Letter: Benedict Arnold Arrives Too Little Too Late at Oriskany


I very much enjoyed reading the first two installments of Mr. Soodalter’s series on Benedict Arnold. However, I believe his recounting of Arnold’s involvement in the Battle of Oriskany, and the outcome of the battle itself, may be in error.

From what I’ve read (and recall from my high school days), the colonial forces at Oriskany were assembled and led by Gen. Herkimer in an attempt to prevent a feared British siege of Fort Stanwix (later renamed Fort Schuyler). Herkimer’s column was ambushed and virtually annihilated by Mohawk and Seneca Indian allies of British Gen. St. Leger.

Herkimer himself was mortally wounded during the battle and died several days later. Arnold, who was not present at the battle, arrived with a relief column two weeks later and engaged in no significant combat with the British at that time. Despite Herkimer’s defeat, Fort Stanwix/Schuyler remained in colonial control.

I may not have the sequence 100 percent correct, but I’m quite sure that Oriskany was a tactical disaster for the colonials, and that Arnold did not arrive on the scene until it was over.

I hope Mr. Soodalter will forgive my historical nitpicking, and appreciate what I hope will be his continued interest in our country’s history.

Bill Zutt

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