In the summer of 1776 the Continental troops were fortifying northern Manhattan and the Bronx for a siege from the Royalist Forces. A series of eight forts in the Bronx, and Fort Washington with its defensive works in Manhattan, were hastily constructed for this purpose.
One of these small outposts was on Marble Hill near what is now 227th Street and Van Corlear Place. This was an exposed position but had a commanding view of the vicinity and overlooked the King’s Bridge and the Dyckman Free Bridge. The bridges were vital links to the Bronx during the siege of New York.
In November 1776 Fort Washington was attacked and was forced to surrender. The rebel forces were forced to retreat. A boat bridge was constructed and was extended over the Spuyten Duyvil Creek from Seaman Avenue to the Bronx.
Contrary to common belief, Washington’s troops managed to use both bridges as an escape route. In the process of retreating, both bridges were either destroyed or heavily damaged so as not to be used by the occupying Royalist armies. The Hessians occupied this little fort and renamed it Fort Prince Charles to honor Charles the Prince of Brunswick, Brother-in-Law to King George III.
In January 1777 the Americans attacked the fort with small artillery positioned in Kingsbridge Heights. The intention of the attack was to ensure that the Kings Bridge, the Dyckman Free Bridge and the new boat bridge were to remain damaged or destroyed.
As soon as the shelling started, the Hessians who were at Hyatt’s Tavern at the bottom of the hill were forced to retreat to the fort at the top. As they were climbing the hill shells were falling around them forcing them to lie low. As soon as the Hessians were safely inside the fort, they returned fire.
The Hessians held the site for the duration of the war. In November 1783, when the City was to be retaken by the victorious American Army, the Hessians abandoned the fort, which was then occupied by the Americans. The fort is long since gone, but Fort Charles Place honors that little fort that was in Marble Hill.