Saturday, January 11, 2014


Location:   Horseheads, New York
Date:   1779

The Village of Horseheads lies in Chemung County, just north of Elmira and east of Corning. It is the only town in America dedicated to the American military horse, and its connection with horses goes back to the Revolutionary War.

In September 1779, a column of 5000 Patriots led by General John Sullivan were operating in the then-densely wooded region between Easton, Pennsylvania and Geneseo, New York, fighting both the British and their Iroquois allies. Although they were able to drive the British out of the area, the Iroquois continued to assault them. When the soldiers reached the location that would become Horseheads, they were obliged to slaughter their sick, starving and exhausted pack animals both for humanitarian reasons, for food, and to make better time.

In recognition of driving off the anti-British Euro-Americans the Native Americans built a cairn of the thousands of horse skulls left on the spot. After the Iroquois were eventually defeated, the Patriots returned to the place, and marked the cairn as a memorial to the animals that had sustained them and been sacrificed for them. When the town was settled in the early 1800s it retained the English version of the Iroquois name, "The Valley of Horses' Heads."

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