On September 11-12, members of local historical societies representing the towns of Conesus, Groveland and Leicester, N.Y. hosted a weekend of activities commemorating the 225th anniversary of the ambush by the Senecas on Lt. Thomas Boyd’s scouting party during the Sullivan-Clinton Campaign of 1779.
Several members of Capt. Selin’s Independent Company were able to participate in this event. The military units camped at the site of the ambush just west of Conesus Lake.
A civilian camp was set up at the site of the Seneca Indian village of Little Beard’s Town in Leicester. This site is about 5 miles west of the Groveland Ambush site, and is where Lt. Boyd and Sgt. Michael Parker were marched, after their capture.
Saturday and Sunday offered a re-enactment of the ambush. The lay of the land offered a perfect setting for the public to watch the ambush unfold as they could view the battle from the side of a small hill.
As happened 225 years ago, our unit with other Continentals pursued a fleeing Seneca through the same ravine and woods Boyd and his men followed, not knowing that a large party of Senecas were waiting for the main body of Sullivan’s army to move up from Conesus Lake. Upon falling into this trap, we were soon to learn that we were up against overwhelming numbers. We put up a brisk amount of fire, but their numbers were too many and we were surrounded and cut off. There was litttle doubt how this would turn out.
We were told that the public thoroughly enjoyed the sights and sounds of this battle.
Throughout the weekend, our camps were open to the public for demonstrations, questions and historical interpretation of the the Sullivan Campaign along with specifics of Lt. Boyd’s role and fate. At Little Beard’s Town, the civilian camp offered several demonstrations of 18th Century crafts and cooking. Jane Oakes, who has over a decade of experience of open hearth cooking at Genesee Country Village, prepared numerous dishes from original 18th Century recipes. Needless to say, they were all excellent.
It is always an honor and privilege to camp for a weekend on the acutual ground that a battle took place. This site was all the more special as it is still rural, farm country with few 21st Century intrusions. It made it much easier to get a feel of what Lt. Boyd and his men experienced.
Although the event was small in numbers of re-enactors, the turnout of the public along with their favorable feedback, exceeded the expecations of the event’s organizing staff. As this was so well received, we were told that there may be similar events held in the future.
We would like to thank Jane and C.T. Oakes for inviting us to attend and for their time and effort in making this event happen. It was an honor to be involved.
Steve Collward, Brian Plyter, Chuck Plant, Dave Fancher