Constitution Island & Marsh
Island is part of West Point, the United States Military
Academy, a National Registered Landmark. The
Island is most famous for the Great Chain that was placed
across the Hudson during the Revolutionary War and the
Warner family who lived on the Island during the 19th
century. The Warner House and ruins of the Revolutionary
War fortifications are the primary points of interest.
The Island's 280 acres are covered with hiking trails
that are enjoyed by the Island's visitors. The Constitution
Island Association was founded in 1916 to preserve and
protect the history and traditions of this unique American
On September 21, 1775, John Berrien
used the name “Constitution Fort” for the
first time in an official document of the New York Provincial
Gen. George Washington was appointed
by the Continental Congress to work with the New York
Provincial Congress to make plans on how the Hudson
River should be fortified against the British. Subsequently,
Bernard Romans, an engineer, was appointed to begin
the construction of the large fort on the island which
was to be named “Fort Constitution.” When
Sir Henry Clinton's British troops went up the Hudson
River from New York City in 1777, the small group of
American soldiers encamped on the island destroyed as
much as possible of the unfinished fort and fled. British
troops occupied the island for twenty days. Fort Constitution
was never rebuilt.
West Point was the new site of the
forts built by the Americans in January 1778 and where
a chain was stretched across the river to Constitution
Island, Col. Thaddeus Kosciusko directed the construction
at West Point and, on Constitution Island, built three
redoubts and a battery to protect the east end of the
great chain. A large barracks was built and American
soldiers were stationed on the island until December
20, 1783 when Gen. Washington's personal “lifeguard”
was disbanded there.
The lovely old house on Constitution
Island was the home of the Warner family from 1836 to
1915. Susan and Anna Warner were well-known writers
in the nineteenth century. Susan wrote The Wide, Wide
World in 1850 which became a best seller of its day.
Anna is best known for writing the words to the hymn
Jesus Loves Me. The sisters taught Bible classes to
West Point cadets for forty years.
The oldest part of the Warner House
includes a thick stone wall existing from Revolutionary
War days. The Victorian wing of eight rooms was built
by Henry Warner in 1836 when he moved his family from
New York City to the island. The house is furnished
with original Warner family possessions. The Warner
House is a living museum and is kept as nearly as possible
as it was when Miss Anna Warner lived there until her
death in 1915.
The Association runs tours to Constitution
Island for the general public from June 25th until September
25th. To reach the Island visitors take a ferry from
the South Dock at West Point. Tours leave the South
Dock at 1:00 PM and 2:00 PM on Wednesdays and Thursdays.
Tours are approximately 2 1/4 hours in duration.