Old Stone Fort in Schoharie: ‘A Revolutionary Gem’
The American Revolution is writ large across Upstate New York. There are battle sights, historical markers, old forts and military encampments, war museums, cemeteries, and so much more. There is no better place to begin a summer Revolutionary War tour than here in beautiful Schoharie County at the Old Stone Fort.
This place is amazing!
Built as a church but famed as a rural fort, this graceful grey stone church has seen its battles and still wears some of its scars. The building is located in a leafy wooded area, and it is surrounded by a historic old churchyard. Inside is a museum operated by the Schoharie County Historical Society.
Its exhibits date back to the founding of the county and has many displays on some of the famous men and women who came from Schohaire. Not the least is Tim Murphy, one of the most legendary sharpshooters of the American Army during the Revolutionary War. Murphy's hair-raising tales of courage and cunning are well told in this old building. He is buried in the nearby village of Middleburgh cemetery.
Schoharie County was a prize well fought over during the war. Its rich fertile farmlands were the sustenance that the American Army lived on and the British and their allies saw it a a prize possession worth fighting over. In fact, it was so greatly valued that General George Washington once referred to it as the "Breadbasket of the Revolution."
On October 17, 1780, with the villagers and militia barricaded inside it, a large enemy force of 800 loyalists and their native American allies attacked the fort. (With oncoming hostilities, the Reformed Dutch Church had been turned into a stockade fort). The raid was brief but fierce and when the British realized they were not going to succeed here, they called off the attack and continued a march north to the Mohawk Valley.
But not before firing at least two cannon shots at the fort. One round hit the back of the building where it punched a hole in the exterior wall where it met the roof eaves. Doing little damage, the good people of Schoharie decided to leave the cannon ball hole in the building as a reminder of the dark days of the American Revolution.
And that cannon ball and the hole are still there for all to see! The hole is plainly visible on the back side of the fort, with a small sign telling the reason the hole was there in the first place. And inside the museum is the actual 3-pound British cannon ball in an exhibit case.
This is a fascinating, beautiful and important stop for anyone beginning to explore the role of New York State during the American Revolution.
Old Stone Fort
145 Fort Road
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