Hudson River Chain

Hudson River Chain

Hudson River Chain

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The Hudson River Chain may refer to any of several chains used as a blockade across the Hudson River intended to prevent British naval vessels from proceeding up the river during the American Revolutionary War.

The Great Chain (1778-1782)

In the spring of 1778, the most notable of all these obstructions, a heavy chain supported by huge logs, was stretched across the Hudson from West Point to Constitution Island, opposite. It was constructed at the Stirling Iron Works, in Warwick, Orange County, by Peter Townsend, under the supervision of Timothy Pickering. The task was completed in six weeks.

The Hudson River's narrow width and sharp turns at West Point created adverse sailing conditions and prompted construction of The Great Chain in 1778 as an obstacle to the movement of British Ships north of West Point. West Point was chosen for the placement of The Great Chain because of the distinctive "S-Curve" the Hudson makes there, which would force any large ship to slow down in order to navigate it, thus making the ship an easier target for artillery batteries.

American soldiers positioned the chain to impede the progress of a ship should it attempt to turn into the east-west channel against frequently unfavorable winds and a strong current. Due to the Lower Hudson River actually being an estuary, it is subject to significant tidal currents which make navigation by sailing vessels particularly difficult. Cannons were placed in forts and batteries on both sides of...
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