Sailing up the Hudson River to come to the aid of General Charles Cornwallis and the besieged British army at the Battle of Saratoga, General Henry Clinton and 3,000 British troops stop to launch an attack on Forts Clinton and Montgomery, in what is now Orange County, New York, in the early morning hours of October 6, 1777.
Under the cover of a heavy fog, General Clinton divided his troops into two separate divisions to launch simultaneous assaults on the American forts. The division leading the assault on Fort Montgomery was commanded by British Lieutenant Colonel Mungo Campbell while General John Vaughn led the assault on Fort Clinton.
American Brigadier General George Clinton and his brother, Brigadier General James Clinton, were faced with defending Fort Montgomery and Fort Clinton with a combined military force of approximately 700 men. Outnumbered by the British 3-1, the American force put up a courageous defense of both forts.
Besides facing an onslaught of thousands of advancing British ground forces, both forts were bombarded throughout the day by British ships anchored on the banks of the Hudson River. Around sunset, Campbell offered the Americans a chance to surrender. When they refused, he ordered an all-out assault on both forts. In the ensuing attack, Campbell was killed, but both Fort Montgomery and Fort Clinton were captured and subsequently burned to the ground by the British. The Americans lost nearly 300 men killed, injured or captured. The British lost 200 men killed out of a force of 3,000.
Despite the loss of both forts and an overwhelming number of troops, though, the Americans were able to delay the British long enough that they were unable to aid Cornwallis at the Battle of Saratoga. The decisive American victory at Saratoga persuaded King Louis XVI of France that the Patriots were worthy of his support—assistance that eventually helped the Americans win the war.