Archaeologists Are Excavating the Battleground that Inspired ‘The Last of the Mohicans’

For these students, archaeology field school is taking place on a very famous battlefield

Fort William Henry
The Fort William Henry Museum and Restoration in New York Roman Soumar/CORBIS

An archaeological field school is currently excavating Lake George Battlefield Park in New York, the site of many military maneuvers during the French and Indian war, including the Battle of Lake George in 1755 and the Battle of Fort William Henry in 1757.

The latter battle was the inspiration for James Fenimore Cooper's book The Last of the Mohicans (which was also a 1992 movie). The Last of the Mohicans was written in 1826, 69 years after the massacre at Fort William Henry, in which 200 British troops and their allies were killed and the fort burned to the ground. Though they lost that battle, the British ultimately won the war, and in 1763 all French possessions east of the Mississippi were transferred to the British.

From the Associated Press:  

[Archaeologist David] Starbuck said he hopes to uncover evidence of the 1755 battle and the so-called entrenched camp that played a role in the siege and massacre that inspired James Fenimore Cooper’s “The Last of the Mohicans.” The field school last dug at the park site in 2001-02, uncovering a bayonet, musket barrel and military compass, among numerous other artifacts.

This season, the team has mostly uncovered fragments of wine bottles from the 18th century.

In addition to it’s literary connection, the field site is also believed to be the location of a Revolutionary War-era hospital, where soldiers were treated for smallpox after they returned from an incursion into Canada. 

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