The Fishkill Supply Depot should be preserved
Dave Palmer 6:05 p.m. ET Sept. 29, 2016
From my current home in Texas, I have been watching the unfolding “Continental Commons” debate occurring near my former home in the Hudson Highlands. It is an important topic to me not only as a one-time neighbor (12 years at West Point, the last five as superintendent) but also as an author and TV commentator on the American Revolution in and around Fortress West Point.
Whatever one’s position is in the debate, there can be no overlooking the one-of-a-kind historical significance of the area at the northern portion of the Hudson Highlands. Existing there is a cluster of sites from the American Revolution unique in our country: Fortress West Point, The New Windsor Cantonment, the Fishkill Supply Depot, Washington’s Headquarters in Newburgh, and more. So many vital activities grouped so close to one another shows how centrally strategic that small corner of New York was to the war effort. All those links to our history have survived the ravages of time, and the spread of development approaches the miraculous.
Those hallowed sites complement one another in telling the story of the Revolution. The fortress complex called West Point, backed by the vital logistical complex at Fishkill, formed a bastion impregnable to British forces, while George Washington’s stationing of the Continental Army and his own nearly constant presence there or nearby amply demonstrated the area’s strategic significance. He labeled it “The Key of America.”
Fortunately, individuals and organizations have worked over the decades to preserve this historical treasure trove, such as The Friends of the American Revolution at West Point, the Friends of the Fishkill Supply Depot and the establishment of the New Windsor Cantonment as a New York State historic park. In fact, a major effort is ongoing at West Point to preserve existing fortification sites and to make them more available to students, citizens, and historians. I believe a similar effort is underway for the Fishkill Supply Depot.
I hope that movement to save and preserve the supply depot is successful. My hat is off to the modern patriots and public-minded citizens striving to do so. It was an absolutely essential site during the war. The outcome of the debate is important locally, of course, but make no mistake—it is important as well to all Americans and to posterity.
Although battles and campaigns are more “sexy" to talk about, they could never be won without logistical support. Making the Fishkill Supply Depot a permanent historical park will complete the special triad of Fortress, Cantonment, and Depot.
Dave Palmer is a retired U.S. Army lieutenant general.
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