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In 2019, In Lake George, The Remains Of What Are Believed To Be Dozens Of Continental Soldiers Were Uncovered During A Construction Project – Now, After Years Of Work To Unravel This Revolutionary War Era Mystery,  Schumer Is Fighting To Ensure These Soldiers Get The Full Honor And Respectful Burial They Deserve

As We Approach the 250th Anniversary Of The American Revolution, Senator Urges The U.S. Army Secretary To Endorse Local Plans And Help Finance Reinternment To Finally Lay These Original Patriots To Rest

Schumer To Army: We Must Give These American Heroes, Who Made The Ultimate Sacrifice To Help Form Our Nation, The Honor They Deserve

After the remains of dozens of Revolutionary War American soldiers were found in Upstate New York following construction in 2019, U.S. Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer today launched his efforts to push the U.S. Army to support local plans to honor these fallen heroes and help them finally lay them to rest near where they took their last breathe in Lake George Battlefield Park.

Schumer explained the remains of the Continental Army soldiers were uncovered in 2019 during excavation for a construction project near Courtland Street in Lake George, NY. Archaeologists and dozens of local volunteers have determined these skeletal remains likely come from what once was a burial ground for Revolutionary War solders who had been housed in a hospital nearby, according to war records. These soldiers likely perished around 1776 in the military hospital for the Northern Department that was established by the Continental Army. In order for these original American patriots to be reburied, local advocates and historians are seeking the endorsement and assistance of the U.S. Army, which Schumer is now pushing for to help get these heroes the honor they deserve.

“These soldiers were among America’s first heroes, who made the ultimate sacrifice fighting in the Revolution for the birth of our nation. Local historians and archeologists have been working for years to unravel this mystery, and now it is our duty to give these patriots the honor they deserve and a respectful burial near the location where they drew their final breaths in the fighting around Lake George Battlefield site,” said Senator Schumer. “This is the history of our military, the history of New York State, and the history of the birth of our nation, and is important now more than ever as we approach the 250th anniversary of the American Revolution. That is why I am calling on the Army to fully support local efforts to help finally lay these soldiers to rest and give these patriots the final honor they truly deserve.”

Lake George Town Supervisor Dennis Dickinson said "Since the remains of approximately 44 early American patriots were discovered during a construction project in 2019, a partnership of government, historical organization and private sector officials has worked long hours under the Town of Lake George's leadership to ensure these patriots are honored with a final resting place near where they sacrificed their lives for the cause of liberty. We greatly appreciate Senator Schumer's enthusiastic endorsement to the Secretary of the Army of Lake George Battlefield Park--the site of many critical battles during the wars of the 18th Century--as the most appropriate location for their reinterment as a lasting tribute to the courage of these unknown Americans."

Local leaders have developed a comprehensive plan for reinterment of these fallen soldiers at Lake George Battlefield Park, which would include a memorial as well as signage denoting the significant role this played in the formation of America, and Schumer is also urging the Army to provide financial support to back these efforts.

The recovery of the soldiers’ remains at the Courtland Street site has been a years-long endeavor that involved participation from hundreds of members of the community. Remains were initially discovered during mechanical excavation of a basement for a small apartment building on February 7, 2019. Skeletal human remains were initially identified in soil stockpiled from the excavation, and after further examination from archaeologists from several New York State agencies, it was concluded that the site likely was a cemetery associated with the military and smallpox hospital established in 1776 at Fort George during the Revolutionary War.

Skeletal remains representing a total of 15 individuals were recovered from the partial graves excavated in February 2019. Following a second phase of recovery focusing on graves impacted by the construction and other graves that were completely destroyed, fragmentary skeletal remains representing at least 27 additional individuals were recovered. The New York State Museum is still examining the discovered remains at their laboratory in Albany. Just 2 weeks ago, the tally of distinct individuals' remains identified through their testing process increased to 44, with the potential to increase even more.

In addition to the remains, artifacts recovered during archeological dig of the site were identified as belonging to the First Pennsylvania Battalion of the Continental Army. This included multiple regimental coat buttons associated with soldier’s uniforms, including ones which were able to be discerned with numbers and letters as saying “Continental Army” in small print. This First Pennsylvania Battalion infantry unit was present in the Lake George area in 1776.

Lake George was a significant area for military activity during the formation our nation. Upstate New York and Lake George specifically saw significant military use between 1755 and 1760 as the starting point for English and American campaigns against French Canada and the site of the siege of Fort William Henry. A small garrison was maintained by the British at what was now called Fort George until 1775 when the site was captured by American rebels. Fort George held a small American garrison throughout the war, except for two brief periods when it was captured by British forces. Perhaps the most significant role the area played during the Revolution was as the site of the General Hospital for the Northern Department of the Continental Army in 1775 and 1776, and was of notable use during the smallpox epidemic, the soldiers remains discovered on Courtland Street are believed to be from this hospital.

The official reinternment project, entitled “Repose of the Fallen”, plans to incorporate low impact pedestrian friendly design elements, interpretive signage, and educational information regarding the remains that were recovered. The historical signage throughout the “memorial plaza” is intended to tell the story of the role that these patriots played in the Revolutionary War. The site will be located in the Lake George Battlefield Park, within walking distance of the remains of Fort George, and located between the new Visitors Interpretive Center and the existing memorial of the Four Unknown Soldiers, adding to the rich local history of the area as a significant site in the birth of America. 

A copy of Schumer’s recent letter to Army Secretary Wormuth appears below:

Dear Secretary Wormuth:

During excavation for a construction project in Lake George, New York in 2019, the remains of more than 40 Continental soldiers and others were uncovered. Archaeologists have determined that these persons perished in 1776 in the military hospital for the Northern Department that was established by the Continental Army in the area of what is now Lake George Battlefield Park.

The Town of Lake George organized a committee of state and local public sector agencies, historical associations, and local businesspeople to ensure that a respectful re-interment of the soldiers takes place. As such, the committee recommended that the remains of these fallen unknown soldiers be reinterred in Lake George Battlefield Park, a New York State-owned historic site that serves as the final resting place for four other unknown soldiers killed during the Battle of Lake George in 1755. The potential re-interment location in Battlefield Park recommended by the committee is near where the 1776 military hospital once stood. It is my understanding that representatives of your Office of Army Cemeteries visited the prospective re-interment site in November and reacted very favorably to the re-interment plans.

I am very impressed with the care being demonstrated by this Lake George collaborative in planning to provide these early American heroes a suitable re-interment location, near where they drew their final breaths. I strongly support the committee’s recommendation that they be reinterred at Lake George Battlefield Park, and urge you to consider join me in endorsing this effort as well. I am also hopeful that the Army might contribute funding to offset some of the expenses associated with the re-interment.

Thank you for your consideration of this request and your commitment to paying tribute to fallen service members who died in the line of duty. Please do not hesitate to reach out to my office with any questions.