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Van Cortlandt Park

Gun Hill Meadow

This text is part of Parks’ Historical Signs Project and can be found posted within the park.

Gun Hill Meadow is named for a January 25, 1777 Revolutionary War battle that took place near this site. Gun Hill Road, then known as Kingsbridge Road, was an important east-west thoroughfare, which the British and the Americans fought fiercely to control. During the battle, the British were chasing the Patriots east towards the river. While in retreat, a group of soldiers, led by Captain Bryant of the artillery, dragged a cannon atop a nearby hill and fired upon the charging Brits. That strategic position, which then became known as “Gun Hill,” forced the Brits to retreat west to Kingsbridge, allowing the Patriots to escape.

Originally, a Native American trail ran along the path of Gun Hill Road, which is just south of the meadow. It was known as Kingsbridge Road by early settlers because it led to the King’s Bridge and the Kingsbridge settlement. The route was a vital path for the Patriots because it was one of the only crossings to Manhattan at the time. It became known as Gun Hill Road around 1875 to commemorate Captain Bryant’s exploits. The actual Gun Hill is located in what is now Woodlawn Cemetery.

Bronx Parks are the sites of several Revolutionary War battles. In the Battle of Pell’s Point, which took place in today’s Pelham Bay Park on October 18, 1776, Colonel John Glover successfully safeguarded General George Washington’s retreat to White Plains with a small band of Patriots against a large British force. General Washington also spent time in the Van Cortlandt Mansion, in today’s Van Cortlandt Park while his troops camped on the site of the Parade Grounds. On August 31, 1778, in Van Cortlandt Park, Chief Abraham Ninham and 17 Mohicans from Stockbridge, Massachusetts, crossed British lines and traveled along the Mile Square Road, today’s Van Cortlandt Park East. They soon found themselves surrounded by British and Hessian troops who captured them, taking the band of Indians to the Van Cortlandt Woods. Chief Ninham and the 17 other Mohicans were killed in the subsequent battle.

Gun Hill Meadow is located in Van Cortlandt Park and is bounded by the Mosholu Golf Course, West Gun Hill Road, and Jerome Avenue. The Wiechquaskeck Lenapes Native American tribe occupied this site in 1639 when the Dutch East India Company brought the first European settlers to the Bronx. The Van Cortlandt name became associated with the tract of land bounded by modern Yonkers City Line between Broadway, Jerome Avenue, and Van Cortlandt Park East in 1699, when Jacobus Van Cortlandt bought the property. Jacobus’s son Frederick built the Van Cortlandt Mansion in 1748 and the family occupied the land until the 1880s. The City of New York acquired this parkland in 1888. The 11-acre Gun Hill Meadow was part of the Mosholu Golf Course until 1989, when it was reconstructed for passive park use.

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