Skip to comments.Skeletons found at Army Ranger site
Posted on 06/08/2006 10:46:48 AM PDT by Pharmboy
FORT EDWARD, N.Y. - A husband and wife team of amateur archaeologists have unearthed human skeletons, believed to be about 250 years old, at a burial site here on the Hudson River island that's considered the birthplace of today's U.S. Army Rangers.
AP - Mon Jun 5, 1:18 PM ET JoAnne Fuller unearths a skeleton on Rogers Island at Fort
Edward, N.Y., Thursday, June 1, 2006 . The Fullers, a husband and wife team of
amateur archaeologists, have unearthed human skeletons on the Hudson River island
that's considered the birthplace of today's U.S. Army Rangers. (AP Photo/ Jim McKnight)
Richard and JoAnne Fuller said it's very likely the remains found on private property date back to the French and Indian War, when Rogers' Rangers earned a place in American military lore while operating out of Fort Edward. The couple said the skeletons appear to be buried in an unmarked cemetery that doesn't appear on any colonial or contemporary maps. No other cemeteries are known to have existed on the island over the past 200 years.
"Everyone knows there's something on Rogers Island. Nobody knew where the cemetery was," said Richard Fuller as he showed a reporter the gravesites last week.
He said buttons found among the bones could give clues to whether the remains are those of some of the 15,000 soldiers and civilians who lived here in the late 1750s, when Fort Edward was the largest British military outpost in North America. It was also the base of operations for the guerrilla fighters known as Rogers' Rangers.
"Are they red coats? Are they Rangers? Are they colonial militia? Are they Native Americans enlisted in the service of the king? Were they blacks? Were they camp followers?" Richard Fuller said.
The Fullers said the discovery may have solved a mystery that has perplexed professional and amateur archaeologists for decades. Many have tried to locate the final resting place of the hundreds of soldiers knoSwn to have been buried here during the French and Indian War. Some died of battle wounds, but most are believe to have succumbed to illness or diseases such as small pox.
However, there are concerns that the Fullers' activities could jeopardize what one archaeologist called "quite a significant discovery."
"You don't just rush out there and start digging because you think it's interesting," said David Starbuck, who spent more than a decade conducting extensive excavations on Rogers Island and at nearby sites but didn't uncover any cemeteries. "It's important to proceed very cautiously."
While he and his wife aren't professional archaeologists, Richard Fuller said they're "well-versed in archaeology techniques" from their previous work with an Albany-area archaeological firm. The Fullers and some friends are painstakingly excavating the graves, removing dirt layer by layer using garden hoes, paint brushes and dental tools.
There are no plans to give professional archaeologists access to the site, although Richard Fuller said he has talked with an anthropologist about having the skeletons analyzed and studied.
Their work at the site is being questioned by some local officials who have been at odds with the couple over development plans for the island.
"It's certainly a major concern," said Town of Fort Edward Supervisor Merrilyn Pulver, adding that "all digging should cease immediately."
Most of Rogers Island, named for French and Indian War hero Maj. Robert Rogers, is private land owned by Frank Nastasi, a retired Long Island construction executive. He owns 33 acres on the 42-acre island, including the site where the skeletons were found. Nastasi is a fellow French and Indian War buff and Rogers' Rangers aficionado, said Richard Fuller, who works for Nastasi as caretaker of the Rogers Island property.
Nastasi has abandoned plans to build a marina and hotel on the island and is instead considering building a park dedicated to Rogers and the Rangers, or selling the site to New York state, which is eyeing the parcel as a possible park.
It was on the island, in 1757, where Rogers wrote his "Rules of Ranging," a manual on guerrilla warfare that became a blueprint for modern Army Ranger fighting tactics. His original 28 rules have been boiled down over the years into the 19 "Standing Orders" taught to today's Army commandos.
Fuller said he discovered the first skeleton late last fall while looking for other artifacts, and reported the find to local police. Village Police Chief Walter Sandford said the county coroner's office determined the remains were of a historical nature and not from a recent crime.
The burial site was protected by several feet of dirt dredged from the river 90 years ago and deposited on the island. Nastasi had the dirt removed several years ago, Richard Fuller said.
In one of the uncovered graves, a full skeleton lay on its back, its hands folded on its pelvis. The skull, which contained a full set of teeth, was caved in on the left side. Other partial skeletons were lined up in 18-inch-deep plots nearby, with another set off a few feet away. Blue tarps covered the graves to protect the remains from the elements.
JoAnne Fuller has given the remains names such as Caleb and Sammy, taken from the actual colonial militia rosters the Fullers have among the extensive French and Indian War collection that fills their nearby home.
"You always read about the heroes," said JoAnne Fuller, 54, a former tourism director for Washington County. "You never read about the regular soldiers."
Major Robert Rogers - 1757
(Commander of Rogers Rangers)
This is the original version
1. All Rangers are to be subject to the rules and articles of war; to appear at roll-call every evening on their own parade, equipped each with a firelock, sixty rounds of powder and ball, and a hatchet, at which time an officer from each company is to inspect the same, to see they are in order, so as to be ready on any emergency to march at a minute's warning; and before they are dismissed the necessary guards are to drafted, and scouts for the next day appointed.
2. Whenever you are ordered out to the enemy's forts or frontiers for discoveries, if your number be small, march in a single file, keeping at such a distance from each other as to prevent one shot from killing two men, sending one man, or more, forward, and the like on each side, at the distance of twenty yards from the main body, if the ground you march over will admit of it, to give the signal to the officer of the approach of an enemy, and of their number, & c.
3. If you march over marshes or soft ground, change your position, and march abreast of each other, to prevent the enemy from tracking you (as they would do if you marched in a single file) till you get over such ground, and then resume your former order, and march till it is quite dark before you encamp, which do, if possible, on a piece of ground that may afford your sentries the advantage of seeing or hearing the enemy at some considerable distance, keeping one half of your whole party awake alternately through the night.
4. Some time before you come to the place you would reconnoitre, make a stand, and send one or two men in whom you can confide, to look out the best ground for making your observations.
5. If you have the good fortune to take any prisoners, keep them separate till they are examined, and in your return take a different route from that in which you went out, that you may the better discover any party in your rear, and have an opportunity, if their strength be superior to your, to alter your course, or disperse, as circumstances may require.
6. If your march in a large body of three or four hundred, with a design to attack the enemy, divide your party into three columns, each headed by a proper officer, and let these columns march in single files, the columns to the right and left keeping at twenty yards distance or more from that of the center, if the ground will admit, and let proper guards be kept in the front and rear, and suitable flanking parties as a due distance as before directed, with orders to halt on all eminences, to take a view of the surrounding ground, to prevent your being ambushed, and to notify the approach or retreat of the enemy, that proper dispositions may be made for attacking, defending, & c, and if the enemy approach in your front on level ground, form a front of your three columns or main body with the advanced, guard, keeping out your flanking parties, as if you were marching under the command of trusty officers, to prevent the enemy from pressing hard on either of your wings, or surrounding you, which is the usual method of the savages, if their number will admit of it, and be careful likewise to support and strengthen your rear guard.
7. If you are obliged to receive the enemy's fire, fall or squat down, till it is over, then rise and discharge at them. If their main body is equal to yours, extend yourselves occasionally; but if superior, be careful to support and strengthen your flanking parties, to make them equal with theirs, that if possible you may repulse them to their main body, in which case push upon them with the greatest resolution, with equal force in each flank and in the center, observing to keep at a due distance from each other, and advance from tree to tree, with one half of the party before the other ten or twelve yards. If the enemy push upon you, let your front fire and fall down, and then let your rear advance thro' them and do the like, by which time those who before were in front will be ready to discharge again, and repeat the same alternately, as occasion shall require; by this means you will keep up such a constant fire, that the enemy will not be able easily to break your order, or gain your ground.
8. If you oblige the enemy to retreat, be careful, in your pursuit of them, to keep out your flanking parties, and prevent them from gaining eminences, or rising grounds, in which case they would perhaps be able to rally and repulse in their turn.
9. If you are obliged to retreat, let the front of your whole party fire and fall back, till the rear has done the same, making for the best ground you can; by this means you will oblige the enemy to pursue you, if they do it at all, in the face of a constant fire.
10. If the enemy is so superior that you are in danger of being surrounded by them, let the whole body disperse, and every one take a different road to the place of rendezvous appointed for that evening, which must every morning be altered and fixed for evening ensuing, in order to bring the whole party, or as many of them as possible, together, after any separation that may happen in the day; but if you should happen to be actually surrounded, form yourselves into a square, or if in the woods, a circle is best, and, if possible, make a stand till the darkness of the night favours your escape.
11. If your rear is attacked, the main body and flankers must face about to the right or left, as occasion shall require, and form themselves to oppose the enemy, as before directed; and the same method must be observed, if attacked in either of your flanks, by which means you will always make a rear of one of your flank-guards.
12. If you determine to rally after a retreat, in order to make a fresh stand against the enemy, by all means endeavour to do it on the most rising ground you can come at, which will give you greatly the advantage in point of situation, and enable you to repulse superior numbers.
13. If general, when pushed upon by the enemy, reserve your fire till they approach very near, which will them put them into the greater surprise and consternation, and give you an opportunity of rushing upon them with your hatchets and cutlasses to the better advantage.
14. When you encamp at night, fix your sentries in such a manner as not to be relieved from the main body till morning, profound secrecy and silence being often of the last importance in these cases. Each sentry, therefore, should consist of six men, two of whom must be constantly alert, and when relieved by their fellows, it should be done without noise; and in case those on duty see or hear anything, which alarms them, they are not to speak, but one of them is silently to retreat, and acquaint the commanding officer thereof, that proper dispositions may be made; and all occasional sentries should be fixed in like manner.
15. At the first dawn of day, awake your whole detachment; that being the time when the savages choose to fall upon their enemies, you should by all means be in readiness to receive them.
16. If the enemy should be discovered by your detachments in the morning, and their numbers are superior to yours, and a victory doubtful, you should not attack them till the evening, as then they will not know your numbers, and if you are repulsed, your retreat will be followed by the darkness of the night.
17. Before you leave your encampment, send out small parties to scout round it, to see if there be any appearance or track of an enemy that might have been near you during the night.
18. When you stop for refreshment, choose some spring or rivulet if you can, and dispose your party so as not to be surprised, posting proper guards and sentries at a due distance, and let a small party waylay the path you came in, lest the enemy should be pursuing.
19. If, in your return, you have to cross rivers, avoid the usual fords as much as possible, lest the enemy should have discovered, and be there expecting you.
20. If you have to pass by lakes, keep at some distance from the edge of the water, lest, in case of an ambuscade, or an attack from the enemy, when in that situation, your retreat should be cut off.
21. If the enemy pursue your rear, take a circle till you come to your own tracks, and there form am ambush to receive them, and give them the first fire.
22. When you return from a scout, and come near our forts, avoid the usual roads, and avenues thereto, lest the enemy should have headed you, and lay in ambush to receive you, when almost exhausted with fatigues.
23. When you pursue any party that has been near our forts or encampments, follow not directly in their tracks, lest you should be discovered by their rear guards, who, at such a time, would be most alert; but endeavour, by a different route, to head and meet them in some narrow pass, or lay in ambush to receive them when and where they least expect it.
24. If you are to embark in canoes, bateaux, or otherwise, by water, choose the evening for the time of your embarkation, as you will then have the whole night before you, to pass undiscovered by any parties of the enemy, on hills, or other places, which command a prospect of the lake or river you are upon.
25. In paddling or rowing, give orders that the boat or canoe next the sternmost, wait for her, and the third for the second, and the fourth for the third, and so on, to prevent separation, and that you may be ready to assist each other on any emergency.
26. Appoint one man in each boat to look out for fires, on the adjacent shores, from the numbers and size of which you may form some judgement of the numbers that kindled them, and whether you are able to attack them or not.
27. If you find the enemy encamped near the banks of a river, or lake, which you imagine they will attempt to cross for their security upon being attacked, leave a detachment of your party on the opposite shore to receive them, while, with the remainder, you surprise them, having them between you and the lake or river.
28. If you cannot satisfy yourself as to the enemy's number and strength, from their fire, & c. conceal your boats at some distance, and ascertain their number by a reconnoitring party, when they embark, or march, in the morning, marking the course they steer, & c. when you may pursue, ambush, and attack them, or let them pass, as prudence shall direct you. In general, however, that you may not be discovered by the enemy on the lakes and rivers at a great distance, it is safest to lay by, with your boats and party concealed all day, without noise or show, and to pursue your intended route by night; and whether you go by land or water, give out parole and countersigns, in order to know one another in the dark, and likewise appoint a station for every man to repair to, in case of any accident that may separate you.
Such in general are the rules to be observed in the Ranging service; there are, however, a thousand occurrences and circumstances which may happen that will make it necessary in some measure to depart from them and to put other arts and stratagems in practice; in which case every man's reason and judgment must be his guide, according to the particular situation and nature of things; and that he may do this to advantage, he should keep in mind a maxim never to be departed from by a commander, viz. to preserve a firmness and presence of mind on every occasion.
From JOURNALS OF MAJOR ROGER ROGERS (as published in 1765)
I live about 25 north of Maysville (as the crow flies) in Adams County, Ohio. I'll have to check out the next Kenton Festival.
The books are fascinating in themselves, but also since so much of what Eckert wrote about involves this area and a radius of about a hundred miles.
As we speak he and the goverment money smellers, are no doubt setting up a legal court order to cease and desist, and another to declare the property as a national historic site belonging to the state.
He was in great company. Another wagonmaster on Braddock's campaign was Daniel Morgan, a RevWar hero.
Thanks for that info--I did not know that.
Thanks for posting those--I was unfamiliar with them.
I read a book twenty or more years ago about the Ohio frontier in the early 1800s or late 1700s that was written in the form a diary. I really enjoyed the book, but for the life of me I can't remember the name. Does anybody recall such a book?
I still vividly recall the description of Indians tying a captive to a pole, slitting his belly open, tying his entrails to the pole and forcing him to walk around the pole. Of course, this was practiced long before panties-on-the-head became a serious offense against humanity.
Northwest Passage, by Kenneth Roberts
I don't think so, but Roberts is probably my favorite historical fiction author. I just reread Arundel about Arnold's expedition to Quebec.
I just found a review of "The Tree of Life" by Hugh Nissenson and it sounds like this may be it.
"He was in great company. Another wagonmaster on Braddock's campaign was Daniel Morgan, a RevWar hero."
Now that I didn't know. I just found out about my ancestor being in this war when doing some genealogy research. A young George Washington was also with Braddock.
Not only was Washington with Braddock, he took command after Bradock was fatally wounded. Many on both sides of the revolution were with Braddock. I also believe one of Boone's ancestors, if not Boone himself was with Braddock.
Quote: "The best book on the history of this period is Alan Ekert's "Wilderness Empire."
Francis Parkman is an excellent historian and was a prolific writer about this era. His book "Montcalm and Wolfe" is the best accounting I have read.
Murtha calls for immediate congressional investigation...
Those victims were killed alive.
Is he demanding the pull-out of all personnel yet?
Worked then, works now.
Honing in some Interim proves Rogers Rules will still apply in the future.
A Grunt's compact version of Sun Tzu.
Agreed. Archeologists complain about what grave robbers have done ... then dig the site up & ship the contents hither & yon.
thats why I would never report finding something like that