A Mohawk war chief turns the tables on his ambushers in this obscure Revolutionary War battle in the wilderness of southern New York.
The Battle of Minisink was a failed ambush carried out by colonial militia against Mohawk war chief Joseph Brant and his volunteers during the Revolutionary War. On July 22, 1779, Lt. Colonel Benjamin Tusten and his militia set up an ambush above the Delaware River at Minisink Ford, but attacked prematurely. Brant encircled the militia who didn’t flee and won a crushing victory for the British and their allies. Today, this remote location is memorialized with walking trails, interpretive signs, and a monument.
In the summer of 1779, the British sent Brant’s Volunteers to disrupt colonial preparation for the coming Sullivan Expedition, in which the colonials planned to punish Britain’s Iroquois allies with a scorched earth campaign. Brant’s Volunteers raided the Delaware Valley and headed north into New York. Local militia formed to oppose the movement, and Lt. Colonel Benjamin Tusten reluctantly took command. They were joined by Colonel John Hathorn and 120 minutemen.
Brant’s Volunteers crossed Minisink Ford on July 22. A militia captain prematurely fired on an Indian scout, alerting them to the ambush. Brant quickly surrounded the colonial force, many of whom fled. The remaining militia put up a tenacious defense, but eventually ran out of ammunition and were overwhelmed. The militia lost 48 killed and 1 captured to Brant’s 3 killed and 10 wounded.
The 57-acre park commemorating the battle includes picnic areas, a picnic pavilion, restrooms, and walking trails. An interpretive shelter displays information about the battle and the park itself. A self-guided Battle Trail takes you to the monument and prominent landmarks that played a role in the battle. The woodland trail is well-maintained, shade-covered, and picturesque.
Minisink Battleground County Park is located on the New York side of a bend in the Delaware River, south of York Lake, where Minisink Road meets York Lake Road (County Road 168). It is open daily Mother’s Day weekend through Columbus Day, 8 a.m. to dusk.