minisink battlement Minisink Battleground Park Entrance.
legend has it that the region's bluestone industry was dicovered by accident in a snake den

The Minisink Battleground

There is no admission fee, park hours are from 8:00 A.M. to dark.

The park is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is dedicated to the brave men who fought and died at the "Battle of Minisink", the Upper Delaware's only major Revolutionary War skirmish.

Blood and Mayhem on the Delaware

The ringing words of "the Unanimous Declaration of the Thirteen United States of America" had a special meaning for the people of the upper Delaware River valley in the late 1770's and early 1780's for this was the frontier during the American Revolutionary War. And it was subject, on numerous occasions, to the depredations of Indians allied to the British - though the raiding parties often contained as many white Loyalists, or Tories, as Indians. The most significant of these raids was the second Minisink raid in July of 1779 led by Joseph Brant, a Dartmouth-educated Mohawk warrior commissioned a colonel in the British Army. The actual attack on the settlements at Minisink (present-day Port Jervis and the Town of Deerpark, New York) was destructive enough, but it was the ensuing Battle of minisink imageMinisink, in which nearly fifty New York and New Jersey militiamen lost their lives, that really sent shockwaves of loss and grief though the frontier population along the Delaware. The Minisink battle has become part of the heritage of the region encompassed by Sullivan and Orange counties, New York, Sussex County, New Jersey, and Pike County, Pennsylvania. The Storm Gathers.

On July 20, 1779 Brant and about ninety Tories and Iroquois Indians swept through the Neversink Valley settlements of Peenpack and Mahackamack destroying farms, a school, a church, and other buildings, leaving a path of misery and bringing great fear to the frontier. On the next day, after an alarm had gone out, two groups of militia led by Lt. Col. Benjamin Tusten of Goshen, New York and Maj. Samuel Meeker of Sussex County in New Jersey met in Mahackamack (Port Jervis). They began to follow Brant up the Delaware River with the intent to ambush him and to recover some of the horses, cattle and personal items his group had taken.

Included in the park's 57 acres are picnic areas, a group picnic pavilion (fee required), restroom facilities and walking trails. An Interpretive Center contains displays which explain the various themes of the park: the battle, the flora and fauna and mankind's use of the park down through the ages.

Ambush at Minisink Fordbattle scene drawing

Later on July 21 Col. John Hathorn's militia unit from Warwick, New York met up with Meeker and Tusten's units somewhere near Sparrowbush, New York and joined forces. The militia numbered about 120 and began the pursuit. On the next morning the patriots discovered that Brant and his raiders were crossing the Delaware River at Lackawaxen and were getting ready to begin their ambush when one of the militia's scouts either accidentally or purposely, (it will never be known) fired his gun alerting Brant of their presence. Soon Brant had outflanked the patriots on the hillside above the river, cutting off one of the three militia units and leaving the remaining two in disarray. Last Stand on The Rocky Hill.

The patriots began a rushed retreat up to the top of the hill overlooking the river in an effort to regain the strategic advantage. Only about forty-five or fifty of the original group were left. They battled most of the afternoon and until late in the day. Brant and his forces finally broke through their small defensive square and the battle ended with remaining militia men and officers killed or scattered. Between forty-five and fifty men had been killed on the American side and perhaps seven of Brant's men were killed.

In Memory of Our Fallen Heroes

Today the Minisink Battleground Park is hallowed ground where so many patriots fell in defense of an ideal - liberty. They were passionate men who perished here, a long distance from their farms, their families and friends. Because of their sacrifice and that of thousands of other patriots during the American War for Independence, our nation was born.

When visiting the park you may choose to walk the trails to see the following sites.

Sentinel Rock

Tradition has long held that this is the location where the final push by Brant into the heart of the militia's defensive square that it had held for most of the day began. It was believed that a sentinel standing guard here was killed. However more recent research indicates that Brant's final assault began from the northeast, not far from Hospital Rock. Sentinel Rock is believed to stand at the approximate southwest corner of the militia's square.

Hospital Rock

Hospital Rock is the most historically significant location on the battleground. Once the enemy broke the American's defensive square late in the afternoon, it was here in the shadow of this rock that Lt. Col. Benjamin Tusten, a physician, and seventeen wounded militiamen under his care were trapped and killed by Brant's raiders. Probably fewer than a dozen of the forty-five men who made a protracted "last stand" on the hilltop escaped.

Minisink Monument

The Minisink Battle Monument was erected on the site of the militia's "last stand" and was dedicated in 1879 on the centennial of the battle. It is built of native bluestone and is capped by a rounded glacial boulder. The Battle of Minisink is commemorated at four sites: here at the battleground, on the village square in Goshen, New York, in the Lackawaxen Cemetery adjoining St. Mark's Church in Lackawaxen, Pennsylvania and Fort Decker in Port Jervis, New York. Ceremonies are held annually at the first three sites on the anniversary of the battle. The Minisink Battleground Park was initially established by the Minisink Valley Historical Society in the 1890's in order to head off destruction of the landscape by bluestone quarrying operations. The hillside is still dotted with these quarries, some of them now barely discernable. In1955 the Sullivan County Park and Recreation Commission took over administration of the site and still maintains it today.

Indian Rock

This oddly placed rock also has an interesting tradition as it has long been suggested that at the conclusion of the battle Joseph Brant buried his dead under or near it, setting the rock in its present position as a memorial. No evidence for this legend has ever been found. Though Indian Rock may have been deposited in this position as the continental glacier that once covered southeastern New York melted, it is more likely that it was gradually pushed upright by the growth of generations of nearby trees such as the one presently standing behind it.

Copyright 1996-2007 The Minisink Valley Historical Society.

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