Herkimer, Nicholas

Updated About encyclopedia.com content Print Article Share Article
views updated

Herkimer, Nicholas

HERKIMER, NICHOLAS. (1728–1777). New York militia general. Born near the present town of Herkimer, New York, Nicholas Herkimer was a militia lieutenant during the Seven Years' War. When the Revolution began he was active in patriot affairs in politically divided Tryon County, serving as chairman of the Committee of Safety. In 1776 he was promoted from colonel of militia to brigadier general. In July 1777 he led 380 militia to Unadilla, New York, for a conference with Joseph Brant, who had 130 Mohawk warriors with him. Herkimer hoped to work out some arrangement to keep Brant's Mohawks neutral, but the conference did not accomplish this purpose. After learning that a British expedition led by General Barry St. Leger was approaching, and after getting little response from the militia when efforts were made to turn out 200 men for the defense of Fort Schuyler (Stanwix), Herkimer issued a proclamation on 17 July calling on all adult males to appear for service. Eight hundred men responded, and Herkimer led them to the relief of Fort Schuyler. Two days later, on 6 August, he led them into the tragic Oriskany ambush. Herkimer was seriously wounded and his army routed. About ten days later his leg was unskillfully amputated by a French surgeon of Benedict Arnold's command, who could not stop the bleeding. He died 16 August 1777.

SEE ALSO Brant, Joseph; Oriskany, New York; St. Leger's Expedition; Tryon County, New York.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Cowen, Phoebe Strong. The Herkimers and the Schuylers. Albany, N.Y.: Joel Munsell's Sons, 1903.

                              revised by Michael Bellesiles