Battle of Pell’s Point

Re-enactors depicting Colonel John Glover’s regiment at  St. Paul’s Church, Mt. Vernon, NY.  (Photo: Tom Casey)

Re-enactors depicting Colonel John Glover’s regiment at
St. Paul’s Church, Mt. Vernon, NY. (Photo: Tom Casey)

Battle of Pell’s Point

Lexington and Concord may be famous for the “Shot Heard Round The World” – the start of the American Revolution in 1775 – but few realize that our own Pelham Bay Park played a pivotal role in the war in the fall of 1776.

In the summer of 1776, the war heated up in the present-day New York City area. The British prevailed over General George Washington’s troops on August 27 at Brooklyn Heights, in what is known as the Battle of Long Island. Washington and his men narrowly escaped to Manhattan in the fog of night, thanks to the nautical skills of a regiment from Marblehead, Massachusetts under the command of Colonel John Glover. General Washington and the Continental Army troops eventually headed north to Harlem Heights. Soon after on September 15, the Great Fire of New York burned nearly a third of the city and the British occupied New York until the end of the War.

In October 1776, General Sir William Howe and his Lieutenant Henry Clinton conceived a flanking maneuver that would surround Washington and his troops at Harlem Heights. To that end, Howe and Clinton landed their forces at Throggs Neck on October 12, but were thwarted by American fighters as they attempted to cross Westchester Creek.

General Howe tried again on October 18, touching down this time at Pell’s Point (the current-day Rodman’s Neck) in Pelham Bay Park. The brigade of nearly 4,000 British and Hessian troops proceeded to an area now part of Split Rock Golf Course. There, Howe’s forces were met by barely 800 men – Colonel Glover’s Marblehead Mariners. Glover’s stealthy plan of concealing his men behind a series of stone walls held the day. From their posts, the Americans attacked the British in successive actions that delayed Howe’s troops long enough for Washington and his forces to move safely to White Plains. Only a handful of Americans died at The Battle of Pell’s Point, while the much larger British force suffered serious casualties, estimated at 800 to 1,000 men killed or wounded.

It should be noted that the last action of the Glover’s Marblehead Mariners was its most famous – the crossing of the Delaware River in 1776. The skilled seafaring regiment ferried Washington’s army across treacherous waters for a surprise attack against Hessian forces at Trenton, New Jersey on Christmas Day. Today, remnants of the fortuitously-placed stone walls employed by Colonel Glover in The Battle of Pell’s Point remain in the Park’s golf course area, and a plaque on the huge glacier boulder called Glover’s Rock commemorates the battle.