Once the British captured New York City, in 1776, the natural defenses of the Hudson Highlands sheltered the Continental Army for the remainder of the war, except for a few weeks, in the fall of 1777. Many of the homes in the valley were used as military headquarters. Typically, the soldiers stayed in tents during mild weather and constructed log huts for the winter. The highest ranking officers vied with each other to stay in the most comfortable houses available. In the sparsely populated Highlands, there were few places large enough to accommodate the generals and their retinue, without being a major burden on the property owner, who often continued living in the house. Learn about the role of these headquarters and the interaction between the army and their often reluctant hosts.
The formal presentation, at the New Windsor Cantonment, from 1:00 to 2:00 PM, will give visitors the background of the American military presence, in the Hudson Valley, during the Revolutionary War. General George Washington made his headquarters at the home of the widow Hasbrouck, south of Newburgh. The modest fieldstone home was used for 16 months, the longest occupation of any headquarters by Washington. Constructed in 1754, the elegant John Ellison house was the military headquarters for Quartermaster General Nathanael Greene and artillery commander General Henry Knox, in 1779. Knox returned in 1780-81 and over the summer of 1782. Appointed commander of the army at New Windsor, in October 1782, General Horatio Gates, victor of the Battle of Saratoga, resided there from November 1782-April 1783. First billeted at the Edmonston House, Gates complained directly to Washington that “your Excellency’s dog kennel at Mount Vernon, is as good a Quarter as that I am now in.” If the Edmonston House was any where near as bad as Gates intimated, it was fortunate that the New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York and Maryland Detachment commander, at the New Windsor Cantonment, General Arthur St. Clair, the next occupant, spent much of the winter of 1782-83 home on furlough.
From 2:00 to 5:00 PM, visitors are invited to visit Washington’s Headquarters State Historic Site on Liberty Street, in Newburgh, New York, Knox’s Headquarters, at the intersection of Route 94 and Forge Hill Road, in Vails Gate and Edmonston House, located on Route 94, west of the Vails Gate intersection with Routes 32 and 300. There is a small fee to tour Washington’s Headquarters and the Edmonston House. For more information please call New Windsor Cantonment at (845) 561-1765 ext. 22. New Windsor Cantonment is co-located with the National Purple Heart Hall of Honor on Route 300 (374 Temple Hill Road) in the Town of New Windsor, four miles east of Stewart Airport. It is three miles from the intersection of I-87 and I-84 in Newburgh, New York.