The Oneida Nation participated Aug. 6 at the Oriskany Battlefield's solemn remembrance ceremony held on the battlefield at 7 p.m.
The annual commemoration ceremony honors those who fought and died during this pivotal battle of the Revolutionary War, including members of the Oneida Nation. Wreathes were laid at the tomb by descendents of those who fought at the site. The Nation's Living History Department also participated at the event.
About 60 Oneida warriors fought beside the colonists on that sultry day in 1777, the bloodiest battle of the War for Independence. The Oneidas and the colonial militia, commanded by Gen. Nicholas Herkimer, were able to stop the advance of a British expeditionary force marching from the Great Lakes under Gen. St. Leger, who was attempting to move east and join Gen. Burgoyne and his forces, who were marching south from Canada. If the two forces had united, they could have successfully divided the colonies in half.
Hundreds died during the battle, and Herkimer was fatally wounded. The Oneidas and colonists, however, prevented the British forces from joining, an event that contributed to Burgoyne's loss at the Battle of Saratoga.
Several Oneidas distinguished themselves, among them Han Yerry. This Oneida man fought valiantly, even after withstanding an injury. With the aid of his wife, who loaded his gun, Han Yerry continued to shoot at the enemy. His wife, one of his sons and his half-brother also fought with valor.
The Oriskany Battlefield is located on Route 69 in Oriskany.