Preservation group identifies 15 soldiers at NY Revolutionary War site

A group working to preserve a New York military cemetery from the Revolutionary War says it has identified 15 soldiers from Virginia believed to be buried there.

The Friends of the Fishkill Supply Depot has pored over old muster rolls, military correspondence, private letters, physicians’ journals and other documents to identify soldiers buried in unmarked graves on privately owned land in New York’s Hudson Valley.

So far, they’ve been able to identify 84 listed in the records as having died at Fishkill. The group announced the new identifications on Monday, including the soldiers from Virginia who died between 1778 and 1779. Other soldiers that have been identified hailed from Connecticut, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania and Canada.

“With each new name that is identified, we revisit the history and honor of this sacred site,” Lance Ashworth, president of the preservation group, said in a news release.

Among the Virginians identified by the group is Cpl. James Bartley, who served in the 1st Continental Artillery Regiment commanded by Col. Charles Harrison. Bartley was listed as sick at the Fishkill hospital on Sept. 12, 1778, and died sometime in October of that year. The Virginia soldiers also include 12 privates, and two others who had the rank of Matross, or artillery soldier.

During the American Revolution, the sprawling complex of barracks, stables, blacksmith shops, hospitals, armories and stockades served as a depot for Gen. George Washington’s Continental Army.

Officials and preservationists launched an effort a few years ago to protect the last remaining untouched parcel believed to hold the graves of hundreds of soldiers. In 2008, archaeologists used radar to confirm that the southern tip of the property alone contained the graves of more than 300 soldiers.

Members of the nonprofit group then began a project to identify some of the soldiers in the fall of 2010. Those listed in historical records as having “died at Fishkill” were likely buried there, since the practice of embalming a soldier’s body for shipment back home wasn’t developed until nearly a century later during the Civil War.

Chief researcher Judy Wolf said the group “will not rest until we know the names of every soldier who lies in the burial ground.”