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Sunday, September 6, 2015

Stone Arabia and the Emptiness of Death

     On October 19, 1780, one of the more brutal battles in the war in the Mohawk Valley in New York State occurred here, at Stone Arabia.


     The Mohawk Valley is a beautiful, haunting place.  I've been through there a few times in photographing Revolutionary War sites for my book.  On this day I had been to Johnstown and the remarkable spot of Fort Plain.  From that hill, exhibits point you to the many battles, like this one, that were part of the combined British/Loyalist/Indian raids on towns in the region.  The British success here at Stone Arabia preceded the defeat of the British at Klock's field later in the day.  Meanwhile Colonel John Brown, veteran of Ticonderoga and the Quebec campaign, was killed here as he and his force faced overwhelming numbers.  He was 36 years old.  The British burned the town of Stone Arabia.  A year later the Americans were victorious at the Battle of Johnstown, coinciding with the British surrender at Yorktown, and the war essentially ended, although it sputtered on for two more years.

     There is no easy place to park apart from the dirt "shoulder" on the road, being careful not to slide into the ditch.  It is also hard to image the brutal nature of the fight in looking at this placid landscape.  Brown was another of those virtually unknown officers of the Revolution who fought up and down the East Coast, and dying in these fields in skirmishes, raids and battles that ultimately proved so meaningless to the end result.  The raids in the Mohawk Valley essentially ended with Johnstown, but the major action in the war had long since shifted to the South.  One cannot help but think of those who are dying in Iraq or Afghanistan as part of hit and run raids that to not ultimately affect the result in a war, but nonetheless remain part of its brutality.

     
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