Saturday, August 8, 2020

Evert Van Eps and the Battle of Oriskany

 Dear Grandfather Evert,

Yesterday, August 6th, was the 243rd anniversary of the Battle of Oriskany. Though I am certain you well remember the day, I think many of your descendants may not know about the Battle or that you were part of it. So here is what we know today... wish you could correct any wrong impressions we have.

Early on the morning of August 6th, 1777, a troop of more than 800 men from the Tryon County (NY) Militia and their allies among the Oneida, were marching along the path through woods leading west from the Oneida Village of Oriskany. The terrain they were navigating was difficult, a rocky wooded ravine. They were ambushed as they were marching to the aide of Fort Stanwix which was under seige by British forces led by Lt. Colonel Barry St. Leger and their Iriquois allies.

The painting above, shows General Herkimer rallying the Tryon County Militia at the Battle of Oriskany. It is on display at the public library of Utica, New York and was executed by Frederick Coffay Yohn.

The American troops were led by Nicholas Herkimer. Herkimer was the son of Palatine German immigrants who had settled in the Mohawk Valley. A veteran of the French and Indian War, he became the head of the Tryon County Committee of Safety and then colonel of the local militia. After a split with the loyalists on the committee, Herkimer was commissioned by the Provincial Congress as a Brigadier General on September 5, 1776. 

Upon learning of the siege of Fort Stanwix, General Herkimer ordered the Tryon County Militia to assemble at Fort Dayton. We assume, that you were with those troops and began the 28 mile march to the west. There must have been a great deal of confusion at the start of the ambush. We know that both you and General Herkimer were wounded in your left legs. You lived to relate the story of your wound to your family and it is included in the Widow's Pension application for your wife.

General Herkimer was not so lucky. Though his leg was dressed on the Battle Field, infection set in on the retreat. His leg was amputated by an inexperienced surgeon and Herkimer died ten days later.

I hope you know that the site of the battle has been long rememberd. The Oriskany Monument was dedicated on August 6, 1884. Though the action was considered a tactical loss, the Battle is considered to have contributed to the colonists' major victory at Saratoga and a coalition of civic and political leaders, descendants of Revolutionary soldiers, historians and artisans were instrumental in constructing the monument. 

Monument dedication August 6, 1884 from

Your name is on the plaque listing the soldiers who fought at Oriskany. We thank you for your service there and your other efforts to secure our nation. More than 40 of your descendants have proven their relationship to you for membership in the National Society Daughters of the American Revolution.


your 4th great granddaughter

Cecily Cone Kelly

Our descent from Evert Van Eps is as follows

Evert Van Eps married Mary "Polly" Minthorn; their daughter Jane Van Eps married Richard Hugunin; their son Van Eps Hugunin married Sarah Amanda Gibson; their daughter Mary Elizabeth Hugunin married William Wallace Colby; their daughter Ada Grace Colby married Cecil Oscar Werst; their daughter is my mother Betty Lorraine Werst.