Blenheim-Gilboa Visitors Center to Host Revolutionary War Reenactment, Weekend of May 31, To Mark 225th Anniversary of Battle of Cobleskill

Steve Ramsey
(607) 588-6380

Michael Saltzman
(914) 390-8181

May 20, 2003


NORTH BLENHEIM—Whether you’re a student of American history or enjoy a change of pace, a scheduled reenactment of a Revolutionary War battle on the weekend of May 31-June 1 in the woods and fields surrounding the New York Power Authority’s (NYPA) Blenheim-Gilboa Visitors Center complex here may be up your alley.

Some 300 American Revolutionary War re-enactors will mark the 225th anniversary of the Battle of Cobleskill on those two days, providing a “living history” of the May 1778 encounter between American patriots and British loyalists (Tories) who supported England’s King George III. In addition to the reenactment, over a 400-acre area, visitors will get a glimpse of various rituals, customs and practices of late 18th century America. They’ll include a ladies’ tea gathering, children’s games and toys, the typical political discourse of a local citizens’ meeting, and a Saturday night dance that the public is invited to participate in.

“This is a wonderful opportunity to get a real sense of this critical time in our history, when the country was divided over whether to pursue independence and self-government, or stay loyal to the Crown,” said Paul Supley, chairman of the Burning of the Valleys Military Association (BVMA), which reenacts military events of the Revolutionary War.

“The Battle of Cobleskill took the lives of 22 civilians and soldiers from the American Continental Army and militias. It also foreshadowed a brutal three-year period that saw most of the settlements in the Schoharie, Mohawk and Upper Hudson Valley burned to the ground, and nearly one-third of the civilian population carried away or killed,” said John L. Osinski, NYPA executive director, Regulatory Affairs, and BVMA deputy chairman.

The BVMA will be joined by two other Revolutionary War educational groups--the Continental Line and the British Brigade--in reenacting the fighting that began with a Tory raid on the tiny settlement of Cobleskill.

In the days before the attack, a large party of Loyalists and Native Americans arrived in the area intent on destruction of property and capture of influential citizens like George Warner, a member of the Schoharie District Committee of Safety. The raiding party and American forces clashed near Warner’s residence, leading to the wanton destruction of the Cobleskill settlement, according to Osinski, who, as one of the Revolutionary War re-enactors, serves in the 2nd Regiment, Albany County Militia, established in 1775.

The B-G Visitors Center complex, off Route 30 in Schoharie County, near Mine Kill State Park, is about 20 miles south of Cobleskill and only a 50-minute drive from Albany. It includes a converted 19th century dairy barn with interactive exhibits on electricity generation, and a manor house built in 1819 by John Lansing, a delegate to the Constitutional Convention in 1787.

“It’s seems fitting that the grounds surrounding the Lansing Manor will be the location for the commemorative reenactment of the Battle of Cobleskill since the house was built just a few decades later and by an individual who served in the Continental Army and then represented New York at the Constitutional Convention,” said Louis P. Ciminelli, NYPA chairman. “The Power Authority is delighted to host this reenactment, which highlights this state’s patriotic history and contribution to the War of Independence.”

(See scheduled times of the battle reenactments and other events.)

NYPA restored the Lansing Manor in 1977 to its original condition, and only recently renovated it. The manor house museum is operated by the Power Authority in cooperation with the Schoharie County Historical Society.

The Blenheim-Gilboa project is a pumped-storage generating facility that recycles water between upper and lower reservoirs to produce economical electricity during times of peak power demand. The 1,000,000-kilowatt project is located across the Schoharie Creek from the B-G Visitors Center, with much of the generating facility underground. It began producing electricity in 1973.

For more information on the May 31-June 1 events, contact Stephen Ramsey, NYPA senior community relations specialist, at (607) 588-6380.