Master of Arts (MA)


Samuel C Smith

Primary Subject Area

History, Military; History, United States; History, General


1776-1781, Continental Army, Forts, Fort Stanwix, Mohawk Valley, New York


Due to the Select Supply System of 1780, New York was waiting on the coming grain harvest from the Mohawk and Schoharie Valleys, in order to provide its quota of provisions to Washington's army and the several forts in the state, including Fort Stanwix. Throughout the war, many officers and officials, held the common belief that the Mohawk Valley and its rich croplands could be defended as long as Fort Stanwix held. In May, August, and October of 1780, the Governor of Canada, Sir Frederick Haldimand, ordered raids on the Mohawk and Schoharie Valleys, which destroyed the harvests, preventing New York from using the grain harvest to fulfill its supply quotas. This led New York officers to repeatedly ask Washington to send supplies from his army's depots at Fishkill and West Point to Fort Stanwix, because the state had no supplies of its own to send, a request which Washington repeatedly honored, sometimes even sending all the food he had on hand in order to keep Stanwix supplied. The inability of New York to fulfill its supply quotas in 1780, coupled with the Loyalist and Indian raids on the Mohawk and Schoharie Valleys, show how Fort Stanwix was more of a liability to the Continental Army than an asset; due to its inability to properly protect the frontier from attack by highly mobile and motivated enemy forces, and the fort's constant drawing of provisions from Washington's supply depots, in 1780 and 1781.