Friday, November 7, 2008

The Revolutionary War

"The British are coming! The British are coming!" That was what we heard so we went to Mexico Point to check it out. It was true! We found New York Loyalists reenacting an incident of the Revolutionary War that happen at Mexico Point more that two hundred years ago. We met Leslie who was traveling with her husband. Even their daughter, Hannah, was with them. They were cooking. Hannah said, "I like to help with the cooking. But, it is a lot of work." We were surprised that families traveled with the army. Leslie explained, "It was common. The women cooked, did the laundry, and were nurses."

In 1777 we were at war with Great Britain because America wanted to be independent. The English plan to win the war included capturing New York State. As part of the plan Col. Barry St. Leger and his army which included, Joseph Brant, a Mohawk chief and guide, other Iroquois and Loyalists. Loyalists were Americans who supported the British. They spent the night at Mexico Point.

"Be careful," said Hannah, "there may be Americans spies around." There was a spy! His name was Silas Town and he overheard the plans St. Leger and Joseph Brant. Town hurried to Fort Stanwix in Rome and warned them that, "The British are coming by way of Oswego."

We decided to visit Fort Stanwix in Rome. The new informational center was especially interesting because it explained why some people supported the British while others supported the American. The fort was very quiet. We were surprised to learn that the soldiers were often bored. When their guard duty and other chores were completed there was very little for them to do. They often played checkers. We played checkers with Diana and Sterling. They were from Houston, Texas. Diana told us, "We don’t have any cool forts like this in Texas." The fort is "cool." It has a drawbridge, sally ports, and other "cool" things.

Sterling said, "I want to be the general. They get to sleep in a room all by themselves. Other soldiers shared a room with about 20 other people. They even had to share their bed!"
The people at the fort had been warned so they were prepared so the British were not able to capture it and the big battle took place about five miles away in Oriskany. Today it is a very quiet spot. It was hard to image what it was like on August 6, 1777, when nearly 500 Americans were killed. The Americans led by General Herkimer and were able to force the British back to Oswego. Herkimer was injured during the battle and died a few days later.

Learning about our history is very interesting so we continued to Johnson Hall. Johnson Hall is a beautiful home and was very fancy for the time. Joseph Brant and his sister Molly were friends of the Sir Johnson. Johnson sided with the British so when the American army approached the Johnsons and others loyal to the British fled to Canada. A legend says that Chief Brant used his tomahawk put marks on the mahogany stair railing as a sign to the Indians not to burn the house. That may not be the complete truth but the house was not burned.

Continuing east we went to Saratoga where we met Private Spillane of the 3rd New Hampshire Regiment. He showed the items he carried with him and explained, "The British plan was to have Gen. St. Leger met Gen. Burgoyne and Gen. Howe, each conquering New York State along the way. Gen. Howe never made his way up the Hudson and St. Leger was defeated at Oriskany, so Howe did not have all the helped he planned on. The big battle between the British and the Americans took place here in Saratoga. It is called the ‘Turning Point of the Revolution’ because the big British plan to win the war was unsuccessful and France decided to help us." As everyone knows, America won the Revolutionary War and American became an independent country. We have a very exciting history.

You might say we had a Revolutionary summer. Learning is fun - even during the summer!