Gen. Nicholas Herkimer Monument
Contributed by Lisa Slaski
General Nicholas Herkimer Monument, Herkimer, N.Y.
Source: The Washington Bee, December 7, 1907 (Washington, D.C.)
HERKIMER IN BRONZE
STATUE OF GENERAL RECENTLY
Revolutionary Hero Once More on Battlefield of Oriskany -
Herkimer, N.Y. - The bronze statue of Gen Nicholas Herkimer of revolutionary fame which has recently been erected here represents the general with his leg shattered by a bullet seated on the stump of a tree directing the American forces in the battle of Oriskany. The sculptor is Burr C. Miller. The piece was on exhibition in the salon in Paris this year and was the only one of 400 pieces in bronze to receive honorable mention.
Gen Herkimer was at the head of 800 hastily recruited militiamen and volunteers most of them his friends and neighbors who set out in July 1777 to take relief to Col Gansevoort and his 750 followers in Fort Schuyler. St Legers forces had marched up the St Lawrence on the Canadian side, crossed over at Oswego and passing through the Mohawk valley were investing the fort. St Legers forces consisted of 800 white men and 1000 Indians the latter under the command of the famous Brant, head of the Six Six Nations.
Gen Herkimer sent word to Col Gansevoort of the relief that was coming and asked that a sortie be made from the fort when the relieving forces came up, so that the enemy's attention might be distracted.
When he got near the fort Gen Herkimer Herkimer waited for the signal from from Gansevoort. It didnt come and his young recruits began to chide him for the delay. He refused at first to risk the sacrifice of life which he knew an advance with his 800 men would entail.
He continued to wait but the remarks of some of his officers and soldiers became more insulting. They accused him finally to his face of being a coward and a Tory. The end of it was that against his better judgment he gave the order to advance.
St Leger had heard of his arrival and had sent a detachment to intercept him.
As the militia advanced in hasty march through a wooded ravine near Oriskany the British regulars in ambush at the other end and the Indians on both sides opened fire. The rear guard of the Americans was cut off from the main body and was dispersed.
Early in the conflict Herkimer had his horse shot from from under him and a little later a bullet shattered his left leg just below the knee. When his friends urged him to leave the field he replied:
"No I will face the enemy."
He ordered the saddle removed from his fallen horse and had it placed on a stump near by. Seated on this with the wounded leg which had been hastily bandaged hanging from one side he issued his orders and received the reports of his subordinates.
With his friends and neighbors falling on all sides of him, and suffering agony himself he coolly took his tinder box, steel and flint from his pocket and lit his pipe. The statue shows him with the pipe in one hand while with the other he is directing his forces.
His coolness infused new ardor into the men. They fell to fighting the Indians and British in their own fashion from behind rocks and trees and finally aided by a sally from the fort they forced the attacking party to retreat. About one-third of the militia fell on the battlefield and many more were carried into captivity.
Herkimer was carried on a litter to his house, 35 miles away. The amputation of his leg was badly done and he died ten days later. In his last moments he called for a Bible and read to those about him the psalm beginning:
"0 Lord rebuke me not in thy wrath, neither chasten me in thy hot displeasure."
The base of the statue is a boulder from the battlefield of Oriskany.