History of Battle Monument

Battle Monument is considered by many to be the most scenic and memorable landmark at West Point. It sits at the crest of Trophy Point, and overlooks a sharp S-turn and narrow bend in the Hudson River. That bend and high terrain served as one of the pivotal, strategic positions allowing the Colonial Army to thwart British efforts to control the Hudson River in 1777.

During the Revolutionary War, the British sought to control the Hudson Valley, and divide New England from the Mid-Atlantic. The Colonials established garrisons and defenses at multiple positions along the Hudson River to stop them. The garrison at West Point built a great chain made of iron ore links, each weighing 150 pounds. They erected the great chain as a barrier, crossing the narrows between West Point and Constitution Island, to block the British Navy. The Colonials then set in place artillery batteries on both sides of the river bend, to annihilate any British ships attempting to pass. Their successes at Saratoga, Fort Montgomery and West Point, played a pivotal role in allowing the Colonies to defeat the British.

Because of its scenic beauty, Trophy Point is among the most photographed places at West Point. Newly commissioned West Pointers often get married during the first days following graduation. Without fail, the bridal party will record a wide-angle photo of the group in front of Battle Monument. Since 1897, Battle Monument has been the most prominent feature of Trophy Point.

Battle Monument is inscribed with the names of 2,230 Union Army officers and soldiers that died as a result of injuries received during the Civil War. Although it commemorates the fallen officers from only the Union Army, West Point was the institution that trained and educated many of the commanding officers from both the Union and Confederate Armies of the American Civil War. It is because of this dichotomy, as a matter of pride and humor, West Point Cadets originating from Southern states will often refer to Battle Monument as, “The Monument to Confederate Marksmanship.”