LAKE GEORGE, N.Y. (NEWS10) – Four soldiers – whose names aren’t known – are memorialized at a small monument in Battlefield Park. On Memorial Day Monday, the anonymity didn’t stop those people from being remembered – and in fact, made them unique from anyone else on the holiday.
“The unknown soldiers buried here play a part in our remarkable history, but also represent all the missing and unknowns associated with the conflicts – with this history,” said Lake George Councilwoman Marisa Muratori, the main speaker at Monday morning’s event. “They not only gave their lives, but also gave up their identities in the line of duty, in their ongoing quest for freedom.”
The monument, where a small crowd was gathered on Monday morning, marks the lives of four French & Indian War soldiers believed to have died during the Bloody Mourning Scout, on Sept. 8, 1755. During that conflict, French soldiers attacked around 1,000 American provincials – farmers, shopkeepers, and anything else besides trained officers – as well as around 200 Native Americans.
The remains of the four soldiers were found in 1931, during highway construction, and reburied under the monument overlooking Battlefield Park and Lake George. The monument was placed there in 1935. Today, the battle they are believed to have been a part of is a reminder of what can happen when the tide turns in battle. Although the Bloody Morning Scout was an initial victory for French forces, they were eventually routed and forced into a retreat, once commanding French officer Baron de Dieskau was injured.
“After being surprised, the Americans came back and showed grit and courage,” said Lake George Battlefield Park Alliance trustee Dr. Bruce Venter, who spoke on the Battle of Lake George in detail. “The importance of this battle is that, 20 years later – 1775 – American colonists stood up to other Regulars (trained military.) They stood courageously against red coat Regulars, just as their forebearers stood against French Regulars.”
The ceremony featured a color guard provided by Lake George American Legion Post #374, as well as the Lake George Volunteer Fire Department. Also present was a group of reenactors from Fort William Henry Museum, providing a musket salute.
For a reenactor, a day like Monday is a great way to remind the community how close to their own history they are. That’s literal – Muratori said that historians estimate between 5 and 6 thousand soldiers are buried beneath Battlefield Park to this day, from between the French and Indian War and the Revolutionary War. For those who dress after their predecessors, giving a Memorial Day salute is all part of honoring the dead, while giving the future an education that’s becoming more and more abbreviated.
“Kids and adults nowadays don’t get very much as far as past history,” said reenactor Larry Francis. “It keeps getting cropped off, and now you’ve just got a little smidgen of the revolution being taught. But it makes our hearts proud, because we try, in a modern era, to feel something of our ancestors – of all the other wars, and soldiers, sailors, marines and Air Force that came after us.”
It will likely never be known for certain just how many other unnamed soldiers have now been buried for centuries under Battlefield Park – where, on Monday, families walked and rode along the north point of the Warren County Bikeway, and dipped their toes into Lake George. That said, the four soldiers found are far from the only bits of wartime history to be found in Lake George.
From 2000 to 2019, arrowheads, clothing and other items were unearthed at a series of digs led by archaeologist Dr. David Starbuck. Some of those items are now housed at the new Battlefield Park Visitors Center, unveiled last week.
Muratori also talked about a historical study performed by the town and village of Lake George, finished in 2018, which reports the other side of that coin. As the Lake George area became a resort town during the end of the 19th century and into the early years of the 20th, many more pieces of history were unearthed. Most of them were not treated with the care that they deserved. One year later, a new project in the village unearthed another set of bodies – these ones of Revolutionary War soldiers.
“Those graves of our first patriots were not automatically given the reverence they deserved,” she said. “That respect needed to be instilled in the actors involved with the site, and with the community. There was some debate about what to do with the discovery of these gravesites – but the point was made that we were going to be consistently better at respecting our first fallen military than we previously had.”
The ceremony concluded with a wreath-laying at the burial site, with wreath and flowers provided by American Legion Post #374. Other area Memorial Day events included parades in Glens Falls and Bolton Landing.