Points of Interest
Located across the Hudson River, Constitution Island was the site of the first Revolutionary War fortifications in the Hudson Highlands.
The British overran the positions in 1777, but the Americans returned in 1778 and made the island an integral part of Fortress West Point. In the 1830s, the island was purchased by Henry Warner and became the home of his two daughters, Susan and Anna. The daughters were prolific writers and conducted Sunday school classes for West Point cadets for 40 years. Anna wrote the words for the hymn “Jesus Loves Me.” In her will, Anna bequeathed the island to the USMA for the benefit of the Corps of Cadets.
The Warner House and Revolutionary fortifications still stand and are available for tours most often from May through September. A voluntary contribution provides for a guided tour by Constitution Island Association volunteers. For reservations, call 446-8676.
WEST POINT CEMETERY
The West Point Cemetery sits on a promontory, once known as “German Flats,” on Washington Road overlooking the Hudson River and Constitution Island.
There are more than 7,500 men and women buried here. Included are those who died in virtually every armed conflict in which the United States has taken part. Revolutionary War soldiers and local residents were buried here for several years before it was officially designated a military cemetery in 1817. The oldest grave, that of Ensign Dominick Trant, dates from 1782 and can be found in the oldest section of the cemetery in the northeastern corner. In this same section, a visitor will notice there are many graves marked “Unknown.” These graves hold the re-interred remains of Revolutionary War Soldiers and others who were buried in several plots around post.
The history of the academy can be seen in the graves of former superintendents and in the resting places of many military, civilian and sports heroes in West Point history.
Generals Thayer, George Armstrong Custer, Winfield Scott, John Buford, Lucius Clay and William Westmoreland are here, as are sports figures Dennis Michie, Glenn Davis, Charles Daly and Earl “Red” Blaik. They lie forever side by side with professors, clergymen, astronauts, spouses and children.
OLD CADET CHAPEL
Consecrated in 1836, the Old Cadet Chapel was originally constructed in the central area of the academy. When Bartlett Hall was scheduled to be built on that site in 1910, the West Point alumni provided funds to preserve their cherished chapel. It was dismantled stone by stone and reconstructed at its present site at the edge of the West Point Cemetery, where a new entrance to the cemetery was added. The reconstruction was completed in 1911.
The chapel is now used for Lutheran and other denominational services, weddings, memorial services and funerals of all faiths. The seating capacity is 450. The Old Cadet Chapel is one of five chapels on the academy grounds and is one of the oldest buildings still in use at West Point.
Trophy Point is one of the most popular sites in the Hudson River Valley. The view to the north has been captured in paintings and photographs for the past two centuries. Memorials here commemorate many of our nation’s military campaigns. It is perhaps the pre-eminent site at West Point where the past comes alive for graduates and visitors alike.
Links forming the Great Chain stretched across the Hudson River at West Point during the Revolutionary War and served as a key element in the area defenses. Used from 1778 to 1782, the 500-yard, almost 100-ton chain floated on logs and was designed to act as a barrier to enemy ships.
This was the second of two chains to be placed across the Hudson. The first was placed four miles below West Point between Fort Montgomery and Anthony’s Nose, near the location of the present-day Bear Mountain Bridge.
Fort Putnam was the single most important fortification at West Point during the American Revolution. Built in 1778 by Colonel Rufus Putnam’s 5th Massachusetts Regiment, it was the key fortification in the interlocking network of forts and redoubts making up West Point’s defenses. From this site, the Plain and approaches to the Great Chain could be protected. Originally, a wood and earthen redoubt, Fort Putnam is today an imposing stone fortress. The longevity of the fort was helped by an extensive renovation during the American Revolution Bicentennial in the 1970s. Exhibits in the West Point Museum fully explain Fortress West Point’s crucial role in our War for Independence.
There is no charge to visit the fort, from which you can see most of West Point and the surrounding Hudson River Valley. The fort is open seasonally between May and September each year. Contact the West Point Museum at 938-2203/3590 for available hours.
One of the oldest buildings on post, Quarters 100 is designated for the Superintendent and his family. Previous occupants include Robert E. Lee, Douglas MacArthur, Maxwell Taylor and William C. Westmoreland.
Washington was the commander-in-chief of the Continental Army, the first President of the United States and “the father of his country.” In addition, he recognized the critical importance of the military position at West Point. He spent much time in this area, especially near the end of the Revolutionary War. Finally, he was among the foremost advocates of the establishment of a military academy. This statue was sculpted by Henry Kirke Brown and unveiled in 1916.