Site Statistics and Status

Historic Themes for these sites.

 

In the Report to Congress on the Historic Preservation of Revolutionary War and War of 1812 Sites in the United States (P.L. 104-333, Section 603), p. 22. 1996 (p. 106), the National Park Service has the town of Fishkill listed as Class D, an important region of the Revolutionary War associated with important events of local historical significance.   This was the result of a review of possible sites in need of protection from further destruction of change developed due to the rapid land use changes taking place.

The National Park Service Historical Sites

FIGURE 1. Historical Themes

    • Theme I – Military (554 sites). Sites directly associated with military forces on land or sea.
    • Theme II – Government, Law, Politics, and Diplomacy (44 sites). Sites associated with decision-making, policy creation, political process, and diplomatic relations during the wars.
    • Theme III – Intellectual History (8 sites). Sites associated with the publication or propagation of ideas and values that influenced the social, political, economic, and military actions and policies during the wars.
    • Theme IV – Economics of War (40 sites). Sites associated with economic activities that contributed to the war effort.
    • Theme V – Society (9 sites). Sites associated with home front, civilian conduct during wartime. This theme includes sites associated with cottage industries and with social unrest or discord, where private citizens, acting without military or government sanction, caused disturbances or took up arms themselves.
    • Theme VI – Transportation (22 sites). Sites associated with moving people, goods, and information during the wars.

Ref:  Report to Congress on the Historic Preservation of Revolutionary War and War of 1812 Sites in the United States (P.L. 104-333, Section 603), p. 22. 1996.  Accessed at http://www.nps.gov/hps/abpp/Rev1812_Final_Report.pdf

The Fishkill site best fits the description for Theme I Military.  Although the Fishkill site is not a battlefield, it served an important site where the members of the military reserve were housed along with their belongings, as well as the belongings of the entire military staff.   A number of much smaller arguments can be made for the use of this site as a strategic meeting site where members of the government and military made their stay in order to make important political and wartime decisions (Theme II).  Fishkill was the place where the story of the famous spy Enoch Crosby came to be, and where the Committee of Safety worked actively to ensure the Hudson Valley’s strategic position in terms of national security.  Due to the blacksmith shop, the ironry, the leatherworkers, and numerous other craftsmen at work in this setting, one could argue it played some sort of role in the Economics of War, (Theme IV) or Society (Theme V) related roles linked to the local cottage industry needs, such as Loudon’s Press or George Washington’s sword manufactory.   As a storage facility and the principal location of the farrier’s and horse stable settings, this could even make the site qualify for a Theme VI-Transportation status.  The uniqueness of this site as the place where the best, most broadly related medical history of the war can be produced, one could argue this site also fits in very well with sites selected due to their impacts upon the Intellectual History (Theme III) related to the war, since Fishkill served as a site for military training to commence, where the Marquis de Lafayette offered his insights and expertise, and was situated close to Samuel Loudon’s New York Packet office.

Site Significance

To best understand the signiificance of the Fishkill site in the Revolutionary war, we have to first recall the value of the Hudson River and its West Point in the overall War.   During the first weeks and months of the war, the colonists lost possession of New York City.  Many of the patriots residing in the city then had to remove to other locations, one of these locations was Fishkill, New York.   The immediate

The following system of classification of Revolutionary War sites was developed to judge the significance of each battlefield under consideration for review.

FIGURE 3. Significance Categories for Battlefields

  • Class A. Site of a military or naval action with a vital objective or result that shaped the strategy, direction, outcome, or perception of the war.
  • Class B. Site of a military or naval action with a significant objective or result that shaped the strategy, direction, or outcome of a campaign or other operation.
  • Class C. Site of a military or naval action that influenced the strategy, direction, or outcome of a campaign or other operation.
  • Class D. Site of an incident or military or naval encounter that did not affect the course of a campaign or other operation but that did have local repercussions

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The Fishkill Supply Depot site is not a battlefield site, but rather is an auxiliary site related to both the local battles and skirmishes that commenced over the years, as well as to any needed supplies and training activities related to the war.

If we take a look at the Fishkill site and grade it according to the standards defined by The Revolutionary War and War of 1812 Historic Preservation Study Committee, the Fishkill site constitutes an Associated Historical Property Site.   This means the site could meet one of the following classification requirements:

FIGURE 4. Significance Categories for Associated Historic Properties from Report to Congress . . . p. 25.

  • Class A. Sites associated with events that shaped a Class A military action but that were not part of the action itself. -OR- Sites associated with government or citizen actions or the dissemination of significant thoughts, values, or ideas that had a direct and prevalent influence on social, political, economic, diplomatic, or military activities and policies during the war.
  • Class B. Sites associated with events that shaped a Class B military action but that were not part of the action itself. -OR- Sites associated with government or citizen actions or the disseminationof significant thoughts, values, or ideas that helped shape social, political, economic, diplomatic, or military actions and policies during the war.
  • Class C. Sites associated with events that shaped a Class C military action but that were not part of the action itself. -OR- Sitesassociated with government or citizen actions or the dissemination of significant thoughts, values, or ideas that had a limited influence on social, political, economic, diplomatic, or military actions and policies during the war.
  • Class D. Sites associated with events that shaped a Class D military action but that were not part of the action itself. -OR- Sites associated with individual decisions and actions not sanctioned by government or military entities that resulted in localized incidents of civil unrest. -OR- Sites associated with government or citizen actionsor the dissemination of thoughts, values, or ideas that did not have an influence on the social, political, economic, diplomatic, or military actions and policies during the war.

Fishkill site performed multiple servics for the local and regional military forces.  It is directly associated with the following parts of Revolutionary War history:

  • The guards established at West Point and the Chevaux de Fris
  • The White Plains battle
  • The Morrison battle [indirectly]
  • The Saratoga Battle [indirectly]

There were a number of major direct associations that can be made between Fishkill and the Revolutionary War. These pertain to the following:

  • The Depot (provided clothing, food, medical and military supplies)
  • The Horses
  • Soldiers barracks
  • Training
  • The Hospital
  • Staff and Military Meetings
  • Soldier’s Cemetery

Fishkill had a direct association with a number of smaller skirmishes that took place as far north as Boston and as far south as New Jersey.  There were approximately 40 local physicians serving at the hospital or one or more of its satellites, along with the primary staff members hired by General Washington and Samuel Bard.  There was at least one major building that served as a hospital at this location, and a number of facilities nearby in the adjacent village and rural community settings that served as additional hospitals in cases of epidemic infectious diseases in need of quarantine and when large numbers of soldiers were in need of care due to battle injuries.

This is primarily due to the use of this location as a hospital for wounded soldiers, and in the case of epidemic diseases like measles and small pox, as a site to perform both quarantine related and preventive activities.

Site Integrity

The integrity of a site is its ability to present, demonstrate or portray its significance as an inherent feature of its location and representation.

Several requirements are recognized for this feature in evaluating a site.  First and foremost, by being present at the site one has to be able to develop a sense of awe for the history attached to that site.  This trait is referred to as “the ability of a property to convey its significance.” [p. 26].

When standing in front of the Van Wyck home looking west towards the mountain face, one gets an immediate understanding of the protection this location offered to the local soldiers and military staff.   To the south are two narrow passageways.  This first is several miles to the west and is the Hudson River.  The second heads immediately to the south and is the passage through the mountain ridge formed just to the south.  There is also a fairly accessible route travelling parallel to but significantly inland from  the coastline that heads from inland Massachusetts through New Hampshire, Vermont, upper Connecticut and New York, into Pennsylvania.

The Hudson River which heads from New York City north towards Albany and then to St. Lawrence and the British owned parts of Canada was a strategically important riverway, which if the British were able to take control of it completely during the Revolutionary War, could have possibility resulted in a completely different outcome than that related to the modern history of this continent.  Just across the Hudson River from Fishkill Landing was George Washington’s Rretreat from the main campgrounds.

Site Boundaries

A significant site size and well defined boundaries are needed to produce the needs of this site as a national site.

Condition, Integrity and Landuse

One of the principle features of a site is it attractivity and its ability to effectively display its important local heritage.  The site requires a certain amount of openness and topographical and/or architectural beauty, and it has to have most if not all of its aboveground features fit in with its visibility, appearance and marketability.   The following table summarizes these requirements.

Condition and Integrity Evaluation Ratings

  • Minimal change from the period of significance; resource is intact.*
  • Moderate change from the period of significance; resource retains most historic features.
  • Substantial change from the period of significance; resource is  altered or fragmented but retains some essential features/retains some archeological potential.
  • Severe change from the period of significance; resource is highly fragmented or destroyed.

*Reversible changes were deemed to have little impact on site integrity.  For example, many battles raged over historic agricultural fields which are now wooded but retain original terrain and archeological and cultural features.

In the original study performed of this for the 463 Revolutionary War sites, 38% of the Battlefield sites and 33% of the Associated Sites underwent substantial change and displayed resources that were altered or fragmented.  For severely changed or destroyed sites, 20% of battlefield sites were under this category and 12% of Associated Sites.

Site Improvement

The improvement of this site is required to make its value immediately recognisable by locals and passer-bys.

There are a number of small improvements that could be made that are somewhat superficial, such as the improvement of looks in and around the Van Wyck building that rests in the middle of the property now considered central to this location.

The second improvement is the enlargement of the land that can be used for this special purpose.   Typically, successful visitor’s sites require a siszeable lot of land on which core activities can take place.  The use of land immediately adjacent to this mansion is fit for such a use.

The third improvement of the site and its immediately surrounding environment requries that more integration be made with respect to the related historical sites found throughout the Fishkill location.  The visibility and reachibility of these locations in important to any visitor’s site development.  For the immediate area, the sites with attractibility, to name a few, include Samuel Loudon’s site, the various buildings on Main Street in the Fishkill Village, the Sword manufactory site, the Clinton House in Poughkeepsie, Mount Beacon, the Madame Brett’s homestead in the City of Beacon (formerly Fishkill Landing).  Other sites of potential interest to visitors include the Hudson River Walkway, Samuel FB Morse’s place, the FDR and Vanderbilt mansions.

Site Redevelopment

In the National Park Service’s Guidelines for Identifying, Evaluating, and Registering America’s Historic Battlefields, for a battlefield landscape to be recognized and retain “the most important aspects of integrity”, it must demonstrate its value in terms of “location, setting, feeling and association”.  When standing on this property in the Fishkill setting, one is at first taken by the large amount of changes in land use surrounding the vicinity, much like the urbanization that have taken place in many urban core national historical settings in Boston, Philadelphia, and event New York City.  Progress and growth reduce the visual sense of where these places are situated.  In the Fishkill setting, there remains opportunities to remove the potential damage that continued development and growth in this immediate location might have on this site.

The unoccupied plaza located across the street from the Van Wyck home is a former shopping center.  Prior to the use of the place as a business center, it was an open field consisting of mixed young deciduous trees scattered across a sizeable field.

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The following sites are descriptions of how the Revolutionary War Soldiers are honored:

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Medical References

http://www.americanrevolution.org/medicine.html

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