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Inwood Hill Park

Fort Cockhill

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

In the summer and fall of 1776, New York was the primary battlefield of the war for America's independence. At stake were the City's strategic harbor and inland waterways, especially the Hudson River. By controlling the Hudson Valley, the British hoped to prevent the armies of New England and the South from combining into a unified force.

Among the many forts built in New York by the Continental Army, three were located on the heights of northern Manhattan that overlook the Hudson River, allowing the army to direct their cannon fire at enemy ships below. The largest of the three was Fort Washington, which stood atop the highest point on Manhattan Island, at today's 184th Street. Situated to the north of Fort Washington were two of its outworks, Fort Tryon and Fort Cockhill.

Fort Cockhill stood on this hilltop, overlooking the mouth of Spuyten Duyvil Creek at its confluence with the Hudson. It was a small, five-sided earthen structure equipped with two cannons. On the morning of November 16, 1776, Fort Cockhill was attacked and captured by a battalion of Hessian (German) Grenadiers that served in the British Army. After taking Fort Cockhill, the Hessians hauled heavy guns and a howitzer to the top of the hill and fired on the American defenders at Fort Tryon. Fort Tryon was taken after heroic resistance by its greatly outnumbered defenders.

A short while later, the commander of Fort Washington, General Magaw, surrendered to attackers and the battle was over. The Americans were overwhelmed by the numerical superiority of the British-Hessian force and the effectiveness of their attack. It was a devastating defeat, in which the Patriots lost almost 3,000 troops, 2,800 of whom were taken as prisoners. Most of the captives died in prison as victims of deprivation and exposure.

In July of 1781, Washington and his generals surveyed the forts of northern Manhattan from nearby points in the Bronx, apparently preparing to attack New York again and to reclaim their captured forts. By that time Fort Cockhill showed signs of neglect, as reflected in Washington's observation that "the fort on Cox's Hill was in bad repair and but little dependence placed on it. There is neither ditch nor friezing, and the northeast corner appears quite easy of access." This attack never materialized, but the preparations for it served to divert British attention and resources away from the upcoming battle at Yorktown, Virginia, the deciding battle of the Revolutionary War.

While the British surrender at Yorktown on October 19, 1781 ended the active phase of the war, British military forces continued to occupy New York City until November 25, 1783. On that date, later known as Evacuation Day, General Washington was present to reclaim possession of the city he was forced to abandon in 1776. His reentry route from Inwood to the Battery took him past Forts Cockhill, Tryon and Washington, this time in triumph.

Directions to Inwood Hill Park

Know Before You Go

There are currently 2 service interruptions affecting access within this park.

Baseball FieldsInwood Hill Park

Reconstruction work at the Little League Baseball field will correct existing uneven ball field elevations and will provide a sod infield and outfield. A Scorekeeper’s Box will be installed, player dugout areas will be enlarged and will received new concrete floors, and a clay ‘warning track’ will be installed along the perimeter of the outfield fence to assist playing conditions and maintenance mowing in this area. New bases, clay storage boxes, skinned playing areas and painting and reconstruction of perimeter fencing and backstop areas will also be provided. A metal container will provide secure storage for playing and maintenance equipment with an enclosed player’s warm-up area nearby. New ADA accessible bleachers and an elevated turf viewing area are also being installed to provide seating and viewing areas for the playing field.
Anticipated Completion: Summer 2014

Nature CentersInwood Hill Nature Center

Due to the effects of Hurricane Sandy, this facility is closed until further notice.

Inwood Hill Park Weather

  • Fri
    Sunny
    38°F
  • Sat
    Mostly Sunny
    41°F
  • Sun
    Slight Chc Rain
    55°F
  • Mon
    Chance Showers
    65°F

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