by Chris Clemens
Upstate NY has seen its share of battles and countless stories have been told of the men and women who have fought for the freedoms that we celebrate but a number of those stories stand out as being particularly interesting. One such story is the Battle of Oriskany in the Revolutionary War which helped set the stage for an Upstate NY-er to not only help win the battle, but go on to be the sole burial in a park named for his bravery.
Silas Towne first overheard of British Brigadier General Barry St. Leger’s plans to attack Fort Stanwix and made his way ahead of the British troops to warn General Nicholas Herkimer of the coming movement. Though the battle is known to be one of the bloodiest of the Revolutionary War fought on North American territory, Towne’s intelligence gathering proved more than useful to the Patriot forces in defending their position.
After becoming a worthy ally to the Patriots, he went on to lead a successful career as a spy up and down the St. Lawrence River. Upon his retirement, he returned home to Mexico and later, requested that when he passed on, that he be buried on Spy Island, the place where his career as a military intelligence gatherer first began.
Near the entrance to Mexico Point Park lies a short, easy wooded walk along a marshy area and doglegs toward the nearby Lake Ontario. Just five minutes on the path and you’ve arrived at the final resting place of Silas Towne, the namesake for “Spy Island”.
Chris Clemens is the Founder/Publisher of Exploring Upstate. From his hometown in Rochester, he spends as much time as possible connecting with the history, culture, and places that make Upstate New York a land of discovery. Follow him on Twitter at @cpclemens