Henry Livingston, Jr.
Henry Livingston's Prose

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General George Washington viewed the Hudson River as key to the Patriots' victory in the War of Independence, and so did commanders of the Royal Navy. If the British could control the mighty river from Quebec to New York Harbor, Washington knew they could sever the northeastern colonies from the rest of the floundering states, closing off crucial communication lines and supply transports.

"Every attempt was made to encumber the British navy and army on that route," said Lincoln Diamant, author of Chaining the Hudson, a chronicle of the fight for the river during the American Revolution. "Washington pointed out more than once that this was a very important part of the world. From a military point of view, it was the center of the revolution."

So, the American colonists went to great lengths to block the powerful British naval force from sailing upriver. In 1776, they adapted an old Dutch defense and sank large wooden bulwarks anchored by heavy rocks in a row across the river. Linked by heavy wooden chains, the structures, called chevaux-de-frise, were topped with iron spears designed to pierce the hulls of passing British ships.


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