WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. -- White Plains commemorated the 237th anniversary of the Battle of White Plains Sunday by rededicating Battle Whitney Park as Battle of White Plains Park.
Members of the Revolutionary War Honor Guard and the King's Highlanders Pipe and Drum Corps were dressed in full Revolutionary War outfits as the city marked the occasion. The Common Council unveiled a new sign dedicating the spot, and members of the White Plains Historical Society and the Daughters of the American Revolution remarked on the historical significance of the site.
"This is a great first step to giving this site the recognition that it truly deserves," said Robert Hoch, president of the White Plains Historical Society.
The battle was fought on Oct. 28, 1776 between George Washington's Continental Army and the British troops and Hessian soldiers led by General William Howe.
Hoch said that following the evacuation of Fort Independence, Washington recognized the strategic advantage of the spot and sent troops from New York, Delaware, Maryland, Massachusetts and Connecticut to defend it. The British troops advanced from the direction of New Rochelle, crossed the Bronx River and attacked with an artillery barrage from the area that is now Ridgeview Avenue.
The Americans were able to hold off the British for the first few assaults, but after getting flanked and then hit with the first cavalry charge of the war, they were forced to retreat. There were 400 to 500 casualties on both sides, Hoch said. After a storm hit the area on Oct. 30, the British withdrew to attack Fort Lee and Fort Washington.
"Washington considered this battle a humiliation, but what he didn't realize was the stand that the soldiers took here may very well have discouraged the troops from proceeding further into higher ground up into White Plains and North Castle and West Harrison," Hoch said.
"The position I take is that had we not defended Battle Hill the way it was defended, we could have lost the army and our young nation might not have continued," said Mayor Thomas Roach.
Roach said that the city worked closely with the Battle Hill Association and residents in the renaming and implementing improvements to the park. Upgrades include new lighting, new benches and seating, sidewalk repair and drainage work. Members of the Battle Hill Association also planted 250 new bulbs in the park.
"We want to highlight the real history that took place here, the history that was so important to our nation, and make sure we maintain it."