FORT ANN -- Town historian Virginia Parrott says at least six bodies from the Revolutionary War era and beyond are buried near Route 4 in an area known as Battle Hill.
But the operators of a Mechanicville company, which is seeking to excavate rock from a 51.5-acre parcel located about 1.2 miles northeast of the village of Fort Ann, says its property is free of Revolutionary War remains.
The battle site is historically significant, Parrott says, because it is where Colonial troops delayed British Gen. John Burgoyne's advance to Saratoga, helping to ensure an American victory at the Battles of Saratoga in the fall of 1777.
"That whole hill is a battle site," Parrott said. "There was thousands of troops there. We're not talking about a little group of soldiers ... like Roger's Rangers that went out with 10 or 12 people. We're talking about Burgoyne's entire army."
But Anthony Grande, president of Troy Topsoil, pointed to an archaeologist report, commissioned by his company, that showed no historic remains on the parcel targeted for the quarry operation.
"The battlefield is south of me where there is an issue," Grande said on Thursday. "It's definitely south of there, probably 3,000 to 4,000 feet. I'm not exactly sure."
Troy Topsoil Co. Inc. applied in August 2009 for a mining permit to start a rock quarry operation on the parcel. The application was denied because it lacked a state Historic Preservation Office review, among other reasons, according to David Winchell, a spokesman for the state Department of Environmental Conservation.
But the company has submitted a new application that, if approved, would affect the Battle Hill site.
Parrott found out about the application on Dec. 27, the day it was received by the DEC.
She consulted with the DEC's Warrensburg office, where an official confirmed the permit would affect the Battle Hill site, Parrott said.
Parrott, who has served as Fort Ann town historian since 1975, said that, according to historic documents, the site contains human remains.
She said the mining operation should not disrupt what some describe as the most important historic site in Washington County.
"DEC, in my opinion, if they permit this, they are in violation of all state laws," Parrott said. "You cannot disturb a burial site."
Other archaeological studies have found no evidence of remains related to Native American culture or items that predate the World War II era on the site, according to findings submitted by Grande's firm for the revised application. Grande also said eight mines are already operating along Route 4.
The site is not listed on state or federal registers of historic places, according to Dan Keefe, a spokesman for the state Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation.
But, in 1927, the state and the town placed an informational plaque about the Battle of Fort Anne in a rock formation on Route 4 near the site.
Philip Perazio, a historic preservation project review specialist for the state, wrote in an e-mail that the location is an archaeologically sensitive area and that the Revolutionary War site of Battle Hill and several pre-contact Native American sites are in the immediate vicinity.
He also wrote that his office has no record of having been asked to comment on the quarry project.
Parrott said several documents support the site's historic authenticity. One is from Asa Fitch, a 19th century scientist born near Salem.
That document includes the exact coordinates where human remains are buried. One interview, contained in the book "Fort Ann: 300 Years of History" locates bodies east of Kane's Falls, about a quarter of a mile north of Route 4.
"We know of six. And there are probably a lot more," Parrott said, identifying the remains as Native Americans and British and Colonial soldiers.
If the DEC rules that the application is complete, residents will have an opportunity to comment on the project.
The project will also go before the town of Fort Ann's Planning Board. The state Department of Transportation is also involved because of a highway work permit required for a new access road at the site.