Saturday, July 19, 2014

Fort Stanwix

Parish, New York High 79 Low 63

Maybe summer has finally arrived. We haven't had rain since we've been here.

Last evening I had to laugh to myself. I overheard some other campers talking and one of them said "it's sure nice to be able to come to the mountains for the weekend". What mountains? I haven't seen any mountains since we left South Dakota. The elevation here is just over 600 feet. Where we live the elevation is about 4300 feet and when we go to the mountains for the weekend the elevation is between 7000 and 8000 feet. It must be based on your perspective.

We went to Fort Stanwix National Monument. It is located in downtown Rome. It's claim to fame is based on one siege. Fort Stanwix was a colonial fort whose construction commenced on August 26, 1758, under the direction of British General John Stanwix, at the location of present-day Rome, New York, but was not completed until about 1762. The star fort was built to guard a portage known as the Oneida Carrying Place during the French and Indian War. Fort Stanwix National Monument, a reconstructed structure built by the National Park Service, now occupies the site.

Fort Stanwix was built to guard a portage on the main waterway that connected the Atlantic seacoast to the interior and the Mohawk River, to the east, with Wood Creek, to the west. Wood Creek led to Oneida Lake and ultimately to Oswego on Lake Ontario.
In 1768, Fort Stanwix was the site of an important treaty conference between the British and the Iroquois, arranged by William Johnson. By the time of this treaty, the fort had become dilapidated and inactive. The purpose of the conference was to renegotiate the boundary line between Indian lands and white settlements set forth in the Proclamation of 1763. The British government hoped a new boundary line might bring an end to the rampant frontier violence, which had become costly and troublesome. Indians hoped a new, permanent line might hold back white colonial expansion.
The final treaty was signed on November 5 and extended the earlier proclamation which happened much further west. The Iroquois had effectively ceded Kentucky to the whites. However, the Indians who actually used the Kentucky lands, primarily Shawnee, Delaware, and Cherokee, had no role in the negotiations. Rather than secure peace, the Fort Stanwix treaty helped set the stage for the next round of hostilities.
Fort Stanwix was abandoned in 1768 and allowed to go to ruin.

The fort was reoccupied by Colonial troops under the command of Colonel Elias Dayton on July 12, 1776. They began reconstruction and renamed it Fort Schuyler, although many continued to call it Fort Stanwix. Colonel Peter Gansevoort took over command of the fort on May 3, 1777.
On August 3, 1777 the fort was besieged by The King's 8th Regiment,[3] Loyalists, and Indians, under the command of Brigadier General Barry St. Leger, as part of a three-pronged campaign to divide the American colonies. Gansevoort refused the terms of surrender offered by the British, and the siege commenced.
According to local folklore, when the Colonial troops raised the flag over the fort on August 3, 1777, it was the first time that the Flag of the United States was flown in battle. It is more likely that the flag flown at Fort Schuyler was one that consisted only of thirteen stripes, an early version of the Flag of New York, or the Grand Union Flag.[4]
The Battle of Oriskany was fought a few miles away when an American relief column, led by General Nicholas Herkimer, was ambushed by Tories and their Indian allies. While many of the besiegers were attending to that battle, the defenders of the fort sallied forth and attacked the enemy camp, looting and destroying enemy stores. Demoralized and reduced in strength, the British withdrew when they heard reports of the approach of yet another relief column, led by General Benedict Arnold. The British forces withdrew through Canada and joined Burgoyne's campaign at Fort Ticonderoga.
The British failure to capture the fort and proceed down the Mohawk Valley was a severe setback and helped lead to the defeat of General John Burgoyne at the Battle of Saratoga.

The one lose the British had were believed to have changed the way the Revolutionary War was going and turned it in the Colonists favor. The guide mentioned that it helped persuade  the French join with the Colonists which were a great help in winning the War.

When we went into the Fort by was of the what is believed to be the type of draw bridge that was there at that time. We were greeted by park rangers dressed in the clothing worn in 1777. The guard at the gate looked like a colonial soldier, while our guide was dressed in simpler clothing. It had been mended and his vest was very worn. He also had a long single braid on the back of his head. They both were wearing beaver hats.

His is a sharp looking uniform, unlike the farmer turned soldier the other one was wearing.

We were shown the Commanders quarters first. they were a lot nicer than the others. We were told by the guide that the Commander would have had a chess set while the regular soldiers would have been lucky to have checkers.

We were then shown family quarters, which weren't a nice as the Commander, but were still a lot nicer than the regular soldiers quarters.

Notice the straw fill beds. I measured one and they are a little over 5 feet long. When I asked the guide about it he said it was not so much the people were shorter, but they thought that sleeping partially upright was healthier. Later they found it wasn't any healthier, so beds got longer so a person could sleep stretched out.

Later, we got to look at the barracks, that house up to 40 soldiers. They were pretty sparse by comparison, even with those of the families. About all that were in them were beds and a single table.
Each man was given a pound of meat and one loaf of bread to eat daily, while the women were given half that, and any children were given 1/2 of what their mothers got. It seems like pretty sparse rations, especially when sometimes the meat was spoiled. They were unable to go hunting because the Indians and British would wait for them to come out of the Fort to capture or kill them.

There were also suttlers which were civilian traders. And the Artillerymen also had better quarters.

We got to see where the munitions were stored under the earthen barriers, so the enemy could not destroy them.

After the Fort we went over to the Visitors Center an watch some reenactments of the siege and battle on video.

We thought it was a worth while presentation about the Revolutionary War.

Thanks for visiting.


  1. Great tour and history. I grew up about 100 miles from there and sad to say until today had not heard about this fort;(

  2. How did we miss that one? Now we have to go back. If you enjoyed that make sure you do Fort Ticonderoga. New York has a lot more to see than the 1,000 Islands and the Adirondacks.