Categories
Historic America Photography

Wilmington and Brandywine Cemetery in Wilmington, Delaware

Visit the final resting place of two Continental Congressmen, Civil War generals, and even a Cherokee chief.

Wilmington and Brandywine Cemetery, 701 Delaware Avenue in Wilmington, New Castle County, Delaware, is a small rural cemetery established in 1843. It encompasses a rectangular area of 25 acres, relatively flat on its western side with a steep eastern descent toward Brandywine Creek. It is the final resting place for over 21,000 former residents, including Richard Bassett, a signer of the U.S. Constitution, governors, congressmen, and even a Cherokee chief.

Gunning Bedford, Jr. (1747-1812)

Gunning Bedford, Jr. (1747-1812) was a member of the Continental Congress, Delaware’s State Attorney General, and a signer of the U.S. Constitution. Bedford was born and raised in Philadelphia, then attended the College of New Jersey (aka Princeton University). He briefly served as an aid to George Washington during the Revolutionary War.

John McKinly (1721-1796)
Categories
Historic America

The 1777 Van Cortlandtville Skirmish

A daring attack by outnumbered colonials routs a British raid, while a blue cloak captured in the skirmish later provided material for a U.S. flag flying above Fort Stanwix.

Click to expand photos

The Van Cortlandtville Skirmish was fought on March 24, 1777 between American patriot troops commanded by Lt. Col. Marinus Willett and a British raiding party commanded by Lt. Col. John Bird near modern-day Cortlandt, New York during the American Revolutionary War. The battle ended in American victory, with the British withdrawing back to their boats.

After being pushed out of New York City in 1776, George Washington established his headquarters in Peekskill along the Hudson River. He considered the area critical for keeping the Continental Army supplied. The British were well-aware, and in late March 1777, 500 British troops sailed up the Hudson River to raid Patriot farms and burn supplies. They landed at Peekskill Bay on March 23 and began pummeling Brig. Gen. Alexander McDougall‘s 250-man force on Fort Hill with artillery.

The following day, a force of 200 British troops marched northeast toward the Van Cortlandt family manor and began pillaging. Some became separated from the main body. Sensing an opportunity, Lt. Col. Marinus Willett, newly arrived with his 80-man detachment, persuaded McDougall to allow him to attack. His men fixed bayonets and charged the unsuspecting British raiders as the sun disappeared behind the horizon.

Categories
Historic America Photography

Yorktown Victory Monument

This striking monument commemorates the American-French victory over the British in the Siege of Yorktown (1781), which effectively ended the Revolutionary War. The Yorktown Monument to the Alliance and Victory was designed by architects R.M. Hunt and Henry Van Brunt and sculpted by J.Q.A. Ward in 1881, and completed in 1884. Lightning damaged the statue of liberty atop the column and Oskar J.W. Hansen sculpted a replacement in 1957.

Yorktown Victory Monument Detail
Categories
Mysterious America

Oriskany's Spectral Battlefield

Some visitors insist the sights, sounds, and smells of this bloody Revolutionary War ambush still linger after dark.

The Battle of Oriskany was fought on August 6, 1777 in Oneida County, New York during the siege of Fort Stanwix. It was an attempt by Tories and British Iroquois allies to ambush a Patriot relief column headed for the fort. Heavy rain and dogged defense by the colonists and their Oneida allies saved them from destruction. While Fort Stanwix is widely believed to be haunted, the Oriskany battlefield has its own reputation for the macabre.

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 were alerted to their approach and a force of approximately 1,200 British troops 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. The battle raged over several hundred yards. 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.

Categories
Historic America

The Battle of Mamaroneck, Oct. 1776

A surprise attack on Rogers’ Rangers ends in defeat for American forces in this little-known Revolutionary War skirmish.

Click to expand photos

The Battle of Mamaroneck (also known as the Skirmish of Heathcote Hill) was fought on October 22, 1776 between American patriot troops commanded by Col. John Haslet and British loyalist forces commanded by Maj. Robert Rogers in Westchester County, New York during the American Revolutionary War. The battle ended in British victory when Rogers’ men rallied and drove off their attackers.

Maj. Robert Rogers was the celebrated commander of an irregular force called Rogers’ Rangers during the French and Indian War. He stayed loyal to the British during the Revolution and formed the Queen’s Rangers. When George Washington retreated to White Plains, New York after a series of disastrous defeats, the Continental Army found Rogers’ 400-man regiment encamped at Mamaroneck, separated from the main British army.

The task fell on Col. John Haslet and his 750-man regiment, the “Delaware Blues”, to isolate and destroy Rogers’ force. They approached in total darkness, where they stumbled upon a well-placed advanced guard of 60 men. Though the Patriots overwhelmed them and captured 30 men, the struggle alerted Rogers to their attack.

Categories
Historic America Photography

Laurel Hill Cemetery in Philadelphia

Laurel Hill Cemetery, 3822 Ridge Avenue in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, is the second oldest rural cemetery in the nation. It was established in 1836 on 74 acres of land overlooking the Schuylkill River. Its lovely neoclassical gatehouse was designed in a Roman Doric style by architect John Notman (1810-1865). Laurel Hill was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1977 and designated a National Historic Landmark in 1998.

Brig. Gen. Hugh Mercer (1726-1777)

Brig. Gen. Hugh Mercer (1726-1777) was a Scottish-American physician who settled in Fredericksburg, Virginia and was a personal friend of George Washington. He fought in the French and Indian War and in the Continental Army during the Revolutionary War, where he was killed at the Battle of Princeton.

Maj. Gen. George Gordon Meade (1815-1872)

Maj. Gen. George Gordon Meade (1815-1872), nicknamed the “Old Snapping Turtle,” is most famous for commanding the Union Army of the Potomac at the Battle of Gettysburg. He commanded the V Corps during the Battle of Fredericksburg and replaced Maj. Gen. Joseph Hooker as commander of the army. His star faded after Gettysburg, however, as General Ulysses S. Grant personally directed operations in the Eastern Theater. He made Philadelphia his home and died of pneumonia brought on by his old war wounds.

Categories
Historic America

The Battle of Fort Slongo, Oct. 1780

George Washington personally awarded a Badge of Military Merit to a soldier wounded in the attack on Fort Slongo, making him the first recipient of what became known as the Purple Heart.

Click to expand photos

The Battle of Fort Slongo (aka Salonga) was fought on October 3, 1781 between American patriot forces commanded by Maj. Benjamin Tallmadge and British forces defending Fort Salonga on Long Island, New York during the American Revolutionary War. The Americans were successful in capturing the fort and all its supplies.

In the fall of 1781, the Continental Army was eager to strike a blow against British-occupied Long Island. Maj. Benjamin Tallmadge chose 50 men from Cpt. Richards’ company and 50 dismounted dragoons commanded by Cpt. Edgar to make an attack on the lightly garrisoned Fort Slongo. Maj. Trescott volunteered to lead the attack. The fort’s commander, Maj. Vanalstine, had gone to New York City and was not present at the battle.

Each force had a different mission. Edgar’s men would assault the garrison, while Richards’ men would surround it and make sure no one escaped. A picked group of ten dragoons led the attack, followed by Maj. Trescott and Cpt. Edgar and the remaining dragoons. The assault began at 3am and was over quickly. The Patriots captured 21 men and one brass cannon, while only sustaining one casualty.