving as an integral part of the Patriot strategic position.

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Leatherstocking Country: A Successful Combination of America’s History with Literature

Bruce Venter

Our July tour entitled Leatherstocking Tales: The Real Historic Sites of James Fenimore Cooper’s Novels proved to be a good bet as we combined familiar titles (and some not so familiar) from American literature with the historic sites that influenced the famous American author. I wasn’t sure how this concept would play when I first conceived it sometime last year, but finding the right tour leader made all the difference. Dr. Wayne Franklin, professor of English and department head at the University of Connecticut proved to be “the man” when it comes to Cooper expertise. Wayne did a fantastic job, demonstrating not only a knowledge of Cooper’s writings but also being familiar with the historical background of 18th and 19th century sites and personalities which influenced Cooper. Wayne has Albany, NY roots as does your humble blogger, so we were able to reminisce about the city’s rich, colorful political history which we shared in common. We had a great, mixed group of participants who came because of their interest in Cooper as well as American history. As always, there were a number of repeat customers along with some new faces. Wayne also brought along his lovely wife, Suzanne who provided much enjoyable conversation. It was great to have my cousin, Ann O’Brien Teta with us. One of America’s History’s tour leaders, Bill Welsch also joined the tour.

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