On my earlier walk into Glenclyffe (see Glenclyffe 1 – all that remains of the original mansion and Glenclyffe 2 – Monastery of Mary Immaculate) I walked up to the former monastery, continued on to the former Hamilton Fish house, and then kept going until I reached what was labelled on the map as ‘historic overlook’. Although trees pretty much obscured the view I could see that it ‘overlooked’ the Hudson. However, I had no idea why it was ‘historic’. We had plans for the evening and I was already running late. So I turned around and retraced my steps back to Garrison Station.
I’d seen from the trail map that the trail continued along what was referred to as ‘Benedict Arnold Escape Route’. For years I’ve been fascinated by Benedict Arnold so I returned a few days later. This time rather than starting from Garrison station I started from Route 9D (turn into the entrance to the Garrison Institute and the parking is a little way down on the right). After crossing the grassy area on the opposite side from the parking I found the trail on the other side. After walking for a couple of minutes I came across an information kiosk, which explained what was ‘historic’ about the ‘overlook’:
This walking path follows the historic Beverly Dock Road, which from 1756 until 1892 linked the Robinson House (which formerly stood on a site 600 feet to the south of this spot, on the east side of what is now Route 9D) to a landing dock on the Hudson River, originally called Robinson’s Landing, and later Beverly Dock. On the morning of September 25, 1780, Major General Benedict Arnold, who had established his headquarters in the Robinson House upon taking command of West Point and its dependencies the month before, awaited the arrival for breakfast of General George Washington and his staff (including Brigadier General Henry Knox, Major General, the Marquis, de Lafayette, Lieutenant Colonel Jean Baptise de Gouvion, and Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Hamilton), returning to the Main Army from a secret conference in Hartford with their counterparts of the French Expeditionary Army. Washington, deciding to inspect the North and South Redoubts (whose ruined ramparts and batteries remain on the high ridge visible from this spot a mile to the northeast) before proceeding to the Robinson House, sent Lafayette’s aide de camp Major James McHenry and Knox’s aide captain Samuel Shaw ahead to ask Mrs Peggy Arnold (Margaret Shippen) not to wait breakfast. While Arnold was taking breakfast with Washington’s messengers, a messenger arrived from the front lines with a dispatch informing Arnold of the capture of a “John Anderson” in possession of documents detailing the defects of the defenses of West Point – a man whom Arnold knew in fact to be Major John Andre, General Sir Henry Clinton’s spymaster and co-conspirator in Arnold’s plan to surrender West Point to the British. Knowing that his on arrest would be certain upon Washington’s arrival at the Robinson House some minutes hence, Arnold excused himself from this guests, took hasty leave of his young wife and baby, fled by horse down Beverly Dock Road and ordered his commandant’s barge standing ready at Robinson’s Landing to take him eighteen miles downriver, where he boarded the British warship HMS Vulture, which lay waiting Andre’s overdue return.
It was only in the late afternoon of September 25 that a separate dispatch concerning Anderson’s arrest and true identity finally caught up to Washington at the Robinson House and disclosed Arnold’s treason. Deeply shocked that his most trusted general had come so close to delivering the British not only the key to America’s defense but also the person of the Commander in Chief, Washington ordered the heights above the Robinson House heavily reinforced and the entire Highlands Department put on war alert. Popular indignation at the disclosure of treachery in the highest ranks of the Revolution, combined with widespread gratitude that the enemies designs had been frustrated, stiffened the resolve of the fledgling to persevere to victory.
Fascinating stuff. The historic overlook clearly has a view toward where Beverly Dock once stood. Coincidentally we had tickets to see ‘Spamilton‘, a parody of the Broadway mega hit ‘Hamilton‘ about the same Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Hamilton mentioned above.