An evergreen wreath, embellished with a red bow, an American flag and the flag of the U.S. Army, decorates the final resting spot of four colonial-era soldiers buried in Lake George’s Battlefield Park. The wreath came to Lake George last month from the Wreaths Across America Project through the efforts of the Lake George Battlefield Park/Fort George Alliance. Wreaths Across America honors fallen soldiers by laying thousands of wreaths in Arlington National Cemetery, and locations throughout the country, each December.
In Lake George, the memorial to these soldiers rises from a hill in Battlefield Park just alongside Fort George Road. The site commands a view of the battlefield-turned-park and the lake. The names of these soldiers are unknown. Their skeletons were unearthed by a highway crew in 1931 along State Route 9 and reinterred in Battlefield Park. The monument marking their grave was unveiled, with much ceremony, in 1935.
Historians, armed with forensic evidence, have concluded that the skeletons are the remains of men who came to Lake George under the command of Col. Ephraim Williams of Massachusetts. They are the oldest government-recognized unknown soldiers in the country. Williams and his men were ambushed by the French on Sept. 8, 1755, an engagement referred to as the Bloody Morning Scout, one of three events that day that are collectively called the Battle of Lake George.
The soldiers buried in the park were not members of the United States Army; they were British and died 20 years before the United States Army was founded. In a May 2017 ceremony at the memorial, Lake George Battlefield Park Alliance President Lyn Hohmann says she calls these men Americans. She explained that these men were defenders of the homeland, and their contributions paved the way for American independence.
The Lake George Battlefield Park Alliance holds Memorial Day ceremonies at the monument each year and recently upgraded the grounds immediately surrounding the monument, replacing crumbling asphalt with granite pavers. The official re-dedication will be held Memorial Day 2018.