Originally called the isle of St. Michael, Crab Island was seized in 1814 by the U.S. government for the purpose of building a makeshift hospital during the Battle of Plattsburgh. Soldiers in the hospital, however, were not to sit idle. Anyone who could walk was put to work firing canons at British ships from the shore.
Following the fierce battle in Cumberland Bay, Crab Island was bestowed the task of absorbing the dead. Both British and American, 149 in all, were buried in a mass grave on the island. Left unmarked, the exact location of the fallen soldiers’ grave is not known today.Crab Island is a state park and maintained by dedicated volunteers. Visitors to the small island can expect to find a 100 foot iron flagstaff (circa 1903), a 50’ granite obelisk honoring the American soldiers killed in the battle (circa 1908), a small monument dedicated to the fallen British soldiers (circa 2012), and a generous amount of poison ivy. No artifacts are to be disturbed or taken from the island.