The Battle of Minisink Ford took place during the American Revolution on July 22, 1779 between British Loyalists and their Native American supporters, led by Mohawk Chieftain Joseph Brant, versus approximately 120 American militiamen from New York and New Jersey, led by Colonel John Hathorn. In response to Brant’s attack two days prior at the frontier settlement at Peenpack (Point Jervis), American militia sought to intercept Brant’s escape up the Delaware Valley, catching up with him and his forces at Minisink Ford.
With the American militia preparing to ambush Brant as he prepared to cross the Delaware River into Lackawaxen, and with Colonel Hathorn having split his forces into a group of skirmishers and two main units, an accidental rifle discharge from a militiamen unfortunately alerted Brant. Upon his discovery, Brant responded quickly and forcefully, attacking the American militia before they were able to fully deploy, splitting the American forces. One group of the Americans retreated to the top of the hill overlooking the river to regroup and regain their strategic advantage. Unfortunately, only about 50 of the original group of 120 American militiamen were left, the separated forces having dispersed or having been killed or wounded. Brant outflanked the Americans and broke through the new small defensive square of the Americans. The Americans were routed, with 47 militiamen killed. Brant lost approximately seven men. It was a decisive British victory.
The battle monument, made of native bluestone and capped with a rounded glacier boulder, was dedicated in 1879 on the centennial of the battle. The monument measures 11 feet high and 5 feet wide at its base. Over 1,000 people attended the 1879 centennial dedication ceremony that included music, prayers and speeches from local dignitaries and descendants of those who were killed in the battle. Over 12,000 people attended similar cemeteries at Goshen, N.Y., where many of the remains of soldiers killed in the battle are buried. The Minisink monument is located on the site of the militia’s “last stand” of the battle.
Sentinel Rock, or the Last Stand on the Rocky Hill: “After the initial contact at the river, Col. Hathorn’s remaining force, about forty five men, conducted a fighting retreat until they reached high ground. Here they took up a position about two acres in size. Sentinel Rock, where you are now, marked the approximate southwest corner of the militia “square.” The battle field monument marks the southeastern part of the American defensive square.
Capt. Brant’s men encircled them at a distance of 100 yards of less. Tradition has long held that this is the location where Brant made his push into the heart of the militia’s defensive square. More recent research indicates that Brant’s final assault began from the northeast, not far from Hospital Rock. The militia men were now in the fight of their lives, and few would survive.”
Hospital Rock. “Hospital Rock is the most historically significant location on the battleground. Once the enemy broke the American’s defensive square late in the afternoon, it was here in the shadow of this rock that Lieutenant Colonel Benjamin Tusten, a physician, and seventeen wounded militiamen under his care were trapped and killed by Brant’s raiders. Probably fewer than a dozen of the forty-five men who made a protracted “last stand” on the hilltop escaped.” (Source: Minisink Valley Historical Society.)
Unknown Soldier. Located at Saint Mark’s Church in Lackawaxen, Pennsylvania, directly across the Delaware River from Minisink Ford, is the burial site for an Unknown Soldier that died in the Battle of Minisink Ford on July 22, 1779. Because of the battle’s location, being in rough country and far removed from any roads, the bodies of the soldiers killed that fateful day remained there for over 40 years. Later still, in 1847, yet another body of an American soldier was discovered under a rock ledge by a farmer looking for his cow. The remains, identified by remnants of his uniform, were removed to Lackawaxen and buried on the shores of the Delaware River. Today the local chapter of the Veterans of Foreign Wars takes care of the gravesite and conducts an annual memorial service to commemorate the Battle of Minisink Ford.
St. Mark’s Union Cemetery, located adjacent to Saint Mark’s Church, is the burial site for an Unknown Soldier that died in the Battle of Minisink Ford on July 22, 1779. Saint Mark’s, located along the Delaware River in Lackawaxen, was constructed in 1848 on grounds donated by the Delaware and Hudson Canal Company. At its founding it was a Union church, open to Christians of all denominations including Baptists, Methodists, Christadelphians, and Lutherans. In 1873 the church denomination changed officially to Lutheran. St. Mark’s is currently part of the three-church Good News Parish, which also includes sister churches St. Luke’s in Greeley and St. Jacobi in Shohola.
Patriots: A commemorative tablet attached to a large boulder, with the names of those soldiers who died at the battle of Minisink Ford was dedicated by The Delaware Company on July 22, 2007. With the citation, “Honoring these patriots who sacrificed their tomorrows for America’s tomorrows”, those soldiers who died at Minisink Ford include:
Lt. Colonel Benjamin Tusten, M.D.
Captain Bezaleel Tyler
Ensign Ephraim Masten
Adjutant Nathaniel Fitch
Captain John Duncan
Captain Samuel Jones
Captain John Little
Ensign Ephraim Middaugh
Gabriel Wisner, Esquire
Captain Benjamin Vail
Lieutenant John Wood
Gilbert S. Vail
Moses Thomas II