Wednesday, December 28, 2011
The Battle of Minisink, New York
I have previously written about one of my sixth great grandfathers, James Little. James came to America at the age of thirteen on the ship “The George and Ann” from Ireland. He had quite an adventure when the captain decided to extend the voyage by trickery causing the immigrants and crew to starve because of short rations. See “The Hunger Ship”.
About forty five miles from Goshen was the hamlet of Minisink Ford. "Minisink" once referred to a vast area stretching all the way from Minisink Ford to the Delaware Water Gap. Today the Town of Minisink is located about thirty miles southwest of Minisink Ford. The area is composed of hills and rocky terrain. But with just over two decades of settlement, the Upper Delaware was frontier country in 1779, connected with the outside world only by walking trails and stream courses.
By the summer of 1779, the major fighting in the north was all but completed. Washington’s army had prevailed over the British in the last major engagement at Monmouth, NJ more than a year earlier. The British had retired to New York City and Washington held them in a pseudo-siege from his headquarters at Newburgh, NY.
In the summer of 1779, Brant led a raiding party, estimated at about 80 Indians and American British sympathizers known as Tories in raids down the Delaware Valley. The raids drove frontier settlers to more populated areas like Port Jervis, then known as Peenpack, and Brant followed, raiding and burning homes on July 20, 1779.
There is little detail, but what is known is that a party of more than 100 militia pursued the Mohawk chief up into the wilds of the Upper Delaware. The militia caught up at present day Minisink Ford, where a botched ambush split the militia forces. Ammunition was soon depleted, and the combat was reduced to hand-to-hand, with the Mohawks and Tories getting much the better of it. The militia was routed, and nearly all of those who stayed and fought were killed.
Finally, in 1822, "a committee was appointed to collect the remains and to ascertain the names of the fallen. The committee proceeded to the battle ground, a distance of 46 miles from Goshen, and viewed some of the frightful elevations and descents over which the militia had passed when pursuing the red marauders. The place where the conflict occurred, and the region for several miles around, were carefully examined and the relics of the honored dead gathered with pious care. The remains were taken to Goshen, where they were buried in the presence of 15,000 persons."
A monument was erected to mark the mass grave, upon which was inscribed the names of the 44 men killed in the battle.