Tuesday, December 21, 2010

The Battle of Pell's Point or Pelham October 18,1776

Glover's Rock. Pelham Park New York City. November 11, 2010 shot with a Holga 120N

During my research in documenting the battlefields of Brooklyn;  I became aware of the larger dramatic scope of events that took place in the greater New York City region in 1776. The battles of August 27 in Brooklyn were just the start of the English campaign to smash the rebel army of General Washington.  In doing this research I discovered battles that I never heard of before. One of these was the Battle of Pell’s Point.  I was looking through “New York 1776” the Osprey series by David Smith. Accompanying an illustration by Graham Turner I saw a short description of the Battle at Pelham. That in turn led to Wikipedia.
“The Battle of Pell's Point (October 18, 1776), also known as the Battle of Pelham, was a skirmish fought between British and American troops during the New York and New Jersey campaign of the American Revolutionary War. The conflict took place in what is now part of Pelham Bay Park in the Bronx, New York City.

View of Eastchester Bay. The English army landed on the left side of the image. Shot with a Holga 120N.
On October 12, British forces landed at Throgs Neck in order to execute a flanking maneuver that would trap Gen. George Washington, commander-in-chief of the American revolutionary forces, and the main body of the Continental Army on the island of Manhattan. The landing was thwarted by the Americans, and British commander Gen. Sir William Howe, commander-in-chief of British forces in North America, looked for another location along Long Island Sound to disembark his troops. On October 18, he landed 4,000 men at Pelham, 3 miles (4.8 km) north of Throgs Neck. Inland were 750 men of a brigade under the command of Col. John Glover. Glover positioned his troops behind a series of stonewalls, and attacked the British advance units. As the British overran each position, the American troops fell back and reorganized behind the next wall. After several such attacks, the British broke off and the Americans retreated.

The battle delayed British movements long enough for Washington to move the main army to White Plains, avoiding being surrounded on Manhattan. After losing to the British in a battle at White Plains, and losing Fort Washington, Washington retreated across New Jersey to Pennsylvania.”

Holga 120N shot of marsh land
After doing some more research I found a cool on line book by William Abbatt entitled “The battle of Pell’s Point (or Pelham) October 18, 1776” it’s a self-published book from 1901. This book has some great location photographs from 1900. It goes into great detail about the landscape of the area both at the time of the battle & time the book was published. I cross referenced this information with current maps & discovered that as opposes to most revolutionary war sites in New York this one has remained relatively undeveloped and is now part of Pelham Bay Park. The parks location also is close by my workplace!

Holga 120N with sun on marsh grass
These images are from my first visit. The timing of my first visit also fell on November 11th. I brought along some color film for my Holga pin-hole camera & B&W for the Holga 120N. I was hopping to catch the last of the fall leaves with the color film. The weather was cool but sunny with high clouds. I was already familiar with the roadways through the park but I need to reconcile them with sites from the battle. I knew that Glover’s Rock was marked so that was my first thing that photographed. Parking is limited in this area so a great deal of walking is necessary to get to the various locations. The battle it’s self took place over a distance of three miles or so as the British army tried to move inland. The action took place along various stone walls that are no longer there. Most the field is now part of a golf course! There are several trails that allow you to reach undeveloped areas in the park.

Color PinHole capture of the terrain around the Pelham Battlefield.
I messed up the Holga 120N roll by switching the view window to 16 & not switching the interior film mask to the smaller frame. This meant the all the photos overlapped on the sides. I was still able to salvage some cool shot’s though.

Eastchester Bay invasion route.

View Battle of Pelham in a larger map

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