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was also applied, as we have previously stated, in a general way to the other heights bordering on Harlem Plains, and its employment to designate the engagement does not necessarily locate it near Trinity cemetery,
There are several other statements in Dr. Emmet's article which do not affect the question of the site of the battle of Harlem, but which may be commented upon.
There is no contemporary evidence that the earthworks which crossed the Bloomingdale Road near Grant's Tomb were thrown up during the Revolution. They were made in 1814, as shown by Gen. Swift's manuscript report and maps in the library of the New York Historical Society.
As to the route of the escaping Americans from the lower part of the island September 15, a critical examination of all available authorities disproves Dr. Emmet's claim that they all passed through McGown's Pass. Only Smallwood's detachment of Marylanders and the detachment at Horn's Hook which they were expressly detailed to cover, with possibly a few scattered fugitives, escaped by this route. All the rest, except the few who crossed the river to New Jersey, retreated by the North River road.
The boundary of Harlem towards New York City was a line drawn due South from about 130th Street on the Hudson River, to 74th Street on the East River. The line cut through Morningside Heights at about 112th Street. West of this line on the Hudson side lay De Key's triangular property, embracing all the heights south to about 105th Street. The common land to which Dr. Emmet refers, was not Harlem Plains or Flats, but a triangular space west of the line, mostly in Central Park. Therefore, Harlem Commons are totally different in location and character from the Flats or Plain.
It would be interesting to know the exact location of the ravine near Trinity cemetery to which Dr. Emmet refers. The only one, viz.: 158th Street, is to the north of the cemetery site, which would have involved the British making their way past a mile and a half of precipitous hillsides swarming with riflemen. Dr. Emmet then takes the British over the hilltop, across to Breakneck Hill on the King's Way, which is, however, at 147th Street. Trinity cemetery has no ravine in it, and its south side was the most abrupt and easily defensible part of the Heights; for which reason the second line of defence was there constructed and defended on November 16. If the British got in on that side of the heights on September 16, how is it that the Americans, later on, constructed no defences against a landing at the same spot? The 158th Street ravine lay half way between lines Nos. 2 and 3. And if the British got that far, halfway to Fort Washington, why were two lines, of the American defences of Fort Washington on the south, drawn across the heights south of that
Richards' account, preceding Dr. Emmet's and referred to by him, fits in exactly with the location of the fight of September 16 as described in Prof. Johnston's monograph. As to the burying incident mentioned by Richards, the evident reference is to the bodies having been brought into camp, that is, probably to 147th Street, up the King's Way from the Hollow Way, and the burial was probably at the sheltered bend near 145th Street. They may be under St. Nicholas Park yet.
In the postcript the Doctor refers to the Hessian advance under Knyphausen on November 16, as being from McGown's Pass. On the contrary, Knyphausen's men came from Kingsbridge and Fordham, and General Stirn's Hessian brigade on the south came over Columbia or Morningside Heights to the south end of Washington Heights, as shown by the British map before referred to.
In conclusion, we may renew our firm conviction, derived from a careful study of contemporary documents and British maps, and personal familiarity with local topography, that the site of the Battle of Harlem was in the Hollow Way of Manhattan and on the Heights of Morningside.
REGINALD PELHAM BOLTON,
(Mr. Hall is Secretary of the American Scenic and Historic Preservation Society, Mr. Bolton a trustee of the same Society, and both are members of the New York Historical Society. Their painstaking historical and archæological work, both in literature and in the field, is well-known and gives weight to their article.)
DR. EMMET'S REJOINDER
[I thank the editor of the MAGAZINE of History for giving me the opportunity of reading the article of Messrs. Hall and Bolton before publication.-T. A. E.]
The object in writing my paper was to call attention to the uncertainty existing with many as to the exact locality of Harlem Heights, on and in the neighborhood of which the battle of September 16, 1776, was fought. I hope the subject will be investigated by those in doubt at greater length than these gentlemen seem to have done. I cannot undertake to do more than may be covered by this letter. I have neither the strength, the authorities at hand for investigation, nor the time, as within a few days I go South for the winter.
Messrs. Hall and Bolton may have quoted correctly the authorities cited by them, but they have not represented correctly my views, and from their paper it is evident they did not read mine with sufficient care to ascertain what I did write.
In the first instance, I did not misstate the relative position of the English and American lines, for I was correct, and we agree fully. I did not hold that the Battle of Harlem was fought in the vicinity of 155th Street, but that a flank movement was attempted in the neighborhood of what I suppose is the present site of Trinity cemetery. I was explicit in showing that the battle was, in my judgment, fought below the site of the present Convent of the Sacred Heart, at the Point of Rocks and along the irregular line of high ground to the north of the plain to the east of Manhattanville.
In this connection, I will state my belief that after all the excavating, nothing can be judged at the present time with accuracy as to where this line extended at the time of the battle. When I was a boy, the Point of Rocks extended so far to the south that it must have almost reached the line of the street now extending eastward from the foot of Claremont Heights. I recollect at one point on the road from Manhattanville to Harlem, this Point of Rocks seemed to almost shut out the valley and view of Manhattanville.
Again, I did not state I remembered seeing some intrenchments in the vicinity of Trinity cemetery, but I described the line of earthworks I saw as being in connection with those on the Point of Rocks.
I did not state that the Americans were encamped on Morningside Heights, nor on any portion of the high land to the south of the plain. On the contrary, I labored to show they could have been nowhere else but to the north of the extremity of the Point of Rocks, and all I wrote was in relation to the article published in the Evening Post. If in this connection there be anything in Lieut. Richards' account as quoted in the Post which "fits in exactly” from the standpoint of these gentlemen, as to the fight being on the Morningside Heights, it is certainly a mis-fit. I agree with them that the English troops, described by Richards as forming in line at sunrise at the foot of McGown's Pass, were not likely to have attempted to scale Morningside Heights. The fact of this force being at the foot of McGown's Pass goes to prove that they were there to cross the plain and make an attack on the American line, within which Richards' Connecticut regiment was stationed; and as he was with his regiment, which took part in the fight, it becomes evident that the battle was fought about the point of Rocks.
If Morningside Height to Claremont, then held by the British, formed a part of Harlem Heights, and the American forces also held a portion of Harlem Heights to the north, it seems evident that the order to General Lee (referred to in my first article) would have been more explicit. The resolution of Congress, passed October 17, 1776, was: “Resolved, That General Lee be directed to repair to the camp on the Heights of Harlem, with leave, &c.” The wording can only be construed from a logical point, as showing that the heights below Fort Washington were the Harlem Heights, and there could have been no other Harlem Heights but those occupied by the American forces.
The only foundation for any fighting on the heights to the south, rests on an encounter lasting but a few moments. Knowlton, before daylight, was sent by Washington, with a single company of his command, to get on the left flank of the British troops encamped on Vandewater Heights, and to reach that position by ascending the Hudson River bank at some distance to the south of the present grounds of Columbia University. Washington had received information that the enemy was forming in force at McGown's Pass for an attack, and Knowlton was, by this means, to cause a diversion, if possible, with the object of retarding the general movement. Unfortunately Knowlton's presence was discovered as soon as he reached the brow of the ascent, and he was forced to make a hasty retreat. Knowlton's party was followed down to the water by a body of the enemy, which crossed the valley to the north, and later in the day attempted a flank movement by ascending a ravine, and was repulsed as described in my paper. This encounter of Knowlton's at daylight on Vandewater Heights, I assert can scarcely be termed a skirmish nor be considered as part of the battle of Harlem Heights, as the battle did not begin until late in the day, and lasted three or four hours. Moreover, the place of Knowlton's encounter was so far to the south of the Harlem line (possibly as far south as 94th Street) as to render it impossible to show any connection with Harlem Heights, the grounds of Columbia University, or Morningside Heights. I do not propose, nor is it necessary, to enter into any further detail of the battle, my only purpose, as already stated, being to locate the Harlem Heights on which and about which, the battle of Harlem was fought.
To show the confusion which exists as to this locality, even in the minds of Messrs. Hall and Bolton, I will quote a statement made in their paper: “The hill on which the most desperate fighting took place is identified by Major Lewis Morris, Jr., who wrote to his father on September 28: ‘Monday morning an advanced party, Col. Knowlton's regiment, was attacked upon a height a little to the southwest of Day's tavern.' Day's tavern was on the line of the present 126th Street, two hundred feet west of Eighth Avenue. This locates the fight on Morningside Heights,” etc. I do not know what relation the site of Day's tavern may bear to Eighth Avenue, but I do know that it had no relation whatever with the noted buckwheat field near the Columbia grounds, nor with Morningside Heights. My recollection is quite clear in recalling the facts of the site of Day's tavern on the east side of the road, extending from McGown's Pass, along the foot of the present Morningside Heights to King's Bridge. It was situated some distance to the northeast of the Point of Rocks, and Morris's statement was correct. The Point of Rocks and other intrenchments on the different hills, forming the American line in this neighborhood, were "a little to the southwest of Day's tavern." I believe the tavern was a mile to the north of any portion of Morningside Heights, and at this advanced point, Knowlton with the Connecticut troops were stationed, in the most direct line for the enemy from McGown's Pass.
Having reached this point in my task, which proved a fatiguing one, I was prompted to consult Mrs. Lamb's History of New York City, it being the only work in my present library from which I could obtain any