Fierce fighting raged, but surprise was gone,
the Americans rallied and pushed hard,
the Indians fell back, out of the ravine,
the patriots driving them that far.
Hand-to-hand combat broke out brutally,
with knives, clubs, and rifle-stocks,
Iroquois would wait until patriots fired,
then while they reloaded, charge with tomahawk.
Herkimer saw his people being killed,
so he ordered them all to pair off,
one man would fire, the other would load,
now It was the Indians who felt sharp loss.
The killing continued, on through to morn,
until a thunder storm broke over the field,
the fighting quieted but neither side budged,
neither side put down powder or steel.
But as the storm passed, back at Stanwix,
the garrison heard of Herkimer’s plight,
they charged out into the near empty camps,
putting the few British still there to flight.
They plundered and pillage all that they could,
ransacking and stealing their supplies,
when word reached the battle, the Indians turned,
now it was their turn to be surprised.
The broke from the field, ran for the camps,
but when they arrived they saw it was too late,
the garrison had retreated back to the fort,
with their spoils behind a barred gate.
At Oriskany, Herkimer held the field,
so by the standards of the day he had won,
but neither side had gained that much from it,
despite all the bloody work that was done.
The patriots were too savaged to continue on,
to damaged to hope to lift the siege,
they retreat back east, to Fort Dayton,
to see to their wounds and their needs.
St. Leger found himself in a terrible spot,
supplies dwindling, his camp ransacked,
to make matters worse, mad Indian allies
started slinking off, not to come back.
Not long after another relief column,
led by a general who’s name won’t be said,
marched for Stanwix, convincing the Brits
they had little chance of not being bested.
St. Leger ordered his forces to retreat,
back to Canada his troops did go,
and the British plan to split the colonies
suffered from its first heavy blow.
Herkimer didn’t live to see that day,
his wound quickly became infected,
when the time came to amputate his leg,
it was botched up, and quite freely bled.
At least the brave man got to die in his home,
and his name is recalled in glory,
he remains a hero in upstate New York,
for his courage at Oriskany.
Copyright © David Welch | Year Posted 2018