WHITE PLAINS. FORT WASHINGTON.
OCTOBER 1–NOVEMBER 16, 1776.
FOR nearly four weeks Washington and the main body of his army remained on the heights of Harlem. The uneven npland, little more than a half-mile wide and, except at a few points, less than two hundred feet above the sea, falls away precipitously toward the Hudson; along the Harlem river it is bounded for more than two miles by walls of primitive rock or declivities steep as an escarpment. Toward Manhattanville it ended in pathless crags. There existed no highway from the south except the narrow one which, near the One Hundred and Forty-fourth street, yet winds up Breakneck Hill. The approach from that quarter was guarded by three parallel lines, of which the first and weakest ran from about the One Hundred and Forty-eighth street on the east to the One Hundred and Forty-fifth on the west; the second was in the rear, at the distance of two fifths of a mile; the third, one quarter of a mile still farther to the north; so that they could be protected, one from another, by musketry as well as cannon. A little farther than the third parallel, the house which Washington occupied stood on high ground overlooking the plains, the hills above Macgowan’s pass, the distant city, and the bay.
North of head-quarters the land undulates for yet a mile, to where Mount Washington, its highest peak, rises two hundred and thirty-eight feet over the Hudson. The steep summit was crowned by a five-sided earthwork, mounting thirtyfour cannon, but without casemates or strong outposts.
Just beyond Fort Washington the heights cleave asunder,