Gravel Hill/Greaton's Battery and Hill Cliff Battery
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Constitution Island Fortifications

West Point Fortifications


The Great Chain 

Hudson River

Marsh


 Sources and Author's Note   

West Point Fortifications Staff Ride Note Cards 16
USMA History Department 2d Edition, March 1998
Gravel Hill Battery (1776-77)

´ Purpose: Enabled cannon to engage ships at longer ranges as they attempted to negotiate S-curve.
´ Construction
- Recommended by Nicoll, Drake, and Palmer report (commissioned by NY Congress to inspect RomansÝ progress). . .emphasized keeping the construction simple
 
 

- Represents shift away from the European -style bastions to cheaper and more practical fortifications (sod and fascines) and shift to eastern portion of island.
 
 

- Construction ordered by Congress on 15 Feb 1776 to remedy weakness in RomansÝ plan - built
Apr-May 1776
- Continued construction after shift of effort to southern chokepoint
- Parapets of logs or fascines (wooden bundles) filled with gravel and soil and probably covered
with sod. Parapets averaged 10Ý width, two embrasure still visible.
- May have had a defensive ditch in front of parapet
- Probably mounted eleven 18 or 12pdrs
´ Destroyed in 1777, rebuilt in 1778 as GreatonÝs Battery to protect the eastern end of the Great Chain.
Mounted five 6 pdrs and one 9 pdr. Constructed hurriedly. . .completed before Greaton departed in Jul
1778.
´ Significance of bend in river
- Engagement Area (or kill zone) created by dead water, not the narrow river
- Becalmed ships had to ýkedgeţ (tow) move upstream
- Slow process maximized time under fire from shore



West Point Fortifications Staff Ride Note Cards 17
USMA History Department 2d Edition, March 1998

GreatonÝ s Battery (1778)

´ Purpose: To protect the eastern end of the Great Chain.
´ Located on site of old Gravel Hill battery
´ Probably held in place much like Gravel Hill battery with earthen parapets and timber or fascines.
´
Construction began in May 1778
´ Contained five 6-pdrs and one 9-pdr as early as Jun 1778
´ Only battery on island during DuportailÝs inspection in Aug 1779.
´ Manpower: 60 men recommended by Duportail in 1779



West Point Fortifications Staff Ride Note Cards 18
USMA History Department 2d Edition, March 1998

Hill Cliff Battery

´ PURPOSE: Construction recommended by Nicoll, Drake, and Palmer report (commissioned by NY
Congress to inspect RomansÝ progress) specifically to prevent Fort and Gravel Hill Battery from being
enveloped and to maintain the LOC between them.
´ Recommended by Romans in his revised plan to correct deficiencies of Fort Constitution (1775)
´ Built in May 1776 with scarp materials as part of the extension of fortifications east from Fort
Constitution
- Position complemented Gravel Hill Battery
- Designed to be completely enclosed, but doubtful that it occurred
´ CONSTRUCTION
- Only rampart remains, 26Ý width x 77Ý length
- Scarp wall of dry masonry with a slight talus
- Small stone wall down hill forward of battery may have been to obstruct an assault from the
river
- Designed to mount only four 4-pdr cannon
´ Not rebuilt after destruction in 1777.



 
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