The Legacy of Fort William Henry

Resurrecting the Past

David R. Starbuck

Fort William Henry, America’s early frontier fort at the southern end of Lake George, New York, was a flashpoint for conflict between the British and French empires in America. The fort is perhaps best known as the site of a massacre of British soldiers by Native Americans allied with the French that took place in 1757. Over the past decade, new and exciting archeological findings, in tandem with modern forensic methods, have changed our view of life at the fort prior to the massacre, by providing physical evidence of the role that Native Americans played on both sides of the conflict. Intertwining recent revelations with those of the past, Starbuck creates a lively narrative beginning with the earliest Native American settlement on Lake George. He pays special attention to the fort itself: its reconstruction in the 1950s, the major discoveries of the 1990s, and the archeological disclosures of the past few years. He further discusses the importance of forensic anthropology in uncovering the secrets of the past, reviews key artifacts discovered at the fort, and considers the relevance of Fort William Henry and its history in the twenty-first century. Three appendixes treat exhibits since the 1950s; foodways; and General Daniel Webb’s surrender letter of August 17, 1757.

Paper: $24.95 | E-book: $19.99
ISBN-13: 9781611685473
Pages: 144 | Size: 7 in. x 10 in.
Date Published: June 3, 2014


  • Starbuck’s work would serve well in an introductory historical archaeology class, and fulfill several roles. Its narrative on the process of archaeology would be a useful instructional tool, particularly for working within tourist-oriented sites (indeed, it invites comparison with Colonial Williamsburg, St. Mary’s City, and the like). Starbuck’s ability to show connections between the fort and the surrounding countryside make it also quite pertinent for the New York region. Finally, as it focuses on a major conflict, it would be work well for a class in need of a conflict-oriented reading.

    Historical Archaeolgy
  • The Legacy of Fort William Henry introduces . . . the remains of "Burial 14," which suggests a remarkable tale to rival James Fennimore Cooper’s imagination and, perhaps, reshape public memory of the fort’s meaning. . . . By framing this new story of Burial 14 within scholarship that emphasizes the broader context of the Seven Years’ War, we can see Fort William Henry as a place that embodied the powerful forces of colonialism that were remaking a continent and pulling an extraordinarily diverse group of people from across America and the Atlantic Ocean to meet at one fateful spot.

    New York History

About the Author

David R. Starbuck

David R. Starbuck was a historical and industrial archeologist specializing in America’s forts and battlefields, utopian societies (such as the Shakers), and medieval and post-medieval sites in Scotland. Dr. Starbuck authored or edited nearly 20 books; published more than 130 journal articles, book chapters, and book reviews; and presented well over 500 papers and talks at local, regional, and national conferences and meetings. He was president of the Adirondack Chapter of the New York …

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