Oriskany Battleground

Location
Whitestown, Oneida County, New York, USA
Memorials 182 added (26% photographed)

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The Oriskany Battleground is the site of one of the American Revolution's bloodiest battles. It lies partially in the Town of Rome and partially in the Town of Whitestown in Oneida County, New York and straddles New York State Route 69 about 2 miles west of the Village of Oriskany. On the morning of August 6th, 1777 General Nicholas Herkimer wrote Colonel Peter Gansevoort that he was en route to reinforce and resupply "New" Fort Schuyler (now known as Fort Stanwix) with 1000 men ("Diary of the Siege of Fort Stanwix", possessed by Lieutenant William Colbreath). The force under General Herkimer consisted entirely of Tryon County men, with the exception of possibly one volunteer from the Schenectady District Regiment of Albany County Militia. In General Herkimer's letter he asked Gansevoort to reinforce him immediately if gunfire should be heard. Unfortunately, Gansevoort without hesitation, ordered Lieutenant Colonel Marinus Willett and 200 men with two field pieces to march down the road to meet Herkimer. After a delay of two hours, due to an unwillingness to march in the rain, Willett chose to raid the empty British Camps, leaving the Tryon County Militia to fend for itself. Of the Battle, James Dickson's Revolutionary War Pension Application #S22208) states . . . "This applicant was then marched to the German Flats (then called Fort Dayton) where the whole force amounting to seven Hundred men were rendezvoused. We then marched under the command of Genl Herkimer towards Fort Stanwix, but were met near Oriskany Creek about four miles from Fort Stanwix by a detachment of the enemy under the command of Major Watts amounting to above 1400 men. We were ambushed and Genl Herkimer was mortally wounded while the action was going on Lieutenant Col Willett sallied out of the fort and attackt the enemy in thir works. Their firing was heard by the party who attacked us and they returned to the Fort. We remained on the ground an hour after the enemy had left the ground but of our whole number but one hundred and thirty men were left for duty at the close of the action. Three Hundred and forty six of our men were killed and taken. We then returned to Fort Dayton and brought our wounded back to it" . . . The majority of those killed in the battle were left on the battleground and were never formally buried. In April of 1783, Lieutenant Alexander Thompson crossed the battleground en route to Oswego and reported seeing scores of skeletal remains belonging to the men of the Tryon County Militia strewn about the western slope of Oriska Hill. The names of only a small percentage of the dead are known. Many men, (e.g. Lieutenant Henry Timmerman, Christian Fink, John G. Snell, and Brigadier General Nicholas Herkimer) died during the retreat or in their homes later and thus their remains are not buried on the battleground. A few of the men (e.g. Colonel Ebeneezer Cox and Michael Levy (1782 List of Tryon County Men being held Prisoner by the Enemy found in the Revolutionary War Rolls)), who were believed to have been only wounded and in the hands of the enemy following the mêlée were decades later reported to have died in the battle. Also amongst the dead of the battle were thirty members of the Iroquois Confederacy, including "the minnister from Ochquago", as recorded in a "Cattle Book" belonging to Major Jellis Fonda of Caughnawaga (New York State Library Manuscript #SC7026). A memorial service is held on the battleground each year at 7:00 P.M. on August 6th.

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GPS Coordinates: 43.1767, -75.36934

  • Added: 4 Aug 2012
  • Find A Grave Cemetery: #2460287