Overview and Summary of the Battle of Oriskany &
the Siege of Fort Stanwix
Washington and the
Continental Army had defeated
the British in New Jersey at the
Princeton and driven them to New
York. British soldiers, under the command of
Lieutenant Colonel Barry St. Leger, were
marching from Quebec eastward across central New
York and the Mohawk Valley to join with British
forces at Albany, New York. The Mohawk Valley
region of New York state was of prime strategic
importance to the British. It was a natural
passageway connecting the Atlantic Ocean via the
Hudson Valley with the interior of North America
and inhabited by the Iroquois Confederacy who
were strong allies of the British.
The Battle of Oriskany and the Siege of Fort
Patriot leaders had realized the need to defend
the Mohawk Valley against British incursions and
began rebuilding Fort Stanwix in 1776. Colonel
Peter Gansevoort took command of Fort Stanwix in
the spring of 1777 with about 700 soldiers. By
the end of July, Lieutenant Colonel Barry St.
Legers army, including American Loyalists and
Indians led by
Chief Joseph Brant, consisting of
about 1,200 men was approaching Wood Creek.
Gansevoort was defending Fort Stanwix with a
force about half that of St. Legerís. The siege
of Fort Stanwix began on August 3, 1777. General
Nicholas Herkimer attempted to take his 800
colonial militiamen to re-enforce the Americans
at Fort Stanwix. His army was ambushed 2 miles
west of Oriskany Creek by a force of about 1,200
British and their Iroquois allies. The battle
that followed resulted in heavy casualties for
both sides following bloody hand-to-hand combat.
General Nicholas Herkimer received a terrible
injury to his leg, from which he later died.
After three weeks Barry St. Leger was still
unable to capture the fort and was forced to
lift the siege of Fort Stanwix on August 22nd
and withdraw to Canada.
Importance and Significance of the Battle of
Oriskany & the Siege of Fort Stanwix
Significance of the Battle of
Oriskany: The significance of the conflict was
that St. Leger's retreat to Canada and his
failure to advance on Albany contributed to
Burgoyne's surrender following the Battles of
Saratoga in October 1777.