Sandy Hook Lighthouse, NJ
When the American Revolution began in 1775, there were eleven lighthouses on the coasts of the original thirteen colonies. These lighthouses became targets of control for both armies in order to control the shipping lanes.
The very first lighthouse in the country while under British control was Boston Light, built in 1716 by the Massachusetts Bay Colony. Other colonies followed suit and also built and operated lighthouses as aids to navigation and commerce.
In 1764, at the entrance to New York Harbor, the 103-foot Sandy Hook lighthouse was built.
But in March of 1776, fear of a British invasion of New York City spurred the Congress of New York to order the Continental Army to extinguish the Sandy Hook beacon and remove its lens. Major William Malcolm and his troops succeeded in making the light inoperable, thus thwarting the tower’s use for the enemy.
However, three months later, British troops had regained control of the tower, rigging a replacement lens to project a beacon for British ships. U.S. sailors retaliated by bombarding the tower in an attempt to extinguish the light again.
Although the light remained in British hands, the tower survived the bombardment and still stands today, bearing evidence of its injuries during the onslaught.
The Boston Light, however, didn’t survive the Revolution. The same month of the Sandy Hook battle, British troops blew up Boston Light. In fact, none of the other remaining nine lighthouses still survive.