This report has detailed the results of a documentary and field mapping research project to define the boundaries and defining features of the Chemung Battlefield. Included in this research was a review of historical documents related to the Battle of Chemung and the Sullivan-Clinton campaign to obtain descriptions of the battlefield's landscape and the major features related to the battle. Field mapping and GIS were applied to the historic documentary research along with a KOCOA military terrain analysis. This analysis allowed for some of the foundational research into the Battle of Chemung. It provided a perspective of the battle that hinged on the insights of those who fought on both sides in the battle.
One of our goals for this research was to move beyond a review of the accounts of Continental troops and include the accounts of British troops and their Native American allies. To achieve this, project researchers actively sought out accounts and documents from British officers (Lt. Col. John Butler), troops, and their Native American Allies (Capt. Joseph Brant). The project also involved the insights from a Native American consultant, Richard Hill, who presented a perspective of the various Native American groups who were involved in the Battle and overall campaign. Jim Folts provided an extensive history of the Native American communities occupying the New York frontier previous to the American Revolution establishing a cultural setting to the war's conflict. Robert Venables provided a detailed history to the cultural groups and events surrounding the battle. These consultants provided general histories of their groups' during the Sullivan-Clinton campaign and details on how the campaign affected their people's political and social identities. As this battle has received little historical attention it was important to research it from the various and sometimes contradictory accounts of the battle.
In 2001, the National Park Service and the American Battlefield Protection Program initiated a reassessment of Revolutionary War and War of 1812 battlefields, including the Chemung Battlefield. The reassessment was guided by the goal of preservation. For these battlefields, three boundaries were established: core, study area, and area of Potential National Register Eligibility (PotNR). The core is the areas of the battlefield related to the most intensive and direct fighting; the study area includes the overall battlefield including the core area and the secondary features, such as staging areas and avenues of movement including approach and retreat; the PotNR boundaries include those portions of the battlefield that meet the National Register's integrity criteria. The Battle of Chemung was not detailed in this study and was associated with the Battle of Newtown given their close proximity in space and time.
This project has worked to evaluate the Battle of Chemung in the manner established by the National Park Service and the American Battlefield Protection Program. The study area and core areas for the Chemung Battlefield can be seen in Figure 55 and the PotNR boundaries in Figure 56. These boundaries were established by a general review of the historical literature related to the Battle of Chemung.
Our mapping has provided an initial definition of the battlefield's boundaries and feature locations. These boundaries include two core areas with an encompassing study area (Figure 55, 192). The study area includes the Continental Army's avenue of approach from Fort Sullivan past the Village of Old Chemung, the Chemung Ambuscade, and the Crown forces' avenue of retreat towards Newtown. The Chemung River is also a constant feature along the battle's route. The core areas are located at the Chemung Ambuscade/ Ambush Point and the Crown force's firing line towards the southern corn fields. The battle was one of movement which included a long march by the Continental forces and sporadic fighting throughout the morning of August 13, 1779 and across the Chemung Valley.
Due to changes to the landscape and disturbance to the battlefield, the area of Potential National Register eligibility does not completely match the study area or the core areas (Figure 56). For the most part, the landscape surrounding and including the Chemung Battlefield has remained relatively undisturbed. Residents have primarily used the land for agricultural fields with some housing and commercial properties built in the area. The agricultural fields have changed the nature of the landscape in clearing woods and draining some wetlands. However, the fields generally have had little impact on the landscape. The eastern section of the battlefield near the modern villages of Waverly and Sayre has witnessed the most change to the landscape. Residential, commercial, and industrial development during the 19th and 20th centuries reshaped the land and disturbed the material evidence and sense of place related to the Battle of Chemung. Those portions of the battlefield with little evidence of disturbance will have to be tested to confirm their integrity and aid in the development of a preservation plan for the battlefield.
We recommend archeological testing in the areas of defining features that were vital to the outcome of the battle. These include the Chemung Ambuscade/Ambush Point and the area of the Village of New Chemung. Testing in these areas should provide information to fulfill the two major research goals of this project: 1) to refine the boundaries of these defining features and determine the integrity of the feature; and 2) to aid in the interpretation of the flow of the battle by using material deposits related to the battle to ascertain tactics, and troop movements.
All of this information will aid in the determination of an overall preservation plan for the Chemung Battlefield. The landscape has multiple uses from urban development to agricultural fields and each have had different effects on the battlefield's landscape. The areas used as agricultural fields remain relatively more intact than those in areas of urban and residential development. Industrial and commercial development is encroaching on those agricultural portions of the battlefield and threatens to change the rural landscape into either a roadside commercial district or an industrial landscape of gas wells. This report allows an initial step in planning to preserve the battlefield by identifying and mapping the defining features of the battle. The next step will be to evaluate integrity of these features more exactly to determine what remains and what has been disturbed. Taken as a whole, the gathered information will provide the groundwork for placing the Chemung Battlefield on a path to preservation.
Figure 55. This page/map was intentionally deleted per the requirements of the Archaeological Resource Protection Act (16 U.S.C. 470hh) and its implementing regulations (49 FR 1027, Jan. 6, 1984).
Figure 56. This page/map was intentionally deleted per the requirements of the Archaeological Resource Protection Act (16 U.S.C. 470hh) and its implementing regulations (49 FR 1027, Jan. 6, 1984).