Copyright The Columbia University PressThe Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed. The Columbia University Press
Fort Washington, military post during the American Revolution, situated on the highest point of Manhattan island, New York City, overlooking the Hudson River opposite Fort Lee, N.J. It was a hastily built earthwork with no water supply within its walls and no fortifications able to withstand a strong attack. It was, however, strategically located, and its maintenance was a mark of American prestige. When Gen. George Washington was retreating before the British general William Howe, in 1776, he left a garrison under Gen. Nathanael Greene at Fort Washington. In spite of Washington's advice to abandon the fort, Greene chose to remain. Howe attacked and captured the fort on Nov. 16, 1776.