Mystery of the “Negro Fort” by Nick Dembowski
During the American Revolution many hills of the West Bronx were covered with fortifications as the American Patriots, then later the British, made defending the area a priority. One of those forts, the Negro Fort, sat on a hill at today’s 186 St. George’s Crescent, which overlooked the historic Boston Post Road. But the history of its construction and the reason for its name remains something of a mystery due to a lack of historical documents.
The most exhaustive study of the fort that I have read is the impressive Archaeological Documentary Study written by archaeologists Julie Abell Horn and Cece Saunders of Historical Perspectives, Inc.
The archaeologists found three references to the Negro Fort in the memoirs of Patriot General William Heath, who led an attack on the British positions in Kingsbridge in January of 1777. It would seem that the Negro Fort was garrisoned by Captain Cook’s company of Black soldiers, who fought with the Queen’s Rangers, a British unit. No one has been able to find a document explaining who built the fort and when. However, one historical map depicts the “Negro Fort” and this map was apparently made in late 1776 or early 1777.