Primary tabs

Report of the Committee who were sent to the Fortifications in the Highlands


Die Lunae, 10 ho˙ A˙ M˙, December 18, 1775.

Present: John Herring, Esq˙, President, pro tem.

For New-York. — Colonel McDougall, Mr˙ Beekman, Mr˙ Brasher, Mr˙ Roosevelt, Mr˙ Scott, Mr˙ Ray, Mr˙ Sands, Mr˙ Rutgers.

Albany. — Colonel Rensselaer, Capt˙ Cuyler, Mr˙ Gansevoort, Mr˙ Bleecker.

Dutchess. — Mr˙ Humphreys, Mr˙ Schenck.

Suffolk. — Mr˙ Tredwell, Mr˙ Wickham, Mr˙ Gelston.

Orange. — Mr˙ Hay, Mr˙ Herring, Mr˙ Clowes.

Ulster. — Mr˙ Wynkoop, Mr˙ Cantine, Mr˙ Palmer.

Westchester. — Mr˙ Graham, Mr˙ Lockwood.

Tryon. — Mr˙ J˙ Moore.

No other Members appearing, and Dutchess and Westchester not being a quorum, the Congress could not proceed to business, and adjourned till three o' clock this afternoon.

Die Lunae, 3 ho˙ P˙ M˙, December 18, 1775.

The Congress met pursuant to adjournment.

Present: John Herring, Esq˙, President, pro tem.

For New-York. — Mr˙ Sands, Colonel McDougall, Mr˙ Ray, Mr˙ Rutgers, Mr˙ Imlay, Mr˙ Scott, Colonel Brasher.

Albany. — Colonel Rensselaer, Capt˙ Cuyler, Mr˙ Gansevoort, Mr˙ Bleecker.

Dutchess. — Mr˙ Humphreys, Mr˙ Schenck.

Suffolk. — Mr˙ Wickham, Mr˙ Tredwell, Mr˙ Gelston.

Orange. — Mr˙ Herring, Colonel Hay, Mr˙ Clowes.

Ulster. — Mr˙ Wynkoop, Mr˙ Cantine, Mr˙ Palmer.

Westchester. — Dr˙ Graham, Mr˙ Lockwood, Mr˙ Paulding.

Tryon. — Mr˙ J˙ Moore.

King' s. — Mr˙ Vanderbilt.

Mr˙ Palmer, from the Committee who went up to the Fortifications in the Highlands, delivered in the Report of the said Committee, together with a Draft or Plan to explain the same.

The said Report was read; and being read a second time, is in the words following, to wit:

"Fort-Constitution, December 14, 1775.

"The Committee appointed by an order of the Provincial Congress, bearing date the 7th instant, to repair to the fortifications in the Highlands, and endeavour to accommodate the difference subsisting between the Commissioners for erecting said fortifications and the Engineer — and in case they should not be able to accommodate the said difference, to give such directions as they should think necessary for expediting the works of the said fortifications, in such manner as they should judge best for the publick service, and make report as well of the true cause of such difference as of all necessary facts relating to the same, and of such directions as they shall have given for expediting the said work — do Report:

"That after examining into the matters of complaint from both parties, they are of opinion that Mr˙ Romans must either have mistaken the charge committed to him by the honourable Committee of Safety, by request of the Commissioners, or, as appears from his conduct, has assumed powers with which he knew he was not intrusted; as it appears that the Commissioners objected to the manner of erecting some works that are nearly finished, and refused


their consent to the erecting of others begun, especially that called the Grand Bastion, in which we think they judged right; which, nevertheless, he was determined to carry on, declaring that they had no vote nor authority in any matters at the Post more than to furnish stores and workmen, and pay them. On the other hand, the Commissioners, from the authority with which they conceive the honourable the Provincial Congress had invested in them to erect fortifications, thought themselves responsible, in a great degree, for the misapplication of the publick moneys appropriated for that use; in which we also think they judged right; and, therefore, that Mr˙ Romans was to blame in refusing to consult the Commissioners on every matter of importance, before he attempted to carry it into execution. For further particulars, relative to this report, we refer the honourable House to the copies of the directions given to the Commissioners and Engineer.

"2d. That on observing the situation of the works erected and planned by the Engineer, we do further report, that with respect to the battery nearly finished with marling, &c˙, we find that none of the cannon can be pointed so as to obstruct any vessel in her passage up, until she passes the West-Point, one hundred or one hundred and fifty yards; and when she has passed the aforesaid battery, none can be brought to bear on her any distance up the river, especially should she border on the east shore. Upon the whole, we are of opinion no vessel would be under the command of the battery more than half the reach from the West-Point to the point of Martelaer' s Rock.

"With respect to the Grand Bastion, (so called,) we do further report, that on examination of the work still to be erected to finish the same, we find two lines which, together, will consist of a wall of three hundred feet in length, thirty feet on an average in height and in breadth, and eighteen feet high, together with another wall of like dimensions as to height and breadth, and will consist of two hundred feet in length, which is to encircle the blockhouse and join the former, which in its area is to contain bomb-proof arches of brick, and a grand magazine, which is to cover men in time of engagement, as the Engineer informed us; all which we conceive will be impracticable to complete in season, even should the expense be approved of, which in our opinion would not amount to less than eight or ten thousand pounds, and, when completed, would not affect any vessel until she came abreast with the West-Point.

"The Committee do further report, that they are of opinion, that instead of erecting the above described work, it would better answer the use and safety of the post for the present, to throw up a breastwork in the hollow of the above-mentioned area, facing the West-Point, sufficient to contain four or six cannon, and also, to erect a Barbet battery on a gravel hill, marked on the late draft of Mr˙ Romans, (H,) sufficient to mount eight large cannon, eighteen pounders, two of which, to be mounted on a short curtain facing the reach above the West-Point; the breastwork to be composed of timber, filled in with earth, with a good platform; the advantage of which will fully appear by the river draft. When this is completed, we would recommend, that a low constructed block-house be erected on an eminence abreast of the West-Point, which will serve to keep up a line of communication between the last mentioned battery and the other works.

"3d. With respect to the state of the barracks, the Committee do further report, that they find one of eighty by twenty feet, of one story, and one of one hundred by twenty feet, one-and-a-half story high, both which when cleared of workmen and labourers, will contain about three hundred men. The foundation of another barrack, eighty by twenty feet, two story high, and when completed, will contain one hundred and sixty men; this latter barrack we find will be well, covered by the eminence on which stands the block-house; the former stands much exposed to the fire of the enemy, as soon as they open the West-Point, especially the one of one hundred feet, nor would it be fully covered, in our opinion, was the expensive Grand Bastion aforesaid completely finished, agreeably to Mr˙ Romans' s plan.

"After going through with the business above reported, we went down the river in the barge as far as Pooploop' s Kill;


on our way, about three and a half miles below the fortress on the west side of the river, a landing place of easy access from the river to the height of the land above, which may be occupied by an enemy to our damage. We then proceeded, and took a view of the height and situation of the ground forming the north chop of Pooploop' s Kill, which projects itself so far into the river that the distance across to the other shore does not exceed one hundred perches. We are clearly of opinion, that this is by far the most advantageous situation in the Highlands for a fortification, as one erected on this point would command the reach of the river downwards to the point of the Dunderbarragh, being the distance of nearly three miles, and from the same point the reach upwards may be commanded as far, and is environed in its adjacent and contiguous situations with marshes and inaccessible mountains, which renders it impracticable for the enemy to land. We are, therefore, of opinion, that a battery of sixteen or eighteen guns ought to be erected on this point, and that barracks be erected there to make it a post of about one hundred and fifty or two hundred men.


The same Report being read, and the question being put thereon,

Resolved, That the Congress does agree with their Committee in the said Report; and ordered that Mr˙ Palmer draw up such further directions relating to the Fortifications necessary to be made in the Highlands, as may be necessary to be directed and resolved on by this Congress, and report the same with all convenient speed.