Old Stone Fort and the Battle of the Flockey

Photo by Michael Kleen

A roadside sign is all that marks the location of the first documented cavalry charge of the U.S. Army.

Click to expand photos

The Battle of the Flockey was fought on August 13, 1777 between Tory militia forces commanded by Capt. John MacDonald (McDonnell) and American militia and dragoons commanded by Col. John Harper and Capt. Jean-Louis De Vernejoux southwest of Middleburgh in Schoharie County, New York during the American Revolutionary War. The battle was an American victory and quelled the first Tory uprising on the New York frontier.

When the Revolutionary War broke out, the Mohawk and Schoharie Valleys were divided between Patriots supporting independence and Tories supporting the British Crown. When British Maj. Gen. John Burgoyne began his campaign down Lake Champlain toward Albany, British loyalists on the frontier rose up. Patriots fortified several buildings along Schoharie Creek (a Mohawk River tributary), including a stone church near present-day Schoharie.

Local loyalists led by John McDonnell, Adam Crysler, and tavern owner Capt. George Mann trapped 20 Patriots in Johannes Becker’s stone house near Middleburgh, which was later called Middle Fort. Col. Harper escaped and rode to Albany, where he enlisted help from a 28-man troop of 2nd Continental Light Dragoons commanded by French mercenary Jean-Louis De Vernejoux. He returned with the dragoons and freed the militia at Middle Fort. From there, they rode south to clear the valley of Tories.

The loyalist militia, numbering approximately 73 men, took up a concealed position on Adam Crysler’s farm near low drainage land called The Flockey. They fired on Capt. De Vernejoux and his dragoons as they came up the road. The two sides traded fire, and De Vernejoux quickly realized he was outnumbered. He ordered a cavalry charge, the first documented cavalry charge of the U.S. Army, and scattered his opponents. The loyalists fled into the woods, and heavy rain prevented any renewal of hostilities. One dragoon was killed and two wounded in the short engagement.

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.

Today, the old High Dutch (German) Reformed church, fortified in 1777 and called Lower Fort, is preserved as The Old Stone Fort Museum and is the only surviving of the three Schoharie Creek forts. A sign was erected in 1932 at the site of Middle Fort and a plaque embedded in stone marks the location of Upper Fort. A roadside sign also roughly marks the location of the Battle of the Flockey. Reenactments of the battle are held at The Old Stone Fort Museum.

The Old Stone Fort Museum is located at 145 Fort Road in Schoharie, New York and is open seven days a week, 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., May through October. Admission is $7. The Battle of the Flockey sign is located at 42°33’52.9″N 74°23’56.0″W, Upper Fort marker at 42°34’56.0″N 74°23’27.9″W, and Middle Fort sign at 42°36’21.2″N 74°20’18.6″W, all along NY-30, which runs parallel to Schoharie Creek. Parking for these signs is roadside only, so park at your own risk.

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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