General Clinton's Expedition Up the Hudson River

General Clinton's Expedition Up the Hudson River

On his Expedition to the Hudson Highlands, 3-22 October 1777, General Clinton led a British expedition to attack American forces in positions along the Hudson River. During the Battle of Saratoga, Major General John Burgoyne requested assistance from Clinton. General Clinton replied on September 12th that he would attack Fort Montgomery, an assault which would hopefully draw away some of the American forces at Bemis Heights.

During his campaign, Sir Henry Clinton overran the American defenses at Fort Montgomery on 4 October 1777. On the 7th, he overran Fort Constitution, the American fort on Constitution Island near West Point. Having taken both American forts, Clinton sent word to Burgoyne that nothing stood between him and Gates. However, Clinton had never intended to advance any further north as his primary concern was his defense of the New York City area.

General Howe, commander of the British forces, ordered Clinton to abandon the two forts at Hudson Highlands to send reinforcements to Pennsylvania. In response to the repeated requests for support from Burgoyne, Clinton detached 1,700 men to support the British expedition on 15 October 1777, over a week after the British defeat at Saratoga. Upon hearing of Burgoyne's defeat at Saratoga, Clinton ordered the detachment to withdraw.

Unfortunately for the British, General Howe had never received orders to support Burgoyne's expedition. He had expected Clinton to make a demonstration against the forces along the Hudson River. General Howe used Clinton's expedition as a diversion from his primary goal to seize Philadelphia from American control. In his plans to this end, Burgoyne's efforts at Saratoga had no weight.

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