Greater Ancestors

World Museum






Skulls and Skeletons of Men who Fell in the Assault on Fort Washington Brought to Light -Giant Remains of a Hessian Grenadier – What the Sewer Diggers Have Found.


In the course of the excavation for the new sewer along the line of Fort Washington Avenue the workmen opened out this week a large number of human bones as they approached the line of One Hundred and Eighty First Street. This part of the avenue is partly filled in ground, and after going down through about six or eight feet of loose material the original soil was reached, under which the bones were found.

From their position it would appear as if they had been placed in a trench, and the excavation cut along its length. The point is shown on the accompanying map, and is about seventy-five feet south of the southerly line of One Hundred and Eighty-first Street. In its natural condition this was a sloping bank extending from Fort Washington about 700 feet north of the little spring which feeds the brook descending to Inwood.

The remains are in all probability those of the dead in the assault and defense of the fort on Nov. 16, 1776, although there would naturally have been burials preceding and following that event in the respective garrisons of the fort.

One of the skeletons was to great size, nearly seven feet in length, and this would indicate its being the frame of a Hessian Grenadier, such another having been disinterred near Inwood on the line of the Hessian assault.

The bones rapidly crumbled and were mainly replaced below the sewer, but two skulls and some bones which were in condition to be handled have been placed in the guildroom of Holyrood Church near by, in the ground of which it is proposed to provide a place of suitable burial, when a monument can be provided to mark the spot.

At the same place are deposited some of the bones taken from the reputed site of the grave of Col. William Baxter of Bucks County, which were disinterred some years ago when the tower of the first Fort George Casino was being erected on the spot.

Some of the interesting features of the locality where the most recent find has been made ae indicated in the accompanying map.

  • The New York Times [June 22, 1922]