Day Trip: Stony Point Battlefield

Site known for bayonet attack on British

By Mary Ann Ebner

A visit to Stony Point Battlefield State Historic Site may not take you far from Philipstown or Beacon, but you’ll find the past close to home. Walk the scenic trails on this preserve along the Hudson River that also boasts a museum and the Lighthouse at Stony Point, the Hudson River’s oldest, which overlooks the river on a bluff. Built in 1826, it remained lit for 99 years before its decommissioning in 1925 and restoration in 1995.

Located in Rockland County about a half hour from Cold Spring and 40 minutes from Beacon, the Stony Point site marks the location of the significant battlefield on which Continental light infantry forces conducted a midnight assault on British forces in July 1779. Without ammunition in their muskets but with bayonets fixed, the Revolutionary forces commanded by Brig. Gen. Anthony Wayne relied on hand-to-hand combat.

Outdoor exhibits feature 18th-century military camp life. Photo by M.A. Ebner
Outdoor exhibits feature 18th-century military camp life. (file photo by M.A. Ebner)

“The battle was a bayonet attack, and the symbol for the battlefield has always been five bayonets,” said site manager Julia Warger.

The museum houses bayonets, tools and other artifacts, while programs include reenactments of 18th-century military camp life, cannon and musket demonstrations, and children’s activities. Senior historian Michael Sheehan has worked at the facility for 10 years and enjoys taking visitors back in time. He not only looks the part when he dons his traditional Scottish bonnet and British regimental coatee, but he knows what he’s talking about, having spent most of his waking hours studying the period, participating in reenactments, giving lectures (see sidebar, below) and sharing stories with visitors.

Sheehan, 25, who studied history at Ramapo College of New Jersey, conducted an extensive search to gather various uniforms and costumes.

Historic site staff member Michael Sheehan sustains local history as an interpretive guide.  Photo by M.A. Ebner
Michael Sheehan (file photo by M.A. Ebner)

“You can’t go in and just buy this stuff off the shelves,” Sheehan said. “I got very lucky with my uniform research, and I’ve learned to make my own repairs. I’ve lived in Stony Point my whole life, and this is a great way to teach people.”

In addition to the museum, the site allows visitors to see a resident blacksmith at work. His schedule varies but he can often be found in the Soldier’s Camp Wednesday through Sunday to discuss military smithing and demonstrate how new items and repairs were made.

The Stony Point Battlefield State Historic Site is located at 44 Battlefield Road in Stony Point. For more information, visit nysparks.com or call 845-786-2521.

Schedule

10 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. Wednesday to Saturday

Noon – 4:30 p.m. Sunday

Closed Monday (except Labor Day from noon to 5 p.m.) and Tuesday.

Living history military camp open 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday and noon to 4 p.m. Sunday, weather permitting. Artillery drills are presented at 3 p.m. on both days.

Trip tips

Pick up a self-guided walking tour brochure at site entrance.

Handicapped golf-cart transportation from parking lot to main site available upon request on weekends. Museum wheelchair accessible.

No photographs allowed in museum.

Cold picnics welcome, no grills.

No trash cans on site. Carry-in/carry-out facility.