Thursday, July 14, 2016

British Fort at Latourette

In response to a request from Peter M., I did a little research on the British Revolutionary War-era forts here on Staten Island. He's particularly interested in the one near Latourette Golf Course, having looked for it as a kid. So here goes.

First, there's actually a Wikipedia article on the Latourette fort. Called Lookout Place or Fort Izard, it wasn't really a fort, just an earthen rampart about 44 square feet. It was built to look over a freshwater stream, and I imagine would have had a nice clear view toward New Jersey and any colonial intruders.

During the Battle of Staten Island, based on the map on Wikipedia, it seems like Gen. Smallwood's retreat from his initial landing point at Decker's Ferry (Port Richmond), to Old Blazing Star (Rossville), took him along the same stream and under the observation of the British fort.

For those who don't know, the Battle of Staten Island, was a raid led by Gen. John Sullivan against a mixed force of British regulars, Hessians, and colonial militia. His goal was to bag a bunch of prisoners and destroy supplies. Poor coordination, faulty directions, and general confusion led to the American's losing more prisoners to the enemy than they captured themselves. Sullivan was later court martialed for his handling of the battle, but was cleared.

Supposedly, the remnants of the embrasure could be seen at least until the end of the 19th century. I'm planning an expedition to the spot later this summer, so I'll let you know what I can actually see.

This map shows the location of the fort in relation to Richmondtown.

This is from the hand-written and unpublished book by Dr.William Gamble. I'm assuming he was attached to the British forces occupying Staten Island, but I'm not sure. The book, which I actually got to look through, is filled with odds and ends, including puzzles, and lists of Royal Navy ships by name and rating. Regarding the Latourette fort, Gamble's contribution is this map below showing the location of every redoubt (or "ridout" as he spells it) on the Island in 1781. The Latourette position is listed as point a, the Richmond ridout.


James P. Sarlo said...

Hi Wasp. I am very happy to see your article on the British Fort at Latourette. I have been researching this topic for eight years and plan to one day publish a book on this subject entitled "The Lost Redoubts: Staten Island's Forgotten British Forts." I can provide you with a lot of information about the redoubt(s) at Latourette. Yes, that's right the "redoubts". Actually there were three redoubts constructed in the vicinity of Lookout Hill with several small huts disposed between them. John Sincoe of the Queen's Rangers had his HQ in the old Latourette homestead. That once stood near to the footprint of the fort. The remnant's of which can still be seen. The original fresh water well which supplied the forts can still be located on the site. In addition, the deserter's Map of 1781 shows the overall layout of the fort. If you would like to learn more about the fort just posted a replied, and we can make arrangements.
James P. Sarlo

The Wasp said...

Wow, I would absolutely love to learn more about the redoubts. Am I even close at where I guessed one of the redoubts to be? I based it on a very simple comparison of the maps and Google aerial view shown above.
You can reach me at

Fletcher Vredenburgh, aka the Wasp

James P. Sarlo said...

Hi again.
Your dead on spot for one of the earthwork locations. The engraving you which is a view of the redoubt that stood on Lookout Hill. A driving pitch on Latourette golf course now covers the site. Overall the fort's archeological footprint is only partially intact. Much of the site was covered over during the construction of the golf course in the 1940's.
Here's my e-mail were you may reach me directly.

Anonymous said...

Ooops. that should have read. "The engraving which you posted is a view..."