Washington and the Final British Campaign for the Hudson River, 1779


July 3, 2013
by Hugh T. Harrington Also by this Author


Journal of the American Revolution is the leading source of knowledge about the American Revolution and Founding Era. We feature smart, groundbreaking research and well-written narratives from expert writers. Our work has been featured by the New York Times, TIME magazine, History Channel, Discovery Channel, Smithsonian, Mental Floss, NPR, and more. Journal of the American Revolution also produces annual hardcover volumes, a branded book series, and the podcast, Dispatches

In 1779 General George Washington and British Lieutenant-General Sir Henry Clinton were locked in a stalemate around New York City.  Clinton desperately wanted to lure Washington into a climactic battle that would destroy the Continental Army but his forces were not strong enough to fight Washington on his own ground.  Clinton attacked Connecticut in an attempt to lure Washington into battle but Washington knew he was not strong enough to attack the British in New York or to go chasing Clinton’s forces in Connecticut.

Washschellhammerbookington also knew that he had to keep the British from taking control of the strategically important Hudson River Valley.  The British campaign of 1779 included fortifying the major ferry terminus of Stony Point on the Hudson River.  On a dark night in July Anthony Wayne conducted an attack on Stony Point the likes of which the British had never seen by Americans.  Using only bayonets the Americans overwhelmed their opponents.

Michael Schellhammer describes the strategy, tactics and intelligence gathering involved in the entire 1779 Hudson River campaign in fascinating style.  He vividly recreates the attack on Stony Point with firsthand accounts from various positions on the battlefield and puts the reader into the action.  The reader joins British sentries peering into the darkness to catch a glimpse of stealthy attackers creeping ever closer only to see the enemy mere feet away in the light of the flash from a musket muzzle.  This is exciting, and historical, writing with a “you are there” feel.

Aided by excellent maps this well written narrative makes it easy to follow the action.  The sources are well documented in the endnotes.  A bibliography is included as is a comprehensive index.

The author is a retired US Army officer with extensive personal experience in intelligence and special operations.  This is a must read for anyone interested in the Revolutionary War.


George Washington and the Final British Campaign for the Hudson River, 1779

Amazon | Barnes & Noble

McFarland & Company, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-7864-6807-2

226 pages

Includes Index, Bibliography, Endnotes


  • I’m looking forward to reading this book. After Saratoga, most people, if they’ve even heard of that so-called ‘turning point,’ think the next battle was Yorktown and that was that. But the Hudson River continued to be a fascinating theater and contributor to a rich historical study which, with this work, seems to be continuing that course.

  • Thanks for the review, I’m adding the book to my wish list now. It will be right up there with my Saratoga,and Yorktown books in no time.

    1. Further to my last comment, I note Amazon and B&N offer the book for $38 and $40, respectively. Being a paperback, it does seem strange that Todd Andrlik’s book. Reporting the Revolutionary War was listed with the same approximate list price and that was a hard cover with rich illustrations, color and b+w. McFarland is an academic publisher so I get the high price but there are so many fine books now available about the RevWar at far lower price that I suspect this book’s sales will suffer and that would be too bad. In any case, I decided to save my money for the limited edition of the Journal’s soon to be published hard cover. Sorry, Michael.

  • Thanks for your interest guys! And no issues Steven – your support of this Journal and the upcoming limited Jorunal edition is enough.

    However let me add that the book is full of information that is, if I say so myself, fascinating and little-known. For example, how the British first stole a march on the Americans, Washington’s reaction, the brutal British raids in Connecticut, the tactics of how the Continental attacks on Stony Point and Paulus Hook succeeded, and how Washington skillfully husbanded his resources to knock Clinton back on the defensive. I also focus on the people that made these events happen, such as Gen. Anthony Wayne, Major “Crazy Jack” Stewart, Abraham Woodhull – Washington’s primary spy in New York at the time, who constantly feared discovery but kept sending Washington information anyhow – and the soldiers that faced incredible dangers. Banastre Tarleton, Major John Andre, and “Light Horse Harry” Lee all play parts in the story, in early examples of how they shined later in the Revolution.

    Information like this is sure to make any reader the hit of their next cocktail party!

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