Oriskany Battlefield

Oriskany was an interesting Revolutionary War battle for several reasons. In terms of percent of troops engaged, it had the highest casualty rate of any battle in the war. It also illustrated a fact which is often forgotten about the Revolutionary War: it was also a civil war. Only about one-third of the American colonists supported independence from Britain, and another one-third were Loyalists who supported the British (the rest just wanted all the fighting to end). Among those who were divided were the local Native American tribes, particularly the Iroquois Confederation, some of which supported the Brits and some of which supported the colonials. At Oriskany, there were barely any British troops at all: one one side were Hessians and Mohawks allied with the British Crown along with units of Loyalist militia from the area, and on the other side were colonial militias, also from the area. It was, literally, brother against brother.

The Oriskany battle was part of the British General Burgoyne’s drive down from Canada into New York. Part of this strategy was to capture the colonial Fort Stanwyck, and a unit of colonial militia was dispatched to reinforce the fort before Burgoyne got there. Those militia were ambushed at Oriskany by a force of Loyalist militia, Hessians, and Mohawks. The Americans were able to drive off the attack, and the royalist forces withdrew to Canada, making them unavailable for Burgoyne’s subsequent battle at Saratoga.

Some photos from the battlefield.

My Ziggy the Snail Shell parked at the monument

The Visitor Center is small, but the park ranger (it’s a state park, not federal) was very knowledgable and eager to talk “history”

The ambush started where the road crosses this small creek

The colonials withdrew to this hill, where they formed a defensive circle

The fighting lasted for four hours

A monument to the soldiers

 

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