Fishkill, NY ~ September 17/18, 2011
On a crisp autumn weekend in September 2011, the Hudson Valley revisited a time in history long forgotten to many. The Van Wyck Homestead in Fishkill, NY was transformed into a Revolutionary War encampment honoring the brave men and women who made the ultimate sacrifice and brought forth the foundation of a new country, The United States of America.
The Friends of the Fishkill Supply Depot and the Fishkill Historical Society hosted the 2nd Annual Revolutionary War Weekend to enlighten and educate visitors about the urgent need to study, appreciate and preserve what remains of the National Register Fishkill Supply Depot and Encampment.
Funded by the Continental Congress, the Depot complex covered over 70 acres and was a major logistical center and military city providing essential provisions and supplies to the Continental Army. Today, only small portions of the Depot remain untouched, including a privately owned piece of land where in 2007 an archeological study concluded that hundreds of America's first veterans lie in unmarked graves.
The event schedule included walking tours to the burial site where Bill Sandy, RPA explained how the graves were found and answered questions from the visitors about the potential risk of commercial development. One young woman passionately asked, "Why don't you protest!" Mr. Sandy responded, "Educating and informing the people is our way of protest."
A very touching moment occurred when members of the 5th NY Regiment, Troop 65 BSA and Dave Loda w/Huckleberry (foreground) observed a moment of silence in honor of the soldiers buried at the site just south of the Hess gasoline station on Route 9.
The list of weekend activities also featured: 18th Century cooking, spinning & weaving, blacksmithing, military drills and musket firing demonstrations in addition to three performances by the renown Hudson River Ramblers.
Visitors from as far away as Florida and Ohio found the free Revolutionary War Weekend to be both educational and entertaining. "Being informed of the methods of cooking and tasting pumpkin fritters cooked on logs made me grateful for today's many conveniences," said Gloria, from Ohio. She added "Listening to Bill tell the stories of the soldiers was heart tugging. The Van Wyck home is still standing after all these years. Oh, if only those walls could talk."
Saturday night, on the doorsteps of the historic Van Wyck Homestead, visitors and volunteers gathered to read the names of the soldiers confirmed to be buried in Fishkill. Not a dry eye could be found as the names were read, one by one, and a metal triangle was chimed for each patriot. Afterwards, a young boy asked if he could keep the card with the soldiers name he had read. "Of course!" said FOFSD President Lance Ashworth, "We would be honored." As a result, everyone kept their cards.
Needless to say, they'll have to print more for next year's event.