British General John Burgoyne’s three-pronged attack of 1777 was an attempt to divide the American colonies by cutting New York in half. Essential to this plan was the defeat of the American stronghold of the Mohawk Valley, Fort Stanwix.
Early in the battle the British got word that American forces were marching up the valley to relieve the Fort. To cut short these efforts, St. Ledger and his armies set up an ambush in a ravine at Oriskany in Oneida County, NY, and a tremendous battle ensued.
General Nicholas Herkimer and his allies took tremendous losses during the battle and Herkimer himself eventually died as a result of injuries suffered at Oriskany. Nonetheless the American’s succeeded in driving back the attack from St. Ledger.
It was a hard-won victory, but Herkimer’s troops and their Oneida allies prevented the British from splitting the colonies in two.
An annual ceremony is held in recognition of those who fought in the Battle of Oriskany at the Oriskany Battlefield State Historic Site. It typically includes a re-enactment of the militia march, a musket salute in memory of the fallen, presentation of wreaths and ceremonial offerings, along with guest speakers.
Illustration: The wounded Nicholas Herkimer directs his troops at the Battle of Oriskany, August 6th, 1777 by Frederick Coffay Yohn.