Neutral Ground of New York

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Neutral Ground of New York

NEUTRAL GROUND OF NEW YORK. 1776–1783. The term applies, narrowly, to the territory east of the Hudson River between the British positions around New York City (on Manhattan Island at Kings Bridge, where the Boston Post Road crossed the Harlem River) north to the American positions in the southern part of the Highlands of the Hudson. Extending roughly thirty miles north and south, it included most of The Bronx and Westchester County. A broader definition extends the term to include the entire wedge of land beginning at the northern end of Manhattan Island and fanning out north up the Hudson River and northeast along Long Island Sound toward Connecticut.

There was nothing "neutral" about the Neutral Ground. The term meant that neither side had the capacity to control what happened in this region. Each side could deploy sufficient forces to obtain a temporary superiority, but both were too close to the main forces of the enemy to linger for too long in the Neutral Ground. The modern equivalent would be the no-man's-land between the established positions of two rival armies. Civilians found it extremely difficult to live in the area, since parties from both sides continually raided and ravaged their farms and possessions.

Conditions similar to those existing in the Neutral Ground also afflicted New Jersey from the Amboys and New Brunswick north through the Hackensack Valley into southern Orange County, New York, on the west side of the Hudson River, but the term "neutral ground" did not normally include this region.

                          revised by Harold E. Selesky