5. Fort Lee is named after the site of George Washington’s encampment in 1776
The city of Fort Lee is named after Fort Lee, a Revolutionary War fort and encampment. Originally called Fort Constitution, Fort Lee was constructed at the same time as Manhattan’s Fort Washington in July 1776. Both forts were built to protect the lower Hudson from British attacks, and by September 1776, the fort was renamed after General Charles Lee of the Continental Army. A ferry connected the two forts, and while Fort Lee was occupied, George Washington used ferry owner Peter Bourdette’s home as his headquarters.
British and Hessian forces invaded New Jersey during the Battle of Fort Lee while Continental Army troops were fighting to hold Fort Washington. After the defeat of Continental troops, General William Howe ordered Charles Cornwallis to invade New Jersey, leading Cornwallis to bring between 2,500 and 5,000 troops across the river. British forces marched up the Palisades on a rough path, and Washington and Nathanael Greene ordered the evacuation of the fort on November 20. Washington retreated west, and it was during this retreat that Thomas Paine wrote his pamphlet “The American Crisis,” which began, “These are the times that try men’s souls.”