The Mound in the Meadow:
Buffalo's Tomb of the Unknowns at Delaware Park
By Steve Cichon, staffannouncer.com

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We are trying to raise money very quickly so that we can unveil our new marker near Gate 8 of the Buffalo Zoo on Memorial Day 2012.

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  MARK YOUR CALENDARS:

The ceremony unveiling the marker and remembering the sacrifice of these brave men will be held

Memorial Day: MONDAY, MAY 28th, 2012 at 10:30am



Close up of plaque on the boulder


Monument on the Golf Course at Delaware Park



Michael Riester op-ed piece on the Mound in Meadow, with the possiblity of moving or expanding the Buffalo Zoo as a back drop. Buffalo News, 1999.



Photo from Western New York and the Gilded Age:
A Flapper plays on the cannon which once adorned either side of the monument stone.



From the Buffalo Gazette, Nov 12, 1812:
List of soldiers who had died in camp. The names were eventually no longer printed when it was a number of soldiers dying everyday.
From the Patrick Kavanagh Collection



Portion of 1929 Buffalo Evening News article relevant to Mound in the Meadow, accompanied photo to the right
From the Patrick Kavanagh Collection



From an 1896 Buffalo Times article, "An Historical Mound
Part 1
From the Patrick Kavanagh Collection



From an 1896 Buffalo Times article, "An Historical Mound
Part 2
From the Patrick Kavanagh Collection


BUFFALO, NY (staffannouncer.com) - The village of Buffaloe was, in 1814 described by one visitor as "a nest of villians, rogues, rescals, pickpockets, knaves, and extortioners."

When the British burned Buffalo, it was a small village of log cabins, with tree stumps strewn in the streets. It's difficult to imagine the Buffalo of 200 years ago, but suffice it to say, the the area that is now Forest Lawn cemetery, the Parkside neighborhood, and Delaware Park, then known as Flint Hill, far outside the tiny village, served as a home base for American troops invading British Canada during the early part of the War of 1812.

Roughly half of those garrisoned here never made it home.


Memorial Day 2011
About 60 WNYers showed up in force on Memorial Day 2011 for a staffannouncer.com-organized flag planting at the Mound in the Meadow. It was covered by all the major media outlets, and several national outlets as well, when the story was picked up by the Associated Press.

Event Photos

Buffalo News: Better memorial sought for grave of War of 1812 dead

WGRZ: Unknown Stories of WNY: Mound in the Meadow

Wall Street Journal: Flags to Mark Resting Place of 1812 troops in Buffalo


While the detail of the story follows, and is illustrated in the articles shown to the left, it's enough to know that basically, after several failed attempts to invade Fort Erie by crossing the Niagara, a decision was made that troops would spend the winter of 1812 at their home base at Flint Hill.

These were volunteers, mostly from places like Maryland, Virginia, and Southern Pennsylvania. They came to Buffalo in the summer time, with their southern-styled thin linen uniforms. They had open ended tents in which to sleep, and very few blankets. No woollen winter uniforms.No boots. Food was scarce this far out on the frontier. When sickness spread through the camp, called a "dreadful contagion" by the newspapers of the day, soldiers began to succumb. Quickly.

Given the rocky soil of the area, the fact that is was frozen solid in the harsh winter, and the fact that so many were dying so quickly, men were buried in graves around a foot deep on the edge of the camp. In the spring, Dr. Daniel Chapin, upon who's land they were camped, dug up and reburied all 300 men in a single trench, in an easy to dig meadow in the middle of his expansive backyard.

Chapin's home was at what is now Main Street and Jewett Parkway; his backyard, Delaware Park. He buried the men in the middle of what is now the golf course, and planted willow trees to mark the spot.

When 80 years later, the willow trees began to die, a marker was placed on a boulder, in the middle of what was then the Park Meadow.

Since then, the hallowed spot, and the sacrifice made by those men to defend our nation have slowly been forgotten; especially as the nation's first public golf course opened as that game began to sweep the nation just before the turn of the century.

In the 1920s, flappers used the cannons for playful photo backdrops (see left). By the 1940s, "The Cannons" were a well-known and well trodden night spot for teenagers looking to imbibe away from the watchful eyes of grown ups.

Ironically, by the late 60s, when the infamous Park Meadow Bar at Parkside and Russell was filled beyond capacity, the overflow crowd often went to the actual park meadow, with a 6 pack or a case to drink the night away.

At some point, the cannons disappeared. Sometime during the 1970s. Maybe something as simple as a parks worker sick of mowing around them, or the parent of one of those drunken youths making noise after he was "innocently" injured by one of those muzzleloaders. (If you know what happened to those cannon, let us know!!)

By the late 1990s, renewed efforts by area historians Michael Riester and Patrick Kanavagh began shedding new light on the War of 1812, and the Parkside area's roll in it.

A Flint Hill marker was placed at the corner of Main and Humboldt through the hard work or Patrick and Michael. Now, along with fellow historian Steve Cichon, they are trying to call attention to Buffalo's Tomb of the Unknowns, as the bicentennial of the War looming.

I dedicate it to the memory of those who, during the War of 1812, died from wounds and disease, and whose remains find here repose; who left home and friends, to repel the invasion of a foreign foe; to defend our hill sides, valleys and plains, and who feared not death in defense of the flag. I dedicate this memorial, which will for ages mark their final resting place, to their honor and memory.

May their noble example and this tribute to their honor and memory prove an incentive to future generations to emulate their unselfish loyalty and patriotism, when called upon to defend their country's honor, and if need be die in defence of the flag, the glorious stripes and stars, emblem of liberty, equal rights and National unity.

- Speech dedicating the Memorial, 1896

Below, you'll find two different full accountings of what happened in the Parkside/Forest Lawn/Delaware Park area during the winter of 1812 which left about 300 American soldiers buried in a single trench mass grave, in the middle of what's now Delaware Park golf course, without any real accounting of who was buried there.


From an 1929 Buffalo Evening News Article, from the Patrick Kavanagh Collection


From the Dedication of the Boulder Monument
July 4th, 1896

'Monument To Soldiers Of War Of 1812, In Park Meadow, Buffalo, July 4, 1896.

Presentation Speech, By Commissioner David F. Day.

I do not know in whose mind the good thought was first conceived, of erecting the enduring monument now before us, to mark the last resting place of the Soldiers of the War of 1812, who died in camp, not far from this spot, and are buried here. Nor is the inquiry important. It is enough that upon the earliest suggestion of the idea there was complete accord among the people of Buffalo, in the desire that the monument should be erected. It was felt that it was right that it should be done, and honorable as well to the living as the dead.

What though three-quarters of a century had passed since the hands of their comrades lowered their uncoffined remains into the shallow trench, so often a soldier's grave? What though their names were untold in tale or history, their numbers unrecorded, and the homes, from which they came, past discovery? It was known that they were American soldiers, who, at their country's call, had left their firesides and marched to the frontier of the State to repel a ruthless invader. It was known that while in such service they had died a soldier's death, not indeed upon the battle-field, amidst the smoke, the din, the clash and, I may say, the glory of actual conflict, but, not the less honorably, by the diseases which are so apt to follow army life, and which add so greatly to the horrors of war.

It was right, then, that the place of their interment should be marked by imperishable granite; and, although the duty was long delayed, it was right that when at last it was done, it should be done at the instance and the cost of the enterprising and opulent city, whose busy toil is heard even in this remote and tranquil spot. It was right too, and altogether appropriate, that the natal day of the Republic should be set apart for the celebration of a service so patriotic and honorable.

It is most agreeable to see that upon this day, the day of all days in our national calendar, so many of our citizens, men and women, the young and old, and so many of the patriotic organizations of the city, are here, giving their sanction to the occasion. It is most agreeable that our Musical Association, so largely composed of our citizens of foreign birth, are here to participate with the native born, in the service of the hour, and add to it the charm of their patriotic harmonies. And, beyond all, it is most agreeable that our honored citizens of the Grand Army of the Republic, who have learned in the school of experience what it is to peril health and strength and limb and life in their country's cause, are here to bear the principal part in the ceremonies which are to consecrate this spot forever as the burial place of the heroic dead.

Companion Zacher, Officers and Soldiers of the Grand Army: In the name of the Board of Park Commissioners of this city and by their authority, and in behalf of the good people of Buffalo, whose hearts are with us to-day, I now ask you to proceed with the ceremonies, which you have arranged for the occasion.

Commander.—The Chaplain will now offer the prayer of dedication.

Chaplain.—Almighty God, we thank Thee for Thy sovereign care and protection, in that Thou didst lead us in the days that were shadowed with trouble, and gavest us strength when the burden was heavy upon us, and gavest us courage and guidance, so that after the conflict we have come to these days of peace. We thank Thee that the wrath of war has been stilled, that the brother no longer strives against brother, that once again we have one country and one flag.

May Thy blessing be upon us as a people, that we may be Thy people, true and righteous in all our ways, tender and patient in our charity, though resolute for the right; careful more for the down-trodden than for ourselves, eager to forward the interest of every citizen throughout the land, so that our country may be indeed one country from the rivers to the seas, from the mountains to the plains.

We pray Thee to make our memories steadfast, that we never forget the generous sacrifices made for our country. May our dead be enshrined in our hearts. May their graves be the altars of our grateful and reverential patriotism. And now, O God, bless Thou this memorial:

Bless it, O God, in honor of mothers who bade their sons do brave deeds:

In honor of wives who wept for husbands who should never come back again:

In honor of children whose heritage is their father's heroic name:

In honor of men and women who ministered to the hurt and dying:

But chiefly, O God, in honor of the men "whose remains find here repose, who counted not their lives dear when their country needed them; where only Thine angels stand sentinels till the reveille of the resurrection morning. Protect it and let it endure, and unto the latest generation may its influence be for the education of the citizen, for the honor of civil life, for the advancement of the nation, for the blessing of humanity, and for the furtherance of Thy holy Kingdom. Hear us, O our God; we ask it in the name of Him who made proof of the dignity and who consecrated the power of sacrifice in His blessed life and death, even in the name of Jesus Christ, the great Captain of our salvation. Amen!

Comrades.—Amen.

Commander.—Attention! In the name of the Grand Army of the Republic, I now dedicate this memorial. I dedicate it to the memory of those who, during the War of 1812, died from wounds and disease, and whose remains find here repose; who left home and friends, to repel the invasion of a foreign foe; to defend our hill sides, valleys and plains, and who feared not death in defense of the flag. I dedicate this memorial, which will for ages mark their final resting place, to their honor and memory.

May their noble example and this tribute to their honor and memory prove an incentive to future generations to emulate their unselfish loyalty and patriotism, when called upon to defend their country's honor, and if need be die in defence of the flag, the glorious stripes and stars, emblem of liberty, equal rights and National unity.

Comrades, salute the dead. Present arms. Comrades, attention; carry arms.. As we close these exercises, the Guard of Honor is withdrawn, the flag is lowered, but the memorial we have dedicated remains. So long as it shall endure, it shall speak to us and to all of the loyalty of those whose memory we honor, and of that significant National authority of which our flag is the symbol, to every American heart.

Historical Sketch, By Capt. M. M. Drake.
It is proper to explain, by way of preface, that the following brief history of the soldiers, whose memory we are here to honor to-day by dedicating a monument in perpetuating their noble service, is not written from official records, as it was found impossible to secure any. The history is very brief, their active war service was of short duration; but they did all for their country that anyone could ;—they gave their lives.

All the State records of the War of 1812 have been transferred from the Adjutant General's office of the State of New York to Wash1ngton, D. C, and when application was made there, it was stated that they were in such a chaotic state that it would be months before any data could be made available.

The only resources left were our local histories and the publications of the Buffalo Historical Society; the articles furnished by William Hodge, who during the later years of his life furnished many on the early history of Buffalo, and was a recognized authority.

During the winter of 1812 and 1813, there were encamped on what was then known as "Flint Hill," in the vicinity of the Parkway, north of the Main Street entrance to Forest Lawn, a body of troops known as General Smyth's "Regulars," under the command of Lieutenant Colonel F. McClure. General Alexander Smyth, who was assigned to the command of the Niagara Frontier in October, of 1812, was a Virginian and held his commission as Brigadier-General in the Regular Army.

Active operations were commenced in November of the same year, by a contemplated move of the forces across the Niagara River, and for this purpose, proclamations were issued calling for additional troops.

In obedience to this call, a considerable force came to Buffalo, consisting of the following: A brigade of militia, two thousand strong from Pennsylvania; three or four hundred New York Volunteers, including two companies of Silver Greys (so called by reason of the men of which they were composed being of advanced age); three companies of "Irish Greens" and one of "Baltimore Blues." November 28th, a little after midnight, two small detachments were sent across the river from Black Rock, and landed at Fort Erie, capturing two batteries and between thirty and forty prisoners. This movement was not followed by any reinforcements and no substantial benefits resulted.

Two more attempts were made to cross, but owing to the vacillating mind of the Commanding General, were abandoned and active operations ceased. The Militia and most of the Volunteers were sent home and the Regulars went into winter quarters.

During the winter, the dread disease, camp or typhus fever, broke out, induced undoubtedly by their exposure in the winter campaigning; and deprived as they were of comfortable hospitals and sufficient supply of medical agents, nearly half their number died, or fully three hundred.

The bodies were put in plain board coffins and temporarily buried near the camp, in ground where the rock came so near the surface that their graves could not be more than one foot in depth. Afterwards they were removed to this spot and buried in one trench, unmarked save by the planting of a willow tree at each end of the trench, about fifty feet apart.

Here they have rested unknown, unnamed, these many years, and will remain so for all time, except as the Soldiers of 1812.

Oration By Hon. Sherman S. Rogers.
Not far from the year 1790, Capt. William Johnston, a retired British officer, enamored of a half wild life and attracted by the natural beauty of the place, built a small block-house near what is now the corner of Washington and Exchange Streets, in the City of Buffalo, and said: "Here shall be my home."

Cornelius Winne, the Indian Trader, was his only neighbor, and all the delightful wilderness about him was almost unbroken. Here he married a Seneca wife and raised a dusky family. The Indians loved him and gave him a large tract of land within what are now the city bounds; and at the corner of Crow (now Exchange) Street and Washington Street he laid out a few square rods of land as a place of burial. In this small quadrangle the first dead of a growing hamlet found repose, and there, about the year 1808, Captain Johnston himself was buried.

The little mounds that marked the scattering graves gradually sank away to the common level, the log-fence decayed and the cattle strayed carelessly through; the blackberry bushes, the wild thorns and sassafras, and sumachs grew over the graves, and the "poor inhabitants below" were forgotten. But the simple story that on yon crowded and ncisy corner was once a quiet place of graves has even now an interest which touches the imagination and sobers the thought. The growing village next found a God's acre overlooking the lake and river in what was long known as Franklin Square, the site of the present City and County Hall. There, in 1815, the noble Indian Chief, Farmer's brother, was buried with military honors—but the last interment there was sixty years ago. It was a sad and ill-kept place in 1841, as an old citizen, who played among its sandy mounds that year, well remembers, and only the nameless or friendless occupants remaining there when the city appropriated the site for civic purposes.

Happier conditions attended the silent sleepers in this broad meadow, where the Park Commissioners, with patriotic justice, have placed this monumental stone. The willow wands that marked this spot in 1813 took root and throve and grew to be great and beautiful trees. Above the unnoted graves the grass and grain of more than seventy summers have waved. If perchance some one who knew the story of the sleeping soldiers strayed across the green meadow, to spend a thoughtful hour under the willows, he heard no sound more discordant than the songs of the birds and the scythe of the mower. The devouring city has not touched these graves—but the beneficent and grateful city has thrown about them a protection which, let us hope, will never be removed. Of the men who were here buried, some 300 or more were Federal soldiers— not militiamen—under the command of General Smyth. In the fall of 1812 a fever broke out in their camp on Flint Hill—so named from the character of the rock which crops out in places—west of Main Street and a little north of Humboldt Parkway, and there was great mortality among the ill-cared-for soldiers. Doubtless, there were others besides regular soldiers who languished and died in that camp hospital and who lie here. A friend has furnished me memoranda which make it more than probable that volunteers from Baltimore and Albany, and other places more or less remote, share this burial ground with the regulars of the not very highly esteemed General Smyth—whose career on this frontier did not indicate that he was born to command an army. The dead were first interred near the camp, but the next year the bodies were removed by Dr. Daniel Chapin to this place, where they were buried in two great trenches, at either end of which the good Doctor planted the two willow wands of which I have spoken. It is an interesting fact that they were cut from the great willow on the lawn of Dr. Chapin's home on Main Street, so well known for many years as the residence of our esteemed townsman, Elam R. Jewett; and that the brave old parent tree is still standing and vigorous to this day. May I not contribute something to the appropriateness of this occasion by suggesting that it would be a beautiful thing were the granddaughter of Dr. Chapin asked to plant two fresh willow wands in the places where those set by her ancestor grew to be great trees, and at last in the decreptitude of age succumbed to the storm.

There were two Doctors Chapin here in those days, both men of marked character and force. Dr Daniel Chapin must not be confounded with the fighting doctor, Cyrenius Chapin. He was more essentially a man of peace, and I have not learned that he ever emulated Dr. Cyrenius in deeds of arms, but one of Dr. Daniel's great-grandsons, the late Col. Warren Granger of the 1ooth New York Volunteers, was one of the most gallant soldiers who went from Buffalo to take part in the War for the Union. His mother, born Mary Norton, resides in Buffalo, and was the daughter of Capt. Walter Norton, well remembered as one of our early lake captains, and a member of the famous firm of Porter, Barton & Co. Col. Granger's father, the late Warren Granger, was a citizen much esteemed and well beloved.

Dr. Daniel Chapin, by whose patriotic kindness these poor victims of the War of 1812 found this pleasant resting place, was a man of mark. The late Dr. John S. Trowbridge, writing of him in 1869, says: "He was a graduate of Yale College, a cultivated man and a skillful physician" He removed to this vicinity in 1807, and resided until his death, on the farm of which this great Park Meadow is a part, in the house of which I have already spoken as for many years the residence of Elam R. Jewett. Dr. Trowbridge, in the paper from which I have already quoted, also says: "Between Drs. Daniel and Cyrenius Chapin there always prevailed an intense but wordy rivalry. In some respects they resembled each other, especially in the possession of an indomitable will."

War Of 1812.
The story of the War of 1812 has been fully told, and at this day but little can be added to it, but to the student of American history it has a great and to the citizens of Buffalo a peculiar interest. Here was a thriving village of 100 houses and about 500 people when the war was declared. There was a smaller settlement at Black Rock. It was inevitable that the earliest collisions should occur along the Niagara frontier The war had been long threatened, but there was little preparation for it on our side. The only real anxiety these courageous people seemed to have was as to the conduct of the Indians, but their apprehensions in that behalf were soon quieted, and on both sides of the Niagara the loyal people with great promptitude threw up earthworks and mounted such guns as they could procure intent on mutual destruction. Mr. Dorsheimer, in his paper on Buffalo during the War of 1812, read before the Historical Society in 1863, says: "The English threw up batteries at Waterloo and the Americans constructed some earthworks at Black Rock. . . . On the south side of Conjaquadies Creek, and near its mouth was the Sailors' Battery, in which was mounted three long 32-pounders. On the site of Mr. William A. Bird's house, occupying that and the adjoining lot, was a battery defended by three guns. On the grounds now occupied by the stables of the Niagara Street Railway Company was Fort Tompkins, the largest of the fortifications. Its armaments consisted of six or seven pieces of different caliber. In the rear of the fort and extending across the road was a range of sheds used as barracks. Further south (not far from the Water Works), and at the bottom of a ravine which may still be seen, was a mortar battery armed with one eight-inch mortar, popularly called the 'Old Sow.'" (Let me say here that this mortar is believed to be the one that so many years marked the corner of Main and Dayton Streets, and was lately, by permission of the family of the late George R. Potter, to whom it belonged, placed at the foot of the Soldiers' Monument in Lafayette Park.)

A most interesting fact connected with it is that when Judge Wilkeson and his associates wanted a hammer with which to drive the piles for the first harbor pier in 1820 they improvised it from this then unfruitful old iron, and reverified the apothegm that "peace hath her victories no less renowned than war." "On the northerly corner of the Fort Porter Grounds," Mr. Dorsheimer continues, "stood a light earthwork in which was one 24-pounder gun. On the'Terrace, in the village near the present Western Hotel, was a breastwork sometimes called a battery. I cannot learn that it was ever armed. It may have been temporarily armed, but if so, only with field-pieces. These works were intended to cover the river and the opposite shore. Except the Sailors' Battery, none of them offered any obstacle to a force advancing on the village from the north.

BURNING OF BUFFALO.
On the 13th of August, 1812 the first shot was fired from the river batteries. Between that date and the raising of the siege of Fort Erie by the British General, Drummond, following, and as a result of the glorious sortie which took place a few days earlier, is crowded a varied and thrilling history, the details of which have been carefully guarded by our local Historical Society, from whose archives and publications I have freely drawn in this address. The story of the destruction of Buffalo in the dead of winter by the enemy and their savage auxiliaries, the alarm and panic of the villagers, the ineffectual, but in part, gallant resistance of the undisciplined and ill-armed militia, the fright and flight of the citizens through the forest and over the wretched country roads, the burning of the two villages, only one house left standing, the ruthless destruction of property, the slaughter of unoffending non-combatants, all this in the days and nights of a bleak December; this is the story of war, cruel, savage, horrible. I have no desire to dwell on these scenes. Three-quarters of a century have passed since they were enacted, but they give to the early history of this great city a tragic interest. One figure I select from the citizens who fought as they fled from the burning village. It is that of the carpenter, stout Job Hoysington. As his comrades retreated up Main Street he refused to go further, declaring that he "must have one mflre shot at the redskins." The chronicle says: "Nothing more was heard of Job Hoysington until the snow disappeared in the spring, when his body was found on North Street. A bullet had passed through his head, and marks of a tomahawk were found on his skull. His empty rifle lay by his side, a silent witness that he had had his last shot at the Indians." When the wealthy residents of North Street desire to erect a monument to some citizen who has proved himself worthy of imperishable bronze, I beg to commend to them the claims of Job Hoysington. If still another be wanted, who better can be found than the fighting physician, Doctor-Colonel, or ColonelDoctor, Cyrenius Chapin, whose pill-bags were early renounced for holsters, and who was perhaps, if we except Gen. Peter B. Porter, the most enterprising military character that Buffalo gave to the war.

NATIONAL SPIRIT.
Mr. President, I cannot close without expressing to you and your associates in the Park Commission the gratification I feel in common with every citizen of Buffalo in the placing of this monumental stone. It is necessary that the public places of the city should be under the control of a body which will not permit them to be encumbered, not to say desecrated, by improper monuments. Such monuments are among the gravest of all impertinences. But, sir, every condition of fitness is met by this granite boulder and the history it commemorates.

There seem to be indications of something like a revival in National spirit. The general applause with which the flag has been unfurled over the common schools and the formation of various societies of the sons and daughters of the American Revolution are among the more notable signs that Americans of to-day feel the worth of the National heritage and do not intend to neglect the duties it entails. But, sir, this is a very different America from any the fathers ever dreamed of. The duties of citizenship become yearly more complicated and difficult and the descendants of the old stock need to be animated with a double portion of the spirit of their progenitors. This, and this alone, will enable them to lead this mighty people into the enjoyment of a true liberty in the Greater America.


From The Complete History of Parkside (2009)
Chapter 2: Parkside Goes to War

Erastus Granger had been at Flint Hill less than a decade; the Plains Rangers less than five years when the War of 1812 broke out. The Parkside/Flint Hill area played several prominent roles in that conflict. Flint Hill was an encampment and training ground for soldiers preparing to invade Canada. It was also a sanctuary when the village of Buffalo was burned to the ground. Given the nature of war and brutal Buffalo winters, the area also served as a burial ground for hundreds who never made it home.

From the Dedication of the Boulder Monument
Throughout much of the documentation about the War of 1812, the Flint Hill Camp was described as "Camp near Buffalo." This was explained in Peace Episodes on the Niagara (Buffalo Historical Society, 1914). "In 1812, the Army of the Frontier went into winter quarters at Flint Hill, with Scajaquada creek as a convenient water supply." Barton Atkins, the great chronicler of history of this period, wrote about the encampment in Modern Antiquities: The camp extended on Main Street from the present Humboldt Parkway northerly to the lands of Dr. Daniel Chapin... and westerly to the head of the Park Lake, on lands belonging to Erastus Granger. On the Main-street front of this old camp-ground stand several venerable oaks, relics of the old camp. The one directly opposite the Deaf and Dumb Asylum is distinguished as the one under which a row of soliders kneeled when shot for desertion in the spring of 1813.

The camp spread from what is now Forest Lawn to near Jewett Parkway along Main Street, and stretched as far back as the Delaware Park Lake. The shooting mentioned was Buffalo's first execution. As of 1914, one of the old trees that bore witness to the capital punishment still remained in the backyard of 24 Florence Avenue (corner of Crescent.)

Flint Hill, along with the rest of the Niagara Frontier, was a hotbed of activity early in the war as a planned launching point for the invasion of British Canada, and as it was Indian Agent Granger's job to keep the Native Americans neutral. The Buffalo Gazette of June 2nd, 1812, reports Granger met with the chiefs of the Six Nations, at which time they acknowledged no desire to enter conflict between the US and Canada.

By early August however, after the rumor spread of the British and their Indian Allies gaining control of Seneca-owned Grand Island, Seneca chief Red Jacket told Granger that the Seneca Warriors wished to join the conflict against the British and "drive off those bad people from our land." As his correspondence from the time shows, Granger spent much of the ensuing year walking a tightrope, trying to make both the Indians and the powers in Washington happy.

The most complete meetings of chiefs in many years was held again on Main Street at the Granger farm in September, and this time the Senecas, the Onondagas, and the Cayugas voted to "take up the hatchet on behalf of the United States." Those who volunteered their services at the council agreed that they "would go home as soon as the council fire was extinguished, arm and equip themselves for battle, and return to Buffalo."

Though it was the continued hope to keep the young men of the Six Nations neutral, given the fact that "within a fortnight, between two and four hundred savages" would be in Buffalo ready to fight, President James Madison was forced to allow Granger to accept the services and organize the warriors of the Six Nations.

Still, there were many stops and starts in the Iroquois joining the war effort. Several times, after being asked to assemble, native warriors weren't used. After nearly a year of "dancing" between native chiefs and Washington bureaucrats, the two sides kept in alliance by the constant work of Granger, it was Granger’s safety that ultimately had the Indians take to arms in combat.

They finally entered the conflict when their friend, Erastus Granger, was in peril. The Canadian British put a price on his head, and had Flint Hill... yes, modern day Parkside... marked for destruction. Judge Granger received word of this on July 10, 1813, and sent word to the greatest Seneca warrior of his time, the old chief Farmer's Brother. Granger's longtime compatriot, who fought in both the French and Indian War of the 1760s, and the American War of Independence, had received a medal from George Washington for his service. It was also "from Washington's lips" that came the name “Farmer's Brother," by which the chief would be known for the rest of his days.

A man of at least 80 years old in 1813, Farmer’s Brother traveled from his hut in the Indian village in today's South Buffalo, to what's now the Parkside neighborhood, with warriors in tow, ready to fight. The Indians readied for war at the Granger home on Main Street. James Granger wrote an account of the night in his 1893 book Granger Genealogy. The chief and his followers arrived at 11 o'clock, and the night was spent preparing for the coming fray. Bullets were molded by the great fire in the kitchen (of the Granger Homestead), messengers hurried into the neighboring village for arms and ammunition, and the Indians were banqueted on unlimited salt pork prepared by Mrs. Granger's own hands.

After over a year of waiting to join the conflict, the Senecas would finally join the war. Granger, led by Farmer's Brother and the Senecas followed Guide Board Road (North Street today) to Black Rock. There, they met with General Porter, who decided to initiate an offensive against the British along the shores of the Niagara River.

The Senecas prepared for battle in a ritual never seen by the American troops assembled at the spot. They took of all of their clothes; stripped down to their breechcloths. Granger and the Senecas were on the right side of the line, regulars in the middle, white volunteers to the left, ready to take on the British. At the order of General Porter, the Indians leapt forward with a yell that startled both their enemy... and their allies. Within minutes, the enemy had retreated. The Indians had even rushed into the water to pull soldiers from their boats as they paddled in retreat for the safety of the Canadian shore. The victory was complete. Buffalo, Black Rock, and Granger's Flint Hill Estate were safe, for now, due mostly to the tenacity of Farmer's Brother's men.

Because of its location, both high in elevation, and a relatively safe-yet-close-enough distance to Black Rock, Flint Hill had become an important meeting place for the military leaders both the United States and of the Six Nations (now Five Nations, with the Mohawks fighting along side the British.) Captain George Howard of the 25th Infantry spent some time at the Granger place recovering his strength and health. He wrote home to Connecticut on June 6, 1813, that he had met many of the famous chiefs of the Six Nations, including Red Jacket, Parrot Nose, Bill Johnson, Young King, Farmer's Brother, and Silver Heels.

The Burning of Buffalo

Five months after that first battle, in December, 1813, by now Col. Granger and 83 Seneca Warriors under his command again responded to a British attack on Black Rock, but this time, they were forced to retreat when so many other soldiers fled from the line. Granger returned to his home, several miles away, to relative safety. As hoards of men retreated, and the lines of protection broke apart, the British marched up Niagara Street from Black Rock to Buffalo, and over the course of the coming days, laid torch to all but a handful of buildings in the village of Buffalo.

As the British and their Indian allies made their way towards Buffalo, the women and children of the village moved north up Main Street in an obviously harried fashion. Though many fled as far as Clarence Hollow and Williamsville, many dozens sought refuge and stayed safe in the home of Judge Granger on Flint Hill, and in the homes of the Buffalo Plains. As mentioned in the previous chapter, it is noted in several histories, including Studies of the Niagara Frontier, that homes on the Buffalo Plains, like that of Zachary Griffin, were not burned because, "the Indians in their course of destruction with musket and firebrand were too much overcome with liquor before they reached this house to do any further damage."

In fact, none of the buildings as far north as current day Parkside were burned as the British and their Indian allies left Buffalo a pile of smoldering timber. It made the area, especially Granger's place, a location where many women and children took up semi-permanent residence, while the men who weren’t taking to arms took to rebuilding the village. Encampment at Buffalo

Picture Delaware Park, all along the Scajaquada Expressway, over the Park Meadow and golf course, all the way up to Main Street filled with tents, bonfires, and soldiers milling about. As early as September 1812, over a year before the burning of Buffalo, General Alexander Smythe had planned to use Buffalo and Black Rock as a staging ground for an invasion of Canada; many of his troops, particularly Pennsylvania volunteers under the command of General Adamson Tannehill, were camped and drilling at Flint Hill.

Smythe was an interesting character, if not an effective General, or even a buffoon. His actions (and inactions) make it apparent that he felt that inspirational writing and speeches could surmount instilling discipline and training his men, many of whom were not professional soldiers, but volunteers; signing up only as the Union was in peril. Smythe was written of by Frank Severance in Episodes of Peace on the Niagara (1914): He was... often ridiculous, and has been remembered... chiefly because of certain bombastic proclamations which he issued during his short career in Buffalo and vicinity. Historians... have written of him only in a vein of amused contempt.... calling him "supercilious, dictatorial, impertinent." (and) "indecisive, puerile and cowardly."

The folly and incompetence of General Smythe made his troops rambunctious. During the fall and winter of 1812, many citizens of the Buffalo area were alarmed to find their fields and barns being plundered by Smythe’s hungry or simply bored soldiers. William Hodge, Jr. wrote about one series of incidents in Recalling Pioneer Days: Once several fat sheep were put into a horse stable, among the horses, just at night to be dressed the next morning; but when morning came they were gone. They had been taken a short distance into the orchard, and dressed, or butchered and carried off to camp. At last some of the soldiers were caught at this work. They were taken to their camp, and delivered up to the officers for punishment; but to this the officers were not disposed. This rather exasperated some of the inhabitants, who asked the commanding officer what they should do to the soldiers if they were caught at any more of these depredations. He said, “Shoot them, shoot them down the rascals.”

After this a number of the young men of the town kept watch at night. Of this group Velorus Hodge was one and they kept watch one night at the bridge of Granger’s creek, Main street. (This is roughly the intersection of Main Street and Jefferson Avenue.) After a while the one on guard outside discovered eight soldiers crossing the bridge, and hailed them. They answered, “What businesses have you to stop soldiers on the march?” and then a pistol was fired by one of them. The guard returned the fire. This started out those in the house; they sallied forth and all fired at the soldiers giving them an effectual peppering with shot.

Five of the soldiers fell to the ground and three making their escape. Of the five four were wounded by the shot; the fifth fell to save himself from being shot. These five were marched into camp the next morning and delivered over to the commanding officer, who approved of the course taken by the citizens. This put a check upon the stealing and plundering for quite a while.

Granger's Creek is today Scajaquada Creek. The bridge talked about, though well hidden, still goes over Main Street near Jefferson. Plans to Invade Canada Hatched in Parkside

Plainly, his troops hated him. General Smythe wrote many verbose and bombastic proclamations to his troops, and verbally delivered several more, most of which won him "the derision of friend and foe." He was known as "Alexander the Great" and "Napoleon the Second." Plenty of his hot air was blown in preparation for his plans to invade Canada.

Those plans were set into motion on November 28, 1812. Smythe had as many as 8,000 men champing at the bit. He had been building, collecting, and fixing boats by the dozen for crossing the Niagara River at Black Rock. At this point, Smythe's rhetoric had worked, whipping his men into a frenzy, ready to spill across the river at Black Rock for the glory of the union. Trumpets played Yankee Doodle Dandy, further lighting the fires under the men on a cold winter day, with wind and snow blowing off the Niagara River. An early morning crossing of 420 men in 21 boats were met with musket fire as they approached the shore to the south of Fort Erie. What happened next was the final straw for Smythe's men. What happened… was nothing. Wrote Frank Severance in Episodes of Peace on the Niagara (1914): From sunrise to late afternoon, his army was embarking- the enemy on the other side of the river, in constantly-increasing numbers, looking on at the show. General Smythe did not appear at all, leaving the details to his subordinates. For hours the troops shivered in the boats, some of which, stranded on shore, filled with snow and ice. Late in the day, when at length everything seemed ready for a grand movement across the stream, General Smythe issued an amazing order: "Disembark and dine!" Disgusted and angered, the whole force was at the point of rebellion.

Two more days of similar commands to climb aboard boats... spend the day in the tiny wooden craft, freezing along the Niagara River shore in late November Buffalo weather, and then never leaving that snow and ice- filled shore.

After having been “whipped into a frenzy” days before, some men smashed their muskets against trees in disgust, and many of those who didn’t ruin their guns made mutinous use of them, firing in the direction of Smythe himself. Legend has it that musket ball holes filled General Smythe's Flint Hill tent by the end of that third night. Of the 1700 Pennsylvania volunteers camped at Flint Hill, 600 deserted in a 24 hour period. General Peter Porter wrote an article in the Buffalo Gazette calling Smythe a coward for refusing to move forward with the planned invasion. The two fought a duel with pistols, but both shots were errant, neither hitting the other.

Between his officer colleague and the angry soldiers under his command, Smythe had survived perhaps dozens attempts on his life over a two week period, and had had enough. On December 17, 1812, within days of his three failed attempts at invading Canada, and, fresh on the heels of gun fire pointed in his direction from both a fellow general and his own men, Smythe would leave Buffalo and Flint Hill for his native Virginia. The Army Register states that he was "disbanded." But the soldiers who lived through the rest of the winter of 1813 on Flint Hill had not yet seen the worst of it all. A horrific lasting monument to the war, still in Parkside, but little known, had yet to be created. Buffalo's Tomb of the Unknowns

Enlist your imagination once again. Picture living in Buffalo, in November and December, in open-ended tents, wearing linen uniforms, and having only very few, if any, blankets, coats, socks and boots. It was these conditions in Parkside in 1813 that yielded the mass, virtually unmarked grave that thousands of Western New Yorkers unknowingly drive by each day as they commute by Delaware Park on Route 198.

Up until the time of Smythe’s abortive campaign to invade, the mostly Southern soldiers all lived in mere pup tents. In Buffalo. In the winter. Once the offensive proved a failure, they were ordered to build huts for the winter, but most were slow to comply. The troops stationed on Flint Hill were mostly from Pennsylvania, and even further south, and showed up to Buffalo, in autumn, in their linen uniforms. Now winter had arrived, but more appropriate uniforms had not. Many Buffalo, Flint Hill, and Buffalo Plains families took in soldiers, but the village was just too small to accommodate the great number of troops wintering here.

Food supplies were unreliable to the front in Buffalo, and food that arrived was often rancid. Colonel Widner, Smythe's second in command, stationed at Fort Niagara, had been experiencing the same conditions to the north. He reported in a letter to his commander in at Flint Hill, "We're starving at this end of the line for bread." The conditions were same at the camp that ran through what is now Forest Lawn Cemetery, along Main Street to the north, and into Delaware Park.

It is among these demoralized, starving, freezing troops that a "Camp Distemper," described as a "dreadful contagion" broke out. The following account comes from an American prisoner of the British, and pays eyewitness account to what the winter of 1812-13 was like in Parkside:

That the enemy have about 3,000 troops one mile and a half in rear of Black Rock, under camp at a place called Judge Granger's, where the General (Smythe), his aide-de-camp and several officers of rank live.. their camp is unhealthy... they die from eight to nine daily... the dead.. are put into holes two or three of which are made every day, and into each put two to four dead men. The doctors say the disease is as bad as the plague. The patients are first taken with a pain in the head, and in an hour-and-a-half or two hours they invariably die. Besides this disease he mentions their being afflicted with pleurisy, dysentery, and measles.

The Buffalo newspapers of the day daily listed the names of the dead, until the numbers became too great; eventually the Army stopped releasing the names. The home towns, listed next to the names, show, once again, that these men, from places like Baltimore, southern Pennsylvania, and Virginia, would have likely had a difficult time acclimating to Buffalo's winter climate, even without the starvation and disease that was present. From the Buffalo Gazette, on December 22, 1812: The FEVER, which has made such dreadful havoc among our soldiers and citizens, continues to rage. The Physicians are taking unwearied pains to ascertain the character of the disease and to prescribe an effective remedy for it. Bloodletting is generally fatal in violent cases.

It wasn't just soldiers who contracted this illness. While the causes of many of their deaths are lost to history, it’s a fact that many residents of the Buffalo Plains and Flint Hill died during this time. Among those who passed that winter were Samuel Atkins, the first Plains Ranger, and Parthenia Chapin, the wife of Dr. Daniel Chapin.

Whether Mrs. Chapin died from one of the many illnesses sweeping through the camp or not, it is certain that she knew of the suffering first hand. It was on the outskirts of the Chapin property that the several daily shallow graves mentioned above were dug. As any gardener in Parkside knows, Flint Hill derives its name from the rocky soil abundant in the area. This is also apparent to anyone who drives the Kensington Expressway; and sees the solid rock that was blasted through near the Scajaquada Expressway interchange.

While digging graves by hand would be a challenge in good weather, these graves, again two or three per day, were being dug in the difficult frozen ground of winter. Often times, they were no more than a foot deep. Dr. Chapin offered his land for the burial, and tavern owner William Hodge was pressed into service to make coffins for the dead. Records say he crafted 300 pine coffins to be used for burying the soldiers who died while encamped on Flint Hill. Written in Buffalo Cemeteries (1879):

The troops of General Smythe remained at Flint Hill until the following spring. During this time there prevailed among them a typhoid epidemic. Deprived as they were of comfortable hospitals, and a sufficient supply of medical agents, it carried off about three hundred of them. They were put into plain pine board coffins, furnished by William Hodge Sr., and temporarily buried near the south line of the Chapin place; but the rock came so near to the surface that their graves could not be more than about a foot in depth.

The ensuing spring they were removed some distance, to the north side of the farm, where the ground was a sandy loam and easily dug. Leave to bury them there being given by the respective owners of the farms, Capt. Rowland Cotton and Doctor Daniel Chapin, they were deposited directly on the dividing line between these farms, in one common grave. Doctor Chapin planted two yellow willows, one at each end of the grave, which have become large trees, and are yet growing. The grave itself remaining undisturbed to this day.

The grave was to be known in coming years as "The Mound in the Meadow," with those willows coming from clippings of a yellow willow taken from Daniel Chapin's yard. The willows lasted on the site until at least 1896, when on July 4th; a boulder was placed on the site of the grave, with a marker attached. It's worthy to note that among those dead might not only be US soldiers, but perhaps servants who died while attending to the sick, and perhaps even prisoners of war- Canadian and British being held captive who met the same horrible fate as the Americans.

Aside from the boulder in the middle of the golf course, the mass grave of 300 American Soldiers, fallen in wartime service, goes unmarked, and unremembered, having been largely ignored for the last 100 years. Plans to properly mark the spot and honor the dead have come and gone over the last two centuries; you'll read of those plans as the story continues.

As the spring of 1813 broke, and Chapin and Cotton were giving proper burial to the dead, some of those soldiers who had survived the horrible winter began to think pacifist thoughts, and wanted to leave while the getting was good. The commanding officers made an example of several soldiers who tried to desert. As a previously included account spells out, these deserters were knelt in a row and shot in front of several oak trees along Main Street near, generally near what is today Florence Avenue. Their bodies were then hanged from the trees to dissuade any further desertion from the ranks at Flint Hill.

Wait! There's more!

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