ROME — Out of all the world’s sieges, the 21-day siege at Fort Schuyler seems tame.
Yet, the defense by American revolutionary troops at what is now called Fort Stanwix National Monument eventually helped the formation of the United States.
“What makes this so amazing is from a 21-day siege the groundwork for the American victories at Saratoga is laid, and from the victories at Saratoga the groundwork for our alliance with France is laid in 1778,” said William Sawyer, park ranger with Fort Stanwix. “That’s one of the many reasons in the end we are able to win our independence from England.”
On Saturday, the 241st anniversary of the siege was celebrated with the annual Futile Thunder Revolutionary War event at Fort Stanwix. That included tours, demonstrations and a replica cannon firing on the fort’s front lawn.
The actual siege lasted from Aug. 3, 1777, to roughly Aug. 23, 1777. The siege was the main reason for the Battle of Oriskany, where American soldiers trying to relieve the siege were ambushed by opposing troops.
During the siege, the revolutionary soldiers flew a strange-looking flag as a symbol of defiance against the British. A replica flag was flying at the fort Saturday and will remain flying until Aug. 23.
“They hastily made a flag and hoisted it,” said volunteer Theodore Schofield. “The answer to the surrender was that the flag was put up, showing we were not going to surrender.”
Saturday was filled with military drills and stories of daily fort life. There also were opportunities for children to play 18th-century games or hold replica rifles made of wood.
The loudest event was the firing of the replica cannon. Brian Carpenter, a former resident of Boonville, said he heard the cannon shot earlier in the day and wanted to see it up close.
“We were kind of impressed 200 yards away,” said Carpenter, who now lives in Cleveland, “but being 10 feet away definitely changes it a bit.”
Carpenter was back in the area to see family, and he brought his own family with him. Altogether, they were impressed by the festivities.
“I’m 40, I’ve never been to this place,” Carpenter said. “It was great to finally be able to … see this.”
Contact reporter Joseph Labernik at 315-792-4995 or follow him on Twitter (@OD_Labernik).