Fortress West Point at the United States Military Academy Fortress West Point at the United States Military Academy


Fortress West Point at the United States Military Academy
West Point, NY
Phone: (845) 938- 2638


Hours: The Visitor Center and Museum Open daily 10:30 AM - 4:15 PM

Closed: Thanksgiving,Christmas & New Year's Day

Notes: The Great Chain / Trophy Point Visitors on West Point Tours can see a part of the chain that was stretched across the Hudson River to stop British ships.

Phone: (845) 938- 2638


Historical Description:

George Washington referred to West Point as "the key of America." Although no battles were fought at West Point, it was the most strategic fort the Continental Army held. Its location and topography made it an important stronghold in preventing the British from cutting New England off from the rest of the colonies by securing the Hudson River. Engineer Bernard Romans started the first fortifications-Fort Constitution-- on Martelaer's Rock in September 1775 but did not follow the plan to build a blockhouse across the river.

After the British destroyed Forts Montgomery and Clinton on Popolopen Creek in October 1777, the key military commanders decided to fortify both sides of the river at its west point. That work began after Connecticut troops crossed the Hudson on the ice on January 27, 1778, with Colonel Louis de la Radie`re's design for Fort Clinton, Sherburne's Redoubt, and four water batteries. On April 30, Captain Thomas Machin supervised the floating of a large iron chain across the river on log rafts from West Point to Constitution Island to deter the British from trying to gain control of the river. The defenses of West Point consisted of three concentric rings of fortifications designed to support each other with firepower. The inner ring consisted of Fort Clinton/Arnold and four water batteries. The outer ring consisted of Forts Putnam, Webb, Meigs, and Wyllys; it also included Redoubts five through seven. The middle ring comprised


The Site:

A restored Fort Putnam dominates the remaining works of Fortress West Point. Ten links of the chain remain displayed on Trophy Point, and the statue of Colonel Thaddeus Kosciuszko, the Polish engineer who oversaw construction of the defensive works, stands guard over the remains of Fort Clinton/Arnold. The ruins of the other works are not on the route of visitors. An overview of the fortifications can be found in the Museum at Pershing Center in Highland Falls and in the McLean Museum at Fort Putnam.



West Point is located off Route 9W in the town of Highlands, New York. The visitor center is on your right hand side while heading towards USMA in the village of Highland Falls. Tours of West Point on buses of West Point Tours leave from here.

Research Patron: Margaret K. Johnson