Archaeologists find War of 1812 artifacts on Horse Island, near Sackets Harbor

Updated: Sep. 7, 2020 at 2:42 PM EDT
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WATERTOWN, N.Y. (WWNY) - The historic battle of Sackets Harbor in May of 1813 started with British troops making landfall on Horse Island. More than 200 years later, researchers are searching for new details about what happened there.

It’s a small island with some big history - something researchers from University of Binghamton’s Public Archaeology Facility are working to uncover.

They have found shell fragments, dropped musket balls, a side plate from a musket and buttons from military uniforms

“So we are using that evidence to help piece together the story that goes beyond what the primary documents say,” said Brian Grills, battlefield archaeologist.

Gills says he and his team found the artifacts on Horse Island. An archaeological survey of the island is being paid for with a $50,000 federal grant awarded to the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation.

“Horse Island being a major landing and reconnoitring point during the War of 1812, second battle of Sackets Harbor, May 29, 1813,” said Connie Barone, Sackets Harbor Battlefield site manager.

The island is noted as being the landing spot for British troops as they staged their attack against Sackets Harbor troops.

It was a battle that ended with British troops retreating back to Canada

Seasonal interpreter Theodore Schofield says he hopes the archaeology project will provide even greater detail about the historic battle.

“It will help us pinpoint the whats, the whens, the wheres and the hows And what type of engagement was actually probably on Horse Island and perhaps how long it lasted,” said Schofield.

Gills and his team will head back to Horse Island next week to finish up this season’s observations.

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