Timothy Murphy, Hero of the Revolution

Excerpts from a speech given by Chris Millis, President of the Saratoga division of the Ancient Order of Hibernians... (accompanying pictures show the monument to Timothy Murphy at The Battlefield in Saratoga National Park.)

Why do we honor Timothy Murphy? Well, Tim Murphy was a very good shot.

 On the morning of October 7, 1777 - 225 years ago - the 26-year-old Murphy, a son of Irish immigrants from County Donegal, was engaged in the second battle at Saratoga as one of the 500 rifleman of General Daniel Morgan's famed corp of Kentucky Rifleman.

As the British Army, under the command of General John Burgoyne, attempted to out-flank the American positions on Bemis Heights, Timothy Murphy climbed a tree and took aim with his Swiss, double-barreled Golcher rifle.

Murphy's fatal shot, said to have been from roughly 300 yards, mortally wounded General Simon Fraser. Fraser was leading a recon in force against the colonists. As a result of his death, the recon failed and ultimately led to the British defeat. The next day General Fraser succumbed to his wounds.

Murphy then set his sights on General Burgoyne's Aide-de-Camp., Sir Frances Clarke. Clarke had galloped onto the field with Burgoyne's order to retreat. Murphy fired at Sir Clarke twice, the second shot killing the British officer before he fell from his stirrups.

Murphy Monument The death of these eminent officers threw the British ranks into utter chaos. The British lines withdrew in bitter defeat.

Murphy's fatal shots directly resulted in Burgoyne's demoralizing surrender of his entire army, an event unheard of in the annals of British military history.

The victory at Saratoga gave the inspired, but tattered, Continental Army something it had sorely lacked through the campaigns of 1775 & 1776 -- hope. But more importantly, the victory at Saratoga brought France into the war as a powerful ally to the American revolutionaries, supplying much needed money, equipment and manpower. The victory, and the news of French alliance, also encouraged many Americans to finally join the far-from-certain military campaign to win independence. After Saratoga thousands of beleaguered colonists began to think, "Hey, we can win this thing."

The Battle of Saratoga has been hailed by many as one of the most important battles in military history. Not least of which the New York Times Magazine, which proclaimed the victory at Saratoga, "The Most Important Battle of the Last 1,000 Years." - Chris Millis


A little more detailed account of Timothy Murphy's many accomplishments was compiled by AmericanRevolution.org.

There is also an extensive biography presented by the NY State Division of Military and Naval Affairs.

In the early 1960's Ray Charles was commissioned to write "The Continental Soldier Suite." This work was a tribute to those great and small who contributed to the battles for American freedom during the 1770's. Along with the famous, such as George Washington came the relatively unknown Timothy Murphy. A tour by the Texas Boy's Choir in anticipation of the Bi-centenial celebration included the musical tribute to Murphy.

If you are interested in finding the story of the battles that led to Tim Murphy's heroism try exerpts from a "Household Reference for All Readers".

Many more pictures from the celebration of the 225th anniversary of the Battle of Saratoga can be found on our Photos Page. It is a slide show so please give it a minute to load.

In addition we had some nice press coverage from the local Albany Times Union. This undoubtedly helped to spread the word of Timothy Murphy's heroics.

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