Oriskany Battlefield State Historic Site in Oriskany, New York

An unassuming park in central New York State commemorates the bloodiest battle of the Revolutionary War.

The Battle of Oriskany was fought on August 6, 1777 during the siege of Fort Stanwix, it was an attempt by Tories and British Iroquois allies to ambush a colonial relief column headed for the fort. Heavy rain and dogged defense by the colonists and their Oneida allies saved them from destruction. Today, a tall granite obelisk marks the battle’s location.

As British forces lay siege to Fort Stanwix, 800 Tryon County militia and Oneida warriors under General Nicholas Herkimer rushed to its defense. The British, however, were alerted to their approach and a force of approximately 1,200 British and Iroquois braves under Sir. John Johnson and Joseph Brant planned an ambush. Just six miles from their objective, in a marshy ravine, Seneca warriors waited for the column of Colonial militia.

Impatient, the Seneca warriors opened fire before completely entrapping the Colonial militia. General Herkimer was shot in the leg, but refused to be carried from the field. “I will face the enemy,” he said. A thunderstorm interrupted the fighting, giving the colonists time to establish a last line of defense on a hill while British reinforcements left their camps outside Fort Stanwix to join the battle. This allowed the Fort Stanwix defenders to sally forth and attack the British camps. Seneca Indians at the ambush site retreated to protect their camp, and the remaining British withdrew.

Continue reading “Oriskany Battlefield State Historic Site in Oriskany, New York”

Old Union Cemetery’s Ethereal Glow

A forgotten graveyard squirreled away in the cornfields of central Illinois makes for good storytelling, and almost all have their ghostly tales. Old Union is no exception. This cemetery first received attention on Troy Taylor’s website, Prairieghosts.com, and he later included it in Weird Illinois (2005).

Though he failed to disclose its location, Old Union Cemetery is clearly marked on cemetery and plat maps available to the general public through the DeWitt County Genealogical Society.

A history of the cemetery is difficult to find, and several sources appear, at first glance, to be fractional or contradictory. Troy Taylor provided a general overview on his website, but Genealogytrails.com, in an excerpt from an article entitled, “The Disciples of Christ History,” filled in some of the details.

According to the article, Old Union Church was established 10 miles west of Clinton on October 13, 1831 near a large, white oak tree. The stump of the tree, and “the gravestones of the cemetery which grew around the house of worship” are “silent sentinels of faded joys and departed glories,” the article opined.

Continue reading “Old Union Cemetery’s Ethereal Glow”

Battle of White Plains Historic Site in White Plains, New York

The hustle and bustle of city life obscures the grounds over which two armies fought one of the largest battles of the Revolutionary War.

The Battle of White Plains was fought on October 28, 1776 during George Washington’s retreat from New York City during the Revolutionary War. Washington positioned his depleted Continental Army on hills near White Plains, New York. British General William Howe, with 13,000 men, drove the Continental Army off strategic high ground, but poor weather allowed them to escape. Today, the battle is memorialized by several small monuments and interpretive signs at a park.

In late October 1776, following the battles at Harlem Heights and Pell’s Point, General Washington withdrew northward to counter an attempted encirclement by General Howe. He established 3-mile long defensive positions, including two lines of earthworks, anchored by swampy land near the Bronx River on one flank and Chatterton’s Hill on the other.

The British plan was to attack the Continental’s right flank at Chatterton’s Hill. Hessians under the command of Colonel Johann Rahl crossed the Bronx River and occupied a hill on the extreme right while British cannon pounded the defenders on the hill. After fierce fighting, the Hessians outflanked Continental positions, and a charge by cavalry dragoons drove them off the hill. Heavy rain delayed further attack, and by the time General Howe advanced on November 1, Washington’s army was gone.

Continue reading “Battle of White Plains Historic Site in White Plains, New York”