The Morris-Jumel Mansion and the Battle of Harlem Heights

By: Dylan Rodgers

High atop Mt. Morris in Harlem Heights stands the oldest surviving house in Manhattan.  The Morris-Jumel Mansion was built in 1765 by British Colonel Roger Morris and is by no means a modest dwelling.  The Palladian style estate boasts 8,500 square feet with a second story balcony and a two-story portico supported by classic white columns.  It is the first of its kind in the Americas.  Each room is decorated with diverse, eclectic art objects from delicate vases to astoundingly intricate and meticulously built furniture.

Around 1776 Colonel Roger Morris, being a colonel of the British Army, was ousted from the colonies during the Revolutionary War.  George Washington commandeered the Morris-Jumel Mansion as his headquarters, strategically using its height and massive view of New York City to his advantage until the Battle of Harlem Heights on September 16th 1776.

 

During the Battle, Washington and his group of Continentals totaling 1,800 men held a series of positions on top of Mt. Morris and the Morris-Jumel Mansion against the attack of 5,000 British soldiers.  During an attempted retreat by Washington and his men, the British tried to shame Washington by sounding a fox hunting call announcing that the fox, George Washington, was running from the hounds, the British Army.  This only succeeded in enraging the Continental Army who then held their position and won the battle.

For the Morris-Jumel Mansion to have survived 246 years time, especially as a key strong-hold in the Revolutionary War, it is a priceless historical treasure that we in New York have the privilege to enjoy.

For more information on the Morris-Jumel Mansion, including a still-picture tour of the estate itself, click here.