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Karen Palumbo

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Blogs by Karen Palumbo

On This Day 11/18/1776
11/16/2010 6:38:28 PM

Fort Washington becomes Fort Knyphausen


In honor of Hessian Lieutenant General Wilhelm von Knyphausen, who had stormed the post five days earlier, British Commander-in-Chief General William Howe renames Fort Washington, "Fort Knyphausen".

Lieutenant General von Knyphausen and a froce of three thousand Hessian mercenaries and five thousand British Redcoats had laid siege to Fort Washington at the northern end and highest point of Manhattan Island, New York on November 16, 1776.

Throughout the morning, Lieutenant General von Knyphausen met stiff resistance from the Patriot riflemen inside, but by afternoon, the Patriots were overwhelmed, and the Garrison Commander, Colonel Robert Magaw, surrendered.

Nearly three thousand Patriots were taken prisoner, and valuable ammunition and supplies were lost to the Hessians. The prisoners faced a particularly grim fate. Many later died aboard British prison ships anchored in New York Harbor, New York.

Among the fifty-three dead and ninety-six wounded Patriots were John and Margaret Corbin of Virginia. When John Corbin died in action, his wife Margaret Corbin took over his cannon, cleaning, loading, and firing the gun until she too was severely wounded.

Margaret Corbin is the first woman known to have fought for the Continental Army. Margaret Corbin survived, but lost the use of her left arm. Two weeks earlier, one of Colonel Magaw's Officers, William Demont, had deserted the Fifty Pennsylvania Battalion and given British intelligence agents information about the Patriot defense of New York, including details about the location and defense of Fort Washington.

Officer Demont was the first traitor to the Patriot cause, and his treason contributed significantly to Lieutenant General Knyphausen's victory. Fort Washington stood at the current location of Bennet Park in the Washington Heights neighborhood of New York City, New York near the site of the George Washington Bridge, at the corner of Fort Washington Avenue and 183rd Street. Fort Washington Park and Fort Washington Point lay beneath the site along the Hudson River.



(K) (HST)




William Howe British General
Wilhelm von Knyphausen Hessian Lieutenant General
Robert Magaw American Colonel
John Corbin American Patriot
Margaret Corbin Wife of John
American Patriot
William Demont American Traitor


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