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This Day in History: The little-known Battle of the Flockey

On this day in 1777, the little-known Battle of the Flockey takes place in New York’s Schoharie Valley. The battle ended with Loyalists in retreat.

Maybe a little-known fact? A Patriot cavalry charge during this battle has been identified by some as the first cavalry charge of the American Revolution and the U.S. Army.

A Continental cavalryman.

Americans were then fighting off a British attempt to divide the colonies: British General John Burgoyne was moving from Canada to Albany, where he planned to rendezvous with Lt. Col. Barry St. Leger and General William Howe. St. Leger’s path took him through New York’s Mohawk Valley, near the Schoharie Valley. Three Loyalists in the area were also ready to join the British effort.

Thus, John McDonell, Adam Crysler, and George Mann, began gathering other Loyalists in preparation for an uprising.

In the meantime, the primary Patriot resistance was at Fort Defyance, which then housed only a handful of men. As the Loyalist uprising gained steam, Patriot Colonel John Harper rode to Albany to get reinforcements. Help was scarce. Too many people were already working to defend New York against Burgoyne. However, Harper did get help from one troop of Continental cavalry.

Only 28 more men.

Early on August 13, Harper and the cavalry approached Mann’s Tavern, where George Mann was rounding up his Loyalists. Upon seeing Harper’s men, Mann fled! Can you believe he caved so fast?

A few other men were taken captive by the Americans, and Harper soon continued on to Fort Defyance. Perhaps you won’t be surprised to hear that Patriots in the area began to join his force: They’d taken heart when they saw how quickly Mann fled.

Nevertheless, the remaining Loyalists under Crysler and McDonell began gathering at Crysler’s farm.

Conflict was inevitable.

The cavalry reached Crysler’s first, and they were ambushed by Loyalists who had been hiding in the low, swampy plain in front of Crysler’s house. A handful of the cavalry were shot out of their saddles, but they quickly regrouped. A cavalry charge was soon launched.

Perhaps the first cavalry charge of the U.S. Army!

In the end, the Loyalists couldn’t hold their ground against the more experienced Continental cavalry. They fled! The Patriot cavalry did not pursue them because night was falling and the swampy ground was difficult for their horses.

The Patriots had the upper hand in the Schoharie Valley, at least for the moment.

P.S. The name of the battle comes from the name of the swampy area in which the conflict was fought: ‘die Flache’ or the Flockey.

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Primary Sources:

  • Documents of the Assembly of the State of New York (Volume 20) (1899)

  • Gavin K. Watt, Continental Dragoons in the Schoharie Valley, Journal of the American Revolution (August 12, 2013)

  • Jeptha Root Simms, History of Schoharie County and Border Wars of New York (1845)

  • The Old Stone Fort Museum website



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