The proximity of a proposed dog run in Van Cortlandt Park to the site of a Revolutionary War massacre has sparked criticism from a group of Bronx historians.
The dog run — set to be built in the park’s Northeast Forest section — will replace the current makeshift dog run that occupies a space approximately 50 feet to the north of a memorial commemorating the site of the Stockbridge Indian Massacre of 1778. Wording on the memorial states that during the battle, British troops killed 17 Stockbridge Native Americans allied with Revolutionary soldiers, though historians say that enlistment records and reports from those who fled put the number closer to 40.
Members of the Kingsbridge Historical Society (KHS) liken the placement to putting a dog run next to the Vietnam Memorial or the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.
“This is really an affront to Americans who died during the war for our freedom,” said Thomas Casey, KHS secretary.
Mr. Casey described the history behind the Stockbridge Indian massacre, documented in the diary of British colonel John Graves Simcoe. A group of Mohicans, known as the Stockbridge Indians after settling in Stockbridge, Massachusetts, joined the Revolutionary War on the side of the Patriots.
The revolutionary army had assigned their regiment to patrol Westchester County, where they encountered Colonel Simcoe. After attempting to ambush the colonel and his troops, the Native Americans tailed him down into what is now the Kingsbridge area, though the colonel avoided capture.
Embarrassed by the chase, Colonel Simcoe traveled back north with a group of 500 men to the corner of what is now Van Cortlandt Park East between 233rd Street and McLean Avenue in the park, where the Stockbridge Indian regiment found itself in the midst of a British ambush.
Outnumbered and surrounded on all sides without immediate help from the Continental troops, the Native Americans began to flee and surrender, but Colonel Simcoe and his army, accompanied by the infamous British general Banastre Tarleton, or “Bloody Banastre,” slaughtered the Stockbridge troops on the spot, taking no prisoners.