By Dan Hust
MINISINK FORD July 24, 2001 Though it was a tremendously lethal battle fought in part due to a premature musket shot, a record crowd of 150 people remembered on Sunday that sacrifice of life and limb made by 44 militiamen two centuries ago.
For 122 years, residents of and visitors to Minisink Ford on the Delaware River have observed a memorial to the only Revolutionary War battle to occur on Sullivan County soil, and Sundays event at the top of a small hill in the countys Minisink Battleground Park carried on that tradition.
We are all in their debt, remarked Sullivan County Legislator Kathleen LaBuda, who represents the region known as District 2. Living up to that high history isnt easy.
On July 22, 1779, about 120 militiamen arrived from Orange County to catch a band of marauding Native Americans in the Delaware River corridor. The leader of the Indians, however, was ready for them thanks to the premature firing of a militiamans gun, and the resulting battle decimated the militia, forcing them to flee into the woods.
Though a defeat for colonists, the battle was never forgotten, and the Sullivan County Historical Society, which organized the event, made doubly sure of that on Sunday.
The actual observances began earlier in the afternoon across the river at the Grave of the Unknown Soldier in Lackawaxen, Pa. Although one speaker pointed out that new DNA identification techniques might finally determine the militiamans name, the event served to recollect the contributions of all the unknown soldiers who served in the wars of the United States.
And just like the warring forces of 200 years ago, attendees made their way across the river to ascend the hill to the battlefield itself albeit more peacefully, and via the famous Roebling Aqueduct.
National Park Service Historian Mary Curtis entertained and educated guests with stories about the lives and battles of Revolutionary War-era people, and shortly thereafter, people walked up another short hill to see the monument and flagpole dedicated to the militiamens memory.
Waiting for them were members of Eldreds Sylvan Liebla American Legion Post #1363, Tusten-Highland VFW Post #6427 and the Navasing Long Rifles, a local group of Revolutionary War re-enactors who had set up authentically re-created camps and displays.
The keynote speaker of the ceremony was Elizabeth McKee, the New York State Vice-Regent of the National Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR).
New Yorkers can be proud of their contributions [to the Revolutionary War], she said. New York suffered the greatest loss in terms of death and human suffering for liberty.
Other speakers included county Veterans Agency Director Eric Nystrom, National Park Service Upper Delaware Scenic and Recreational River Acting Superintendent Sandra Schultz, Beaverkill DAR Chapter member Shirley Bone and Minisink Valley Historical Association Executive Director Peter Osborne.
Said a somber Schultz, There are so many people left out of the dream of freedom. Lets remember those who are not included.
Osborne spoke of his associations preservation of the battlefield during the late 1800s, when there was talk of converting it into a bluestone quarry. It was a thought picked up on by McKee.
We must make every effort to keep history alive, she said. The Sullivan County Historical Society is to be commended for keeping the memory of the Battle of Minisink alive, lest we forget.