Samuel W Durant.

History of Oneida County, New York : with illustrations and biographical sketches of some of its prominent men and pioneers online

. (page 35 of 192)
Online LibrarySamuel W DurantHistory of Oneida County, New York : with illustrations and biographical sketches of some of its prominent men and pioneers → online text (page 35 of 192)
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German Flats; Peter James Weaver, German Flats; Mi-
chael Widrick, Schuyler ; Lawrence Wrenkle,* Fort Her-
kimer; Dr. Moses Younglove,! surgeon ; Captain Robert
Yates; Nicholas Yerdon.f' Minden.

We will close the account of Oriskany with the following
beautiful poem, written by the Rev. C. D. Helmer, of
Chicago, and read at the centennial celebration on the

"peak to ORISKANT.

" Belcagurcd men of Stanwix, brave as those
Who faced a million of their foes

At old ThermopylDO ;
Good cheer to you upon the wild frontier I
For citizens in arms draw near,

Across Orisliany.

" But hark ! amidst the forest shades the crash
Of arms, -the savage yell, — with flash

Of gory tomahawk ;
For Johnson's Royal Greens, St. Leger's men.
And Brant's Red Fiends are in that glen

Of dark Oriskany.

" From down the valley where the Mohawk flows.
Were hurrying on to meet their foes,

The patriot yoemanry ;
For Gansevoort within his fortress lay,
In peril, and besieged that day,

Beyond Oriskany.

" As men who fight for home, and child, and wife,
As men oblivious of life

In holy martyrdom.

The yeomen in the valley fought that day,

Throughout thy fierce and bloody fray, — ■

Blood-red Oriskany.

" From rock, and tree, and clump of twisted bush
The hissing gusts of battle rush, —

Hot-breath'd and horrible !
The roar and smoke, like mist on stormy seas,
Sweep through thy splintered trees, —
Hard-'fought Oriskany.

" Heroes are born in such a chosen hour,
From common men they rise and tower,

Like thee, brave Herkimer !
Who, wounded, steedlcss, still beside the beech
Cheered on thy men with sword and speech,

In grim Oriskany.



" Now burst the clouds above the battle's roar,
. Anil from. the pitying skies down pour
Swift floods, tumultuous J*
.Then fires of strife' unqtienched flame out again
Dretiching with hot and blbody rain
Thy soiVOriskany.

'^ But ere the sun went towards the tardy night,
The valley then beheld the light

Of Freedom's victory ;
, And wooded Tryon snatched from British arms
The empire of a million farms
On bright Oriskany.

" The guns of .Stanwix thunder to the skies ;
The rescued wilderness replies,- ,

Forth dash the garrison !
And routed Tories, with, their savage aids,
Sink, reddeniug, through the sullied shades,

From lost Oriskany.

'' Behold, Burgoyne, with hot and hatiiig eyes !
. The New -World's flag at last o'er flies
■ Yoiir ancient heraldry ;
For over Stanwix- floats, triumphantly^
The rising Banner of the Free, — ■
Beyond Oriskany.

" A hundred years have passed since then, .
Ana hosts now' rally, there again

To crown the century j '
The proud posterity of noble men
Who conquered in the bloody glen

Of famed Oriskany."


Since concluding the history of Oriskany we have been
favored with the perusal of a fragmentary document found
among the papers of Colonel Henry Livingston, of the Rev-
olutionary army, which throws a little additional light on
the battle of Oriskany. The fragment includes a risumd of
the total losses in the British army during, the campaigns
of Burgoyne and St. Leger. It reads as follows :

"British prisoners by capitulation 2442

Foreigners.. 219S

Sent to Canada: : .■. ' 1100

General Burgoyne and statf, among whom are six mem-
bers of Parliament , 12

Sick and wounded^ : 589

Prisoners of war before the surrender .., 400

Deserters .300

Lost at Bennington 1200

Killed between ITth Sept. and 18th October 600

Taken at Ticonderoga j 413

Killed at IJarkemau'H liattU^ * 300

Total V 9554

"37 Brass Cannon, Royals, and Mortars, Implements, and stores

" 5000 Stand of arms, 400 Sett of Harness, a number of ammunition
wagons, 6 field-pieces at Bennington, Taken at Fort Schuyler, 2 field-
pieces and 4 Royals. Indians, Drawers, Sutlers, etc., excepted."

It will be seen that St. Leger's loss at Oriskany is placed
at 300 killed. This probably covers his total during the


The subject of a grand celebration of the centennial
anniversary of the battle of Oriskany, on the memorable
field, began to be discussed, many months in advance, in
the columns of every journal in the Mohawk Valley, and

* Oriskany,

many others throughout the country. OtKet sections had
been celebrating the various centennials of 1875 and 1876,
and there was a general fueling thsit on6 of the most im-
portant events of the Revolution, but which so few people
in the nation seemed to understand, should be duly honored
with appropriate civic and military ceremonies.

The Oneida Historical Society, located at Utica, was
designated, by common consent, as the most proper organi-
zation to take charge of the matter, and a special meeting
was held in Utica, on the 8th of June, 1877, at which the
following preamble and resolutions were adopted :

"One hundred years from August 6, 1S77, there occurred, near the
junction of the Oriskany and Mohawk streams, the most desperate and
sanguinary, and one of the most important battles of the Revolution.
On that spot the whole tailitary force of the Mohawk Valley, proceed-
ing to the relief of besieged Foi-t Stanwix, encountered the invading
army, and nearly one-half laid down their lives in defense of. home and
country. This conflict prevented the union of the invaders with Bur-
goyne at the Hudson, and contributed to his surrender.

"It is eminently proper, in this era of centennial celebrations of the
RevolutioU, that this event should be suitably combaemorated. The
battle of Oriskany is the prominent feature of Revolutionary hifitory
in this section. It seems to devolve upon the Oneida Historical Society,
as nearest to the locality, to take the initiatory steps, and to invite the
co-operation of other organizations and individuals,- throughout the
Mohawk -Valley, in an. appropriate and worthy celebration ftf this
memorable Conflict, upon its hundredth anniversary; therefore,).

" Jiesolved, That a meeting be held on the 19th day of 2 p.m.,
at the Common Council Chamber, in Utica, to make arrangements for
the centenUial celebration of" the battle of Oriskany oh the battle-
ground. ■

"Resolved, That all organizations desirous of participating are cor-
dially invited to send representatives to said meeting.

" lieaoloed, That the chair appoint, a committee of arrangements to
represent this society, and that it' shall be the duty of this'comraittce
U> issue all proper, invitations, and make- all necessary airrangemcnts
for such meeting.*'

The committee appointed consisted of the following-
named gentlemen : S. Daring, R. S. Williams, C. W.
Hutchinson, T. P. Ballou, M. M. Jones, Utica; George
Graham, Oriskany; D. E. Wager, S. G. Visscher, Rome;
E. North, Clinton; E. Graves, Herkimer; Webster Wag-
ner, Palatine Bridge.

The invitation was warmly responded to throughout the'
Mohawk Valley. Meetings of citizens and organizations
were at once held, and delegates appointed to represent tliera
on the 19thof Jiine. At that meeting a programme of the
necessary committees for the celebration was adopted.

Ex-Governor Horatio Seymour was chosen by acclama-
tion president of the day, and the following general com-
mittee of arrangements was appointed:

^^ica.^Charles W. Hutchinson, S, S. Lowery, H. D.
Talcott, Sylvester Dering, P. F. Bulger.

Rome.-^JosQiph. Poi'ter, S. G. Visscher^ D. E. Wager,
D. L: Stevens.

Whifeslown. — Philo White.

Oi-ukaiiT/. — George Graham,. David S. LandFear, AlonzO
I. King, Isaac Uonda.

Clinton.—O. S. Williams.

Lewis Connf I/.— Garrett L. Roof.

Ileikimer Co «?i/^ .^Samuel Earl, A. M. McKee, C. A.
Moon, Peter F. Bellinger, Eli Fox, George Tlmmerman,
W. H. H. Parkhurst.

Madison County. — C. A, Walrath!



Mmiigfimery CounfyJ- — Simeon Sammons, John H. Sta-
rirt; Webster Wagner, Dow A. Fonda, Jeptha R. Simuis,
Alfred Wagner, Stephen Sandford.

Fulton County. — Mclntyre Fraser, John A. Wells.

Schetiectadt/. — William Wells.

" Sub-committees on invitations, monument, military,
firemen, groutidk, transportrition, reporters, etc., were also
named. At a subsequent meeting of the general commit-
tee of arrangements, Alfred J. Wagner, of Fort Plain, was
unanimously chosen grand marshal, and Daniel T. Everts,
of Utica, was made chief of staff."

The celebration was a grand success. The day was all
that could be desired, and the people flocked by uncounted
thousands to the historic ground. They came from all
parts Gf the State, and those of the Mohawk Valley in par-
ticular turned out en masse. Good judges estimated the
total number upon the ground at from 60,000 to 75,000.
It was probably the largest gathering ever seen in the
State, outside one or two of the larger cities.

All the civic and military organizations, societies, and
orders of _ Oneida, Herkimer, Montgomery, and Fulton
counties, and perhaps others were represented, and the dis-
play was exceedingly fine.

We present a few extracts from the Centennial volume,
descriptive of the scene as the vast procession came upon
the grounds :

"As the head of the column reached the military organizations
located along the route, salutes were fired and the troops came to a
' present.* Both sides of the road were lined with' people, who cheered
enthusiastically the carriage containing Governor Seymour, Mrs. Lan-
sing, and the old flag of Fort Stanwix.

"The location of the 21st Brigade, the ITtica Citizens' Corps, and
Adjutant Bacon Cadets was an admirable one, — on the north hill-side.
General Doring and the Rome cavalry troops came riding over the hill
as the column approached. The 26th Battalion remained back on the
hill, white the corps stood at 'present' itt the front and centre of the
field, the Adjutant Bacon Cadets on the left, and the Rome division- on
the north side of the road. An elevation in. the road gave all a mag-
nificent view of the grand panoramic beauty of the Mohawk Valley ami
the hills beyond, brilliant with emerald hues. Salutes, cheers, and
waving handkerchiefs greeted the column from' all directions. ... In
passing the ravine where so many of General Herkimer's brave men
fell one hundred years ago, all the troops honored the spot by copiing
to a carry, and the colors were dipped. These honors were the occasion
of still more enthusiastic cheering.

"The head of the column reached the entrance to the battle-field,
west of the ravine, at 12.20 p.m., or one hour and ten minutes after
leaving Oriskany. It led on over the route taken by General Herkime-,
in 1777, to the west of the field, wheeled to the north, and moved on
to the line of the grand marshal's field-quarters; then to the east, past
the grand stand, where- Governor Seymour and Mrs. Lansing, with the.
old flag, the orators, and distinguished guests, alighted, — the column
moving around the amphitheatre to the south and west again, until a
hollow square was formed around the amphitheatre and grand stand.
Thecolumn occupied just an hour in passing a given point near the field.

" From the grand marshal's tent the view presented at the time of
the moving of the column on the field was one that never can be for-
gotten. The amphitheatre seemed to be formed for the occasion. It
commanded a view of the whole of the grounds, with the exception of
the centre of the southern portion of the ravine. The eminence on
the east side, with Camp Seymour, the camps on the south side of the
road, the village of .booths and-tents, the brilliant military display, and,
more imposing than all, the constantly moving mass of humanity that
covered every portion of the field and all its surroundings, farmed a,
pitnoramie view that has never been surpassed, if equaled, in this
State. ... In addition to' the masses within vifew, the road between
Oriskany and Rome was filled with people, and a,ll the field? for miles
around were occupied at noon."


Tlie vast concourse was called to order by John F. Sey-;
mour, chairman of the Generals Committee of Arrange-
ments, and Chief-of-Staff Everts announced the order of

After prayer by Rev. Dr. E. M. Van Deuseij, of Grace
Church, Utica, Governor Seymour was introduced by Mr.
Graham, of Oriskany, and delivered the welcoming address.

Governor Seymour's lectures and addresses upon the his-
tory of his State and nation are always original, scholarly,
and interesting, and we deem no apology necessaiy for re-
producing his remarks upon this occasion, which were as

" All who care for the glory of cur couDtry ; all who love to study^
the history of events whioh have shaped our .civilization, govevnment,
and laws; all who seek to lift up the virtues. of out people by filling
their minds with lofty standard of patriotism, will rejoice that we meet
here to-day on this battle-iield to honor the .couvag,e and devotion dis-
played here one hundred years ago. The sacred duty in which we are
engaged does not merely concern the memories of the dead, — it teaches
the duties and elevates the character of the Jiving., The command that
we honor our fathers is .not only a religious requiirement, but it is a
grave maxim of jurisprudence. ThoBe.who think and speak of virtue
and patriotism soW in their own and in the^^minds of others the seeds
of virtue and patriotism.. The men of the valloy of the Mohawk will
be wiser and better for this gathering upon the spot where their i'athers
fought and suffered and bled to uphold the cause of this country.

" The preparations for this celebration, the events of the day, the.
facts which will be brought to light, the dutiqs whioh will be taught,
will in some degree tell upon the character of erery man before mo.
They will do more. They will revive the legends of the past in erery
household in the valley. They will give them currency among all
classes, and weave them into woof and warp of popular knowledge.
Much that was dying out will be revived and stamped upon the mem-
ories of the oncoming generation. This celebration makes our hills
and streams teachers of virtue- It gives new interest to the course of
our river and our valley. For, henceforth, they will recall to our minds
more clearly the events of the past. Every spot, noted for some stir-
ring act will hereafter, as we pass them by, remind us' of the. deeds of
our fathers. The old churches and houses built when Britain .ruled
our country, and which were, marred by war when th 13 valley was
desolated by torch and tomahawk, will grow more sacred in our
eyes. Their time-worn walls will teach us, in their silent way, to
think of suffering, of bloodshed, of ruthless savages, more dreadful and
prolonged than were endurqd elsewhere during the Revolutionary

" We are this day bring jng. out the events of our country' in their
true light. Historians have done ujuch, and well, in making up the
records of the pMt. But their recitals 'have not yet become^ as they
should be, a part of the, general intelligence of our people. Views
are distorted by local prejudices. Events are not Seen in their due
proportion, or with proper perspectives.. This is mainly dne to the
neglect of its history by New York. There is a dimness in the popu-.
lar vision about this great centre, source, and theatre of events which
have shaped the civilization, usages, and government of this conti-
nent. This is not only a wrong to our State, but to our Union. It
has left the annals of other sections disjointed from their true rela-
tionships to the great body of our traditions. This want of an under-
standing of the affairs of New York has been to the histoi'y of our
country what the conquest by Britain of its -strongholds during the
Revolution would have been to the American causes It has broken its
unity. It has made a broad field of separation between its paths,
which has made it difficult to get clear conceptions of its unity .and its

' central sources.^ -,

! " Let us who live along the couiso of the Mohawk now enter upon,
our duty of making ite history as familiar as household words. Let
U8 see that the graves of dead patriots are marked by monuments.
Let suitable structures tell the, citizens of mother States and countries,
when they pass along our thoroughfares, where its great events were
enac;tcd. And let all this be done in a way that shall stir our hearts
and educate our minds. Let it not be done by virtue of an act of
Legislature, but by virtue of our own efforts and patriotism-. Let us
not look' elsewhere for aid when we would honor the memories of those



who here served their country in the heart of our State. To my mind
this would he as unfit as for that family whose circle has been hroken
by death to let strange', s come in and perform the last sacred ofiice to
their departed kindred. Let uur colleges teach their students the
history of the jurisprudence of New York, and it will make them
wiser citizens wlien they enter upon the duties of life. Let our more
youthful scholars be taught the events and traditions which make our
hills instinct with glowing interest. Let the family circle by the fii'e-
side learu the legends of our valley, and let the mother with glowing
pride tell to her offspring what those of their own bhrod and lineage
did for their country's welfare, so that patriotism shall be kindled at
each hearthstone. Let the rich man give of his abundance, and the
poor what he can, with a willing heart; and then when monuments
shall stand on this field, or on other spots consecrated by the ashes of
those who perished for their country, such monuments will not only
show that the memories of the dead have been honored, but that the
living are intelligent, virtuous, and patriotic.

" When Europeans first came to our shores, they found the region
stretching from the Atlantic to the Mississippi, from the great lakes to
the centre of the present State of North Carolina, under the control of
the Iruquoia, They gained their power by their possession of the
strongholds of this State. From these they followed the diverging
valleys, which gave them pathways into the country of their enemies,
who were divided by the chains of mountains which separated the
rivers after they had taken their courses from the highlands of New
York. For more than a century a contest in arms and diplomacy was
carried on between Great Britain and France for the control of the
system of the mountains and rivers of this State, which made the
Iroquois the masters of all the adjacent tribes. Albany, at the con-
fluence of the Mohawk and Hudson, became the colonial capital of the
British settlements. It was the point from which, during all the long
years of the French war, most of the military expeditions were sent
forth. It was the place at which were held the meetings of the agents
of the several colonies, and at which they learned the value of co-
operation and conceived the idea of a union of the colonies. Most of
the Revolutionary struggle was marked by the same continuous effort
of the contending parties to gain control of the commanding positions
of this State. When our independence was achieved, the valleys
which had been the war-paths of savage and civilized armies became
the great thoroughfares through which the still mightier armies of
immigration from Burope iind the East filled the interior of our con-
tinent. At our feet are railroads and water routes that have been for
a series of years the thoroughfares for a vast current of commerce, and
the greatest movement of the human race recorded in its history.

" All other movements, in war or peace, arc insignificant in compar-
ison with the vast numbers that have passed along the borders of this
battle-field to find homes in the great plains of the West, to organize
social systems, and to build up great States. The histories of our coun-
try which fail to set forth cloiirly the events of this great central point
are as obscure and as defective as would be an attempt to desoiibe the
physical aspects of the country, and yet should omit a mention of the
great streams of our land on the highlands of our StUe, which fiow
from them into the cold waters of the Gulf of St. Lawrence, into the
tepid currents of the Gulf of Mexico, or the great bays of New York,
of the Delaware and GhesapciLke. The currents of events which dis-
tinguish our history, like the currents of our rivers, have largely had
their origin in our territory.

"To the ceremonies of this day, in honor of those who battled for
Americaq liberty in the past, and in the faith that this day^s proceed-
ings will promote virtue aqd patriotism in the future, we extend a wel-
come to all in attendarjce here; to the State officials who honor us by
thoir presence ; to citizens and soldiers who manifest their gratitude to
those who saorificel so much on this ground for the public welfare.

*' It is with no ordinary feelings that we meet with the descendants
of those who fought at the battle of Oriskany,^one of the most tierce
and bloody contests of the Kevolution. As we saw them coming along
the course of the Mohawk the past seemed to be recalled. When wc
look at the array from the upper valley and those who sallied from Fort
Stanwix to join ns here, wc feel reinforced by friends, as our fathers,
from the same quarteia. We welcome all to this celebration of patri-
otic sorviee and sjuirifice. When it is closed we shall bid you God-speed
to your several homes, with the prayer that in your different walks of
life you will do your duty as manfully and serve your country as faith-
fully as the men who battled so bravely on this ground one hundred
years ago."

Among other mementos exhibited on the ground was
the old flag of the 3d New York Regiment, which had
been preserved in the Gansevoort family, and which is now
the property of Mrs. Abraham Lansing, of Albany, who had
been persuaded to bring the time-worn relic to be exhibited
at the centennial celebration. The concluding remarks of
Governor Seymour refer to this lady and the flag :

" It is a j.ust source of patriotic pride to those who live in this valley
that the flag of our country (with the stars and stripes) was first dis-
played in the face of our enemies on the banks of the Mohawk. Here
it was baptized in the blood of battle. Here it first waved in triumph
over a retreating foe. When the heroic defenders of Fort Stanwix
learned in that remote fortress the emblem adopted by the Contincntjil
Congress for the standards to be borne by its armies, they hastened to
make one in accordance with the mandate, and to hang it out from the
walls of their fortress. It was rudely made of such materials cut from
the clothing of the soldiers as were fitted to show its colors and its
designs. But no other standard, however skillfully wrought upon
silken folds, could eq^ual in interest this first flag of our country worked
out by the unskilled hands of brave men, amid the strife of war, and
under the fire of beleaguering foes. It was to rescue it from its peril
that the men of this valley left their homes and marched through the
deep forest to this spot.

" It was to uphold the cause of which it was the emblem that they
battled here. Time has destroyed that standard. But I hold in my
hand another banner hardly less sacred in its associations with our
history. It is the flag of our State, which was boine by the regiment
commanded by Colonel Gansevoort, not only here at the beginning of
the'Kevolutionary war, but also when it was ended by the sunender
of the British army at Yorktown. The brave soldier who carried it
through so many contests, valued it above all eaithJy possessions. Ho
left it as a precious heir-loom to his family. They have kept it with
such faithful care that again, after a century has rolled away, its folds
can be displayed in this valley to another generation, who will look upon
it with a devotion equal to that felt by those who followed it on the
battle-fields of the Kevolution. AYhen it is now unfurled, let it re-
ceive the military honors accorded to it a hundred years ago; and let
us reverently uncover our heads in memory of the dead who watched
and guarded it through the bloodshed and perils of nucient war."

John F. Seymour then unfurled the old flag, at the si»'^ht
of which the immense audience gave three hearty cheers,
the military presented arms, and the bands played the
"Star Spangled Banner." The Fultonville battery fired a
salute, and cheer after cheer was given by the multitude.

In alluding to the lady who owned the flag, Governor

Online LibrarySamuel W DurantHistory of Oneida County, New York : with illustrations and biographical sketches of some of its prominent men and pioneers → online text (page 35 of 192)