Richard Borkow, the Dobbs Ferry village historian, recently released a book based on the historical events in Greenburgh, N.Y. that helped shape the outcome of the Revolutionary War. Borkow's book is titled "George Washington's Westchester Gamble" and is based on the summer of 1781. It details the story of George Washington's encampment in Westchester County and the ensuing march to Virginia.
Borkow was appointed village historian in 2007 after having lived in Dobbs Ferry for 30 years. As a day job, Borkow works as a doctor at the Blythdale Children's Hospital, where he specializes in pediatric rehabilitation.
His book is a history lesson that goes into great detail to explain to readers just how important Dobbs Ferry and surrounding areas were to the Revolutionary War. As the drawn out war was taking a turn for the worse, George Washington realized that the Americans needed a momentum swing if there was any chance at winning the war.
"1781 was the last chance for the United States," Borkow said. Washington set up camp in the areas surrounding Dobbs Ferry, including villages that would later be known as Ardsley and Hastings-on-Hudson.
Washington set up encampments in New York, spanning Dobbs Ferry, Ardsley, Hartsdale, Edgemont and White Plains, where he decided it offered the best chance of defeating the British, who controlled much of the south and most of New York. But why this area? As Borkow explains it, Dobbs Ferry's proximity to New York City, where the British were mainly aligned, was easily defendable due to all the mountainous terrain and high ground. The British were a mere 12 miles south of Dobbs Ferry as Washington devised a plan of attack, which was a "desperate hope" on his part, according to Borkow.
"The strategy to win the war was designed here in Greenburgh in 1781," Borkow said.
Washington eventually ended up leading his troops on a march down to Virginia where, along with the French, they surrounded British General Charles Cornwallis and forced him to surrender.
"It made all the difference," Borkow said. "It ultimately brought the war to an end."
If you want to learn more about the role Dobbs Ferry played in the Revolutionary War you can visit Burkow's official site or purchase his book here . When asked why he took this project upon himself, which he completed in nine months, Burkow said he wanted to help educate the public.
"There is increasing interest in this story," he said. "[I wanted to inform people because] I learned of the march and I was just astonished."
Burkow will be on hand for a book signing at the Dobbs Ferry Historical Society at the Mead House Sunday from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m.
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