New Archaeological Technologies to Help Locate and Preserve Fort Bull



ROME, NY – Archaeologists from Binghamton University, State University of New York have started their search for the remains of the French and Indian War’s Fort Bull, an important British military outpost on Wood Creek.

Rome Historical Society (RHS) is working with Binghamton University’s Public Archaeology Facility (PAF) to locate and identify cultural features related to the British fortification. The research is a first step in the path to preservation for Fort Bull. In addition to the recent listing of Fort Wood Creek on the National Register of Historic Places, this current project will help to recognize the importance of the region during the French and Indian War and the Nation’s history. Brian Grills, PAF’s project director, said that Fort Bull is a significant part of the region’s pre-Revolutionary War history.

“As part of the Oneida Carry, Fort Bull was important to protecting the Mohawk Valley during the French and Indian War,” said Grills. “It was part of the British Army’s larger strategy to challenge French dominance of the Great Lakes region.”

Fort Bull was one of two British forts that secured the portage between the Mohawk River and Wood Creek. In 1756, French troops, supported by allied Native Americans, marched overland from Fort La Presentation (present day Ogdensburg) and attacked the British fort on the Oneida Carry. The French destroyed Fort Bull and killed or captured nearly 60 of the British garrison. The French victory deprived the British at Fort Oswego of vital supplies, ending British plans to attack the French-held Fort Niagara and leading to the French capture of Fort Oswego later that year.

Soon after the destruction of Fort Bull, the British returned and built Fort Wood Creek. Some say the new fort was built over the remains of Fort Bull, while others are convinced that traces of Fort Bull remain buried outside the footprint of Fort Wood Creek which is still visible today. PAF’s research will help answer the question about the location and what remains of Fort Bull.

The research is supported by a grant from the National Park Service’s American Battlefield Protection Program. Funds for this project will allow researchers to conduct a detailed historical and military terrain analysis of the Fort Bull Battlefield. Archaeologists will also use innovative remote sensing technology to identify possible features or remains related to the fort. The results of this research will support a more informed assessment of Fort Bull’s location and serve as the first step in developing a long-term preservation strategy. Achieving these goals will accomplish a critical step to placing the greater military landscape associated with the Fort on the path to preservation.

The results from this research will help RHS develop a preservation plan for Fort Bull. “As stewards of Fort Bull, we are excited to work with PAF and our partners to ensure the battlefield and its fortification are protected for future generations.” said Arthur L. Simmons III, Executive Director of RHS.
Archaeologists will conduct their documentary and field research throughout 2019. The Rome Historical Society and the Public Archaeology Facility will plan to present the results in a public presentation after completion of the research. To learn more about plans to preserve Fort Bull, contact the Rome Historical Society.