Battle of Oriskany

The Battle of Oriskany (/ɔːrˈɪskən/ or /əˈrɪskən/) was a significant engagement of the Saratoga campaign of the American Revolutionary War, and one of the bloodiest battles in the conflict between the Americans and Great Britain. On August 6, 1777, a party of Loyalists and several hundred Indian allies across several nations ambushed an American military party that was marching to relieve the siege of Fort Stanwix. This was one of the few battles in which the majority of the participants were Americans; Rebels and allied Oneidas fought against Loyalists and allied Iroquois in the absence of British regular soldiers. There was also a detachment of Hessians in the British force, as well as Western Indians including members of the Mississaugas people.

Battle of Oriskany
Part of the American Revolutionary War

Herkimer at the Battle of Oriskany
Painting by Frederick Coffay Yohn, c. 1901,
now in the public library in Utica, New York[1]
DateAugust 6, 1777
Location43°10′38″N 75°22′10″W
Result

Indecisive

  • American relief force blocked
  • British offensive eventually repulsed
Belligerents

 United States
Iroquois

 Great Britain

Iroquois

Algonquin, Huron, and Nipissing
Commanders and leaders
Nicholas Herkimer 
Peter Gansevoort
Sir John Johnson
John Butler
Joseph Brant
Governor Blacksnake
Strength
720–740 militia
60–100 Indians[2]
500 regulars, militia and Indians[3]
Casualties and losses
385 killed
50 wounded
30 captured[4]
Indians: 65 killed or wounded
British: 7 killed, 21 wounded, missing, or captured[5]

The Patriot relief force came up the Mohawk Valley under the command of General Nicholas Herkimer and numbered about 800 men of the Tryon County militia plus a party of approximately 60 Oneida warriors. British commander Barry St. Leger authorized an intercepting force consisting of a Hanau Jäger (light infantry) detachment, Sir John Johnson's King's Royal Regiment of New York, Indian allies from the Six Nations, particularly Mohawks and Senecas and other tribes to the north and west, and Indian Department Rangers, totaling at least 450 men.

The Loyalist and Indians force ambushed Herkimer's force in a small valley about six miles (10 km) east of Fort Stanwix, near the Oneida village of Oriskany, New York. Herkimer was mortally wounded, and the battle cost the Patriots approximately 451 casualties, while the Loyalists and Indians lost approximately 150 dead and wounded. The result of the battle remains ambiguous. The apparent Loyalist victory was significantly affected by a sortie from Fort Stanwix in which the Loyalist camps were sacked, damaging morale among the allied Indians.

The battle also marked the beginning of a war among the Iroquois, as Oneida warriors under Colonel Louis and Han Yerry allied with the American cause. Most of the other Iroquois tribes allied with the British, especially the Mohawks and Senecas. Each tribe was highly decentralized, and there were internal divisions among bands of the Oneida, some of whom also migrated to Canada as allies of the British. The site is known in Iroquois oral histories as "A Place of Great Sadness."[6] The site has been designated a National Historic Landmark; it is marked by a battle monument at the Oriskany Battlefield State Historic Site.


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