The Battles of Klock’s Field and Stone Arabia

Photo by Michael Kleen

A small museum preserves the Mohawk Valley’s Revolutionary War heritage and the memory of these two dramatic but little-known skirmishes.

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The Battles of Klock’s Field and Stone Arabia were fought on October 19, 1780 between American and Oneida forces commanded by Brig. Gen. Robert Van Rensselaer, Chief Louis Atayataronghta, and Col. John Brown and British and Iroquois forces commanded by Lt. Col. Sir John Johnson and Captain Joseph Brant along the Mohawk River east of St. Johnsville, New York during the American Revolutionary War. The Battle of Stone Arabia was a British victory, but American reinforcements turned the tide later that day at Klock’s Field.

During the Revolutionary War, the Mohawk Valley in central New York was the scene of brutal fighting between patriots committed to American independence and loyalists committed to remaining under the British Crown. Many settlements and homesteads were raided and burned. On the morning of October 19, 1780, Sir John Johnson and Joseph Brant led a small army of 900 men on a raid into the Mohawk Valley.

They were met by Col. John Brown and 380 militiamen from Fort Paris near Stone Arabia east of Fort Plain. The Battle of Stone Arabia was brief. Col. Brown, having walked into an ambush, was shot from his horse and killed, alongside approximately 30 of his men. Some survivors escaped to Fort Paris, while others fled toward Fort Plain, where they met Brig. Gen. Van Rensselaer and warned him of the British approach.

Van Rensselaer and approximately 1,500 men delayed crossing the Mohawk River, so they did not commence attack on the British raiders until that evening. Meanwhile, the British destroyed Stone Arabia and even burned its two churches to the ground.

Sir Johnson then arrayed his forces in defensive positions along a broad front, with Joseph Brant’s Iroquois warriors and a detachment of German Yagers facing Patriot volunteers and Oneida warriors. After a fierce fight around Johannes Klock’s farm, in which American forces severely outflanked their opponents, the British-allied Indians fled.

Van Rensselaer, however, withdrew the rest of his army as darkness fell rather than follow up the victory. The British raiders escaped, leaving behind 40 prisoners and an unknown number of dead and wounded. The Americans lost approximately 8 killed, for a total of 39 that day.

Fought between Great Britain and her Thirteen American Colonies from 1775 to 1883, the Revolutionary War led to a Declaration of Independence and the formation of the United States of America in 1776. The Thirteen Colonies won their independence, at the cost of an estimated 158,000 British, American, French, German, Spanish, and American Indian lives. It was a dynamic and surprisingly international conflict.

The 1750 stone house built by Johannes Klock is now open to the public as Fort Klock Historic Restoration. It was abandoned in the 1950s but is currently a National Historic Landmark and was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1972. A private farm sits over the Stone Arabia battlefield, but in August 2018 Fort Plain Museum received a $50,000 American Battlefield Protection Program Grant to determine the boundaries of the battlefield and work toward its preservation.

Fort Klock Historic Restoration is located at 7214 New York Route 5 south of St. Johnsville, New York. It is open seasonally May through Columbus Day and there is a small entrance fee. Call (518) 568-7779 for more information. Fort Plain Museum & Historical Park is located at 389 Canal Street in Fort Plain, New York. Its operating hours change monthly, so call (518) 993-2527 or email info@fortplainmuseum.org before visiting. The Stone Arabia marker is located along Ephratah Road at 42°55’39.6″N 74°33’24.6″W, north of Canajoharie, New York.

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Author: Michael Kleen

Michael Kleen is an author, raconteur, and occasional traveler. He has a M.A. in History and M.S. in Education. He enjoys studying military history, folklore, and philosophy.

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