Chemung Battlefield Project

The Revolutionary War Battle of Chemung has existed in the shadow of the better-known Battle of Newtown for over two centuries. However, Chemung was the first of the two engagements, and the context for this battle defined the motivations for the combatants, and provided intelligence for the subsequent Battle of Newtown. Because local landowners recognized the importance of the Battle of Chemung, they became advocates for research and a National Register nomination for this significant battlefield. They convinced researchers from the Public Archaeology Facility (PAF) at Binghamton University to apply for American Battlefield Protection funding to elevate the Chemung Battlefield to its rightful place of importance within the Revolutionary War in the Southern Tier of New York. This collaborative report follows the completion of PAF's Battle of Newtown project (PAF 2010). As with Newtown, the goal of the Chemung project was to bring together a group of scholars (archeologists, historians, and Native Americans) dedicated to a more robust understanding of the Battle, the participants, the motives, and the outcomes. The project focused on assessing the integrity of defining battlefield features, and the potential for further research and preservation. The completed documentary and field research comprise the first step towards the path to preservation for this significant battlefield.

Research was divided among two teams and two individuals: Binghamton University (Michael Jacobson, Brian Grills, Richard Kastl, and Nina Versaggi); Cornell University (Robert Venables, Sherene Baugher, and Brant Venables); James Folts (New York State Archivist); and Richard Hill, Sr. (Tuscarora Nation). All contributing scholars fell under the umbrella of the Public Archaeology Facility, a research center within Binghamton University. Several individual contributions were melded into this one report. It was not possible to assign individual authorship to some chapters since the work of one or more teams comprised the final text. In addition, lengthy research documents were edited and reduced in size to stay within the defined goals of the project. The complete texts submitted are on file and available at the Public Archaeology Facility. I would like to take this opportunity to recognize the individual contributions to this project and report.

Dr. James Folts provided a detailed discussion of the Munsee Delaware, particularly their presence in villages involved in the Chemung Battle, and their historical and political motivations for participation in the Battle. Discussion of the Delaware has largely been overshadowed by the prominence of Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) combatants during the Revolutionary War; Dr. Folts' insights filled this gap in historical recognition. Dr. Venables, assisted by Brant Venables, collaborated on the inventory of documentary sources pertaining to Chemung, and contributed significant amounts of text to chapters on the Documentary Results. Dr. Venables' expertise on the Revolutionary War and Native American history were invaluable to this project. Dr. Baugher, together with Brant Venables, formulated portions of the research questions presented in the research design. As part of the Newtown project, Brant Venables conducted extensive research on the types of arms and munitions expected to be visible on archeological sites, and these were included in the Chemung report as well.

Joining me on the Binghamton team were Brian Grills, Michael Jacobson, PhD and Richard Kastl, all of whom are professional archeologists on the staff of the Public Archaeology Facility. Grills focused on archival inventories and documentary research, especially in relation to the military maneuvers of British side of the Battle. Dr. Jacobson addressed the issue of defining features, assessment of integrity, and military archeology important to the research design. His expertise in GIS mapping is evident throughout the report. In addition, he assumed the role of report coordinator and has taken the lead on preparing the National Register nomination for Chemung. Richard Kastl participated in the first NPS Revolutionary War/War of 1812 mapping project, and brought his experience in field mapping to this project. Maria Pezzuti, Administrative Director of PAF, and the Research Foundation of Binghamton University provided the administrative support for this project. I served as Point of Contact (POC) for this project and general editor for this report. In addition, I have coordinated consultations with Native Americans and SHPO under Section 106 of the NHPA.

I am grateful to all the participants and support staff for their dedication to conducting high quality research for the project, and producing a manuscript that will be useful for other scholars of the Revolutionary War in New York. As a team, we thank the local landowners, particularly Dr. Earl Robinson, the Jason Knapp family, Margaret Clark, and Michael Cole for alerting us to the importance of this neglected battle, and for their enthusiastic support of our project. Finally, we are particularly grateful to the National Park Service's American Battlefield Protection Program for the funding that allowed this endeavor to take place.