BY CHERYL SLAVIN
About 60 intrepid visitors, divided into two groups of 30, ventured into the dark night last Saturday evening to explore historic Fort Montgomery by lantern light. The annual event, which is regularly sold out, was complete with thrilling stories of courage and daring, an actual reenactment of the battle fought there, and even an encounter with a ghost who might still harbor resentment toward commanding General George Clinton.
Fort Montgomery, located on Route 9W just north of the Bear Mountain Bridge, is one of the two “twin forts” (Fort Clinton located at Bear Mountain is the other) erected by the American revolutionary forces to guard the tactically important Hudson River waterway during the war. Reading from firsthand accounts, tour guide Peter Cutul, appropriately attired in historic garb, described for visitors how, on October 9, 1777, the forts succumbed to British attack despite fierce resistance by the outnumbered Americans. Later, as they walked along the darkened paths, the guests suddenly found themselves surrounded by British and American soldiers in the midst of heated battle. After viewing the reenactment, visitors were also treated to a detailed demonstration of Revolutionary War field medicine. At the completion of the tour guests and living historians mingled while enjoying hot cider and delicious sugary doughnuts.
The Lantern Tour is the culmination of the Fort’s seasonal programming, which also includes a July 4 firing of the Fort’s cannon and “Twin Forts Day” in early October to commemorate the battle. The grounds and the visitors’ center at the state historic site are open, free of charge, from Wednesday through Sunday mid-April through the end of October. To find out more about next year’s programs, check out the Facebook page at www.facebook.com/FortMontgomeryStateHistoricSite, or the official New York State Parks website at http://nysparks.com/historic-sites/28/details.aspx.