Horseheads is a town in Chemung County, New York, United States. The population was 19,485 at the 2010 census. The name of the town is derived from the number of bleached horses’ skulls once found there. Horseheads is north of the city of Elmira, upon which it borders. There is a village named Horseheads within the town. It is part of the Elmira Metropolitan Statistical Area. On September 1 1779, General George Washington ordered the forces of General John Sullivan to march north on a 450-mile (720 km) journey through a wooded wilderness from Easton, Pennsylvania, over to Wyoming, Pennsylvania, and on up the Susquehanna River to Newtown (Elmira) to mount a raid on Iroquois.
They continued north through what is now known as Horseheads to the Finger Lakes region and west to Geneseo. Devastating the already weakened Iroquois, Sullivan’s troops retreated back along the same route. The journey had been particularly severe and wearing upon the animals, and their food supply was found insufficient. Arriving about 6 miles (10 km) north of Fort Reid on September 24, 1779, they were obliged to dispose of a large number of sick and disabled horses. The number of horses was so great that they were quite noticeable, and the native Iroquois collected the skulls and arranged them in a line along the trail. From that time forward, that spot was referred to as the “valley of the horses’ heads” and is still known by the name given to it by the Iroquois.
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