The American Revolution Happened Here

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

This live interview with Robert Sullivan originally aired on September 11, 2012. An edited version was aired on July 5, 2013 as part of a special episode of the Brian Lehrer Show. 

Robert Sullivan, author of My American Revolution: Crossing the Delaware and I-78, visits many of the significant sites from the American Revolution—which he says are in the backyards of New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania.

→ Map of New Jersey's Revolutionary History Courtesy of New York Magazine


Robert Sullivan

Comments [14]

Don Knies from Belle Harbor

I am looking at page 164 of Robert Sullivan's new book, where he turns left (north) at the junction of Flatbush Avenue and Kingshighway in Brooklyn on his way to Prospect Park and Battle Pass. This is the spot where some of retreat from The British in the Battle of Long Island started. For QUEENS residents looking to find their way back in time to 1776, they may want to go to that junction and then go EAST to follow along Kingshighway with that segment of Howe's army which went on to Jamaica Pass in the contemporary Cemetery of the Evergreens. There one can follow the "Rockaway Footpath" (labeled with a sign) that Howe's soldiers walked to come up behind Washington;s unprepared troops. Or wait for the August historic walk which i by the historian at that Cemetery to see how this flanking movement made its way through the hills on the Brooklyn/Queens border.

Jul. 05 2013 05:21 PM
Larry from Fort Lee,N.J.

I live in Fort Lee and I go to the Revolutionary War re-enactments every November at Fort Lee History Park. I am proud of my town and its history.We have excellent views of Manhattan. I used to be able to see where there were spikes in the Hudson that were there to rip the hulls of English warships. Come visit.

Sep. 12 2012 08:43 AM
steve mark from Manhattan

My goodness, the Brits were very successful. Battle of Brooklyn. siege of Fort Washington (Wash. Hts), Fort Lee (to the left of the bridge heading to NJ), Battle of White Plains, Stony Point (until the Americans stormed it), Fort Clinton (just south of the Bear Mtn Bridge and Fort Montgomery (can be visited).

I wonder if Mr. Sullivan can trace his ancestry to Maj. Gen. John Sullivan, who fought the British in Nrooklyn, Trenton and Rhode Island and the Iroquois in upstate NY.

NY and NJ are rich in Revolutionary history. The Hudson Valley is a treasure trove of sites because the river was a strategic waterway contested by both sides. If you want a wonderful book on the subject in addition to Mr. Sullivan's, read Barnet Schecter's Battle for Nre York.

Sep. 11 2012 11:30 AM
Maria from Morristown

There is a White Oak tree in Basking Ridge which is 600 years old where George Washington is known to have picnicked under. I have yet to see this tree but will go on a quest to find it very soon.

I live on Western Ave which is the road leading to Jockey Hollow, the first National Historic Park of America. Everyone who loves American History should pay it a visit. There is always a person dressed in Revolutionary garb waiting in the cabin to greet you. A hand written book sits on a table listing the shabby shape of the soldiers guns, outfits and goods.

George Washington's headquarters, while in Morristown, was at the Ford Mansion which is another place to visit. I like to imagine him going from there, down Western Ave, on his horse, thru the snow with his cape flowing in the cold wind, to visit the 10,000 soldiers in small, rustic huts freezing in Jockey Hollow.

For all New Jerseyans, there is a good book called "NJ in the American Revolution" which talks about NJ's role in the revolution.

1776, another good bool which brought to life the difficulties and fortitude of our American Revolutionaries.
They truly did the impossible having beaten the British. It was there I learned that NJ, NY and Virginia all had over 200 battles during the Revolutionary War. NJ had more than Virginia.

Sep. 11 2012 11:14 AM
Rich Patterson from Trenton, NJ

Just heard this exciting segment. I'm the director of the Old Barracks Museum in Trenton, NJ where folks who'd like to know more about the Battles (there were 2)of Trenton can visit.

Love the suggestion of visiting sites at the time of the year the historical events actually happened. This Dec. 29th, we will have our 19th annual re-enactment of the Battles of Trenton right on the very streets it was fought.

For those on your staff and the listeners who rued the lack of a map of sites, the Crossroads of the American Revolution National Heritage Area of New Jersey has just what you're looking for at

Sep. 11 2012 11:11 AM
Lee Gelber from Astoria,NY

There is a Nathan Hale plaque on the facade of the Yale Club, 44th Street and Vanderbilt Avenue, Hale was a Yalie after all.

Sep. 11 2012 11:06 AM
Edward from Washington Heights AKA pretentious Hudson Heights

avid from Manhattan

"I'm British, my wife is from NJ. I need some ammo."

I hear there's plenty of ammo in the Bronx and Brooklyn.

Sep. 11 2012 10:58 AM

From the painting "Washington Crossing the Delaware" it appears that the river was at least the size of the East River if not the Hudson. However, the reality is that at the place he crossed, the Delaware is actually more like a stream. When I asked the park ranger if it was wider when Washington crossed, he said no but it was filled with ice.

Sep. 11 2012 10:58 AM
Amy from Manhattan

There's a reenactment every year in November of the Battle of Fort Washington, in Fort Tryon Park in Washington Heights--which I don't even see on the map above.

Sep. 11 2012 10:58 AM
Bob from Pelham, NY

We took a walking tour of the battlefield of Pell's Point in the northeast, led by the curator of the St. Paul's Church National Historic Site in Mount Vernon. In among Pelham Bay Park's two municipal golf courses, the Hutchinson River Parkway and the approaches to Orchard Beach there are traces of the original farm road and stone walls where John Glover's Massachusetts men held off the British and Hessian troops long enough for Gen. Washington to withdraw and preserve his army.

Sep. 11 2012 10:57 AM
Martin from New Paltz

Kingston was the site of the original state capital. It has many homes and buildings from the revolutionary era. The Matthewis Person person house was once a tavern where people would have gathered to discuss new, revolutionary ideas. It still stands and is open during the Kingston farmers' market for visitors.

Sep. 11 2012 10:55 AM
Jim from nj

Big fan of Mr. Sullivan's Meadowlands Wilderness Adventures on the Edge of the City.

Live down in NJ down the street from Monmouth Battlefield of Molly Pitcher fame.

Sep. 11 2012 10:54 AM
Dan V olpe from Midtown

I studied with Edwin Burroughs; co-author of the NYC History omnibus "Gotham" at Brooklyn College.

I think that NYC gets the short end of the stick because it was mainly a Loyalist town. We hear very little about the fires that destroyed much of NYC immediately following GW's retreat. Does Sullivan think that those blazes were set by Washington's army and if so what does that say of the importance of NYC in the Revolutionaries war plans?

Oh and The battle of BROOKLYN is where the action was.

Sep. 11 2012 10:53 AM
David from Manhattan

I'm British, my wife is from NJ. I need some ammo.

What are the locations of the greatest British victories in our area?


Sep. 11 2012 10:53 AM

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