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Monday, April 4, 2016

Where it all begins: The Battle of Oriskany

At our last tea party I had the pleasure of unveiling the cover of my Revolutionary War novel. The Scarlet Coat will be the first book of my Hearts at War series that Pelican Book Group/White Rose Publishing will release. Today, I want to take you to where it all begins, a horrific battle that plays a role in each book in the series.

In August of 1777, one year and one month after the Declaration of Independence was signed, the British decided to use the Mohawk Valley as a spike into the heart of New England. Barry St. Leger was promoted to Brigadier General for the campaign and took with him eight hundred British, German, Loyalist, and Canadian troops, and almost one thousand allied Iroquois.

One of their first stops was Fort Stanwix (for a time renamed Fort Schuyler by the Continental forces, and near present day Rome, New York).

Areal view of Fort Stanwix

The British laid siege, but the Fort's commander, Colonel Peter Gansevoort, with his almost eight hundred men, refused to surrender.

Reenactment at Fort Stanwix

Thankfully, help was on the way.

General Nicholas Herkimer with his own troops and the local militia, tallying to about 800 men, were hurrying up along the Mohawk River to bring relief. Unfortunately, Molly Brant, sister of Joseph Brant, a Mohawk military and political leader, and one of the most feared Tories in the area, sent runners to inform the British of the American force.

St. Leger sent an intercept force totaling at least four hundred and fifty men. They ambushed the Continental troops in a ravine near the settlement of Oriskany, a battle that became known as one of the bloodiest battles in the American Revolutionary War.

Caught off guard and in a death trap, the Patriots lost over half of their men. Over four hundred men, including Herkimer himself who was wounded and died a few days later. On the British side, the Iroquois war party lost around sixty-five, while the British tallied only seven dead and twenty-one wounded, missing or captured.

But it wasn't a victory for the British.

While they succeeded in turning back the American relief column, the Continental force held the battlefield after the ambushers had withdrawn back toward Fort Stanwix. The Americans also succeeded in crumbling the moral of the Iroquois warriors which led to internal conflict and contributed the eventual failure of St. Leger's strike.

Back at Fort Stanwix the British siege only lasted a couple more weeks before news arrived that Benedict Arnold (yes, that one, but when he was still on the side of the Americans) was approaching with a large force (though his actual force was much smaller than rumor suggested). The unhappy Iroquois insisted the British withdraw...and so they did.

Major General Benedict Arnold
When Arnold and his column passed by Oriskany two weeks after the battle, many of the dead Americans still remained where they had fallen. By then the stench was horrific, as was the grisly scene.

A Woman Compelled by Christian Charity
Surrounded by the musket fire of the American Revolution, Rachel Garnet prays for her family to be safe.  When the British invade the Mohawk Valley, and her father and brother don't return from the battle, she goes in pursuit of them. She finds her brother alive but her father has been killed at the hand of the enemy. Amidst the death, how can she ignore a cry for help...? Rachel reluctantly takes in a badly wounded British officer. But how long can her sense of Christian duty repress her hatred for his scarlet coat?

A Man Lost to the Devastation of War
Passages of Scripture and fleeting images of society are all Andrew Wyndham recalls after he awakens to the log walls of his gentle prison. Even his name eludes him. Rachel Garnet insists he is a captain in the British army. He mourns the loss of his memory, but how can he hope to remember war when his “enemy” is capturing his heart?

A Scarlet Uniform Holds the Power to Unite or Divide
Andrew’s injuries are severe, his memory slow to return, and the secret of his existence too perilous to ignore. As Rachel nurses him back to health, his hidden scarlet coat threatens to expose the deeds of her merciful heart, and Andrew is forced to face a harrowing decision—Stay hidden and risk losing the woman he loves or turn himself in and risk losing his life.

Angela K Couch is an award-winning author for her short stories, and a semi-finalist in ACFW’s 2015 Genesis Contest for her Revolutionary War novel that will be published by Pelican Book Group. As a passionate believer in Christ, her faith permeates the stories she tells. Her martial arts training, experience with horses, and appreciation for good romance sneak in there, as well. Angela lives in Alberta, Canada with her “hero” and three munchkins.


  1. Thank you Angela for sharing that bit of history. Your book, The Scarlet Coat sounds very interesting. I love reading about that time in our history.

    1. Thank you so much! just found out today the book is now available for preorder. ;) So glad you could stop by today.


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