OTD: Digby described after the 1st Battle

#Onthisday in 1777, British Lieutenant William Digby of 53d Regiment of Foot described the time after the 1st Battle of Saratoga “Formed a bridge of boats across the Hudson, on the left flank of our line. A spy from the enemy was taken near our camp, and we had reason to suppose there were many others around. He informed that they had a report Gen Burgoyne was killed on the 19th, which must have arose from Capn Green, one of the aid de camps, being wounded and falling from his horse near the general. About noon there was a confused report of Gen Clinton’s coming up the river, and it must be owned Gen Burgoyne was too ready to believe any report in our favour. Orders were given for our cannon to fire 8 rounds at night from the park of Artillery. It was done with a view of causing the enemy to draw in their out posts expecting an attack, at which time 2 officers in disguise were sent express to Gen Clinton with messages to the same effect as was sent the 21st. The intention answered, as they stood to their works all that night which was constant rain.” To learn wish to learn more about the Battles of Saratoga, you can visit the Saratoga National Historical Park in the towns of Saratoga and Stillwater. The park website is at https://ift.tt/2cxkI82 The Schuylerville Public Library schuylervillelibrary.sals.edu/ and all the libraries in the region have a number of books on the Battles of Saratoga. One of the more popular and well written books is Richard M Ketchum’s Saratoga: Turning Point of America’s Revolutionary War. (1997) New York: Henry Holt. ISBN 978-0-8050-6123-9. OCLC 41397623 Saratoga is known for being the turning point of the American Revolution. In 1777 −− the second year of America’s War for Independence −− the British sought to quell the rebellion with a single decisive military campaign. The British plan depended on using an invading army to divide the colonies along a natural corridor of rivers and lakes stretching from Canada to New York City. The Americans’ determined resistance at Saratoga, coupled with British strategic blunders, resulted in a stunning defeat and surrender for a British army. This timely victory reversed American military fortunes, boosted patriot morale, and gained them international recognition and support, including military assistance. That is why studying the Battles of Saratoga is integral to a good understanding of the American freedoms.
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OTD: Arnold wrote Gates

#Onthisday General Benedict Arnold wrote to General Horatio Gates Camp at Stillwater, September 22, 1777 Sir When I joined the Army at Vanschaak’s Island the 1st instant you were pleased to order me to London’s Ferry to take the command of General Poor and Learned’s Brigades and Colonel Morgan battalion of riflemen and light infantry. Your command was immediately obeyed. I have repeatedly since received your orders respecting those corps as belonging to my division, which has often been mentioned in General Orders, and the gentlemen commanding those corps have understood themselves as my division. On the 9th instant, you desired me to annex the New York and Connecticut Militia to such brigades as I thought proper in my division, which I accordingly did and ordered the New York Militia to join General Poor’s brigade and the Connecticut Militia to General Learned’s. The next day, I was surprised to observe in General Orders the New York Militia annexed to General Glover’s brigade, which placed me in the ridiculous light of presuming to give orders I had no right to do, and having them publicly contradicted, which I mentioned to you as I thought it a mistake of the Deputy Adjutant General. You then observed the mistake your own and that it should be mentioned as such in the ensuing orders, which has never been done. On the 19th instant, when advice was received that the enemy was approaching, I took the liberty to give it as my opinion that we ought to march out and attack them. You desired me to send Colonel Morgan and the light infantry and support them. I obeyed your orders and before the action was over I found it necessary to send out the whole of my division to support the attack. No other troops were engaged that day except Colonel Marshall’s regiment of General Paterson’s brigade I have been informed that in the returns transmitted to Congress of the killed and wounded in the action the troops were mentioned as a detachment from the Army and in the orders of this day I observe it is mentioned that Colonel Morgan’s corps not being in any brigade or division of this Army are to make returns and reports only to headquarters, from whence they are alone to receive orders. Although it is notorious to the whole Army they have been in and done duty with my division for some time past. When I mentioned these matters to you this day, you were pleased to say in contradiction to your repeated orders that you did not know that I was Major General or had any command in the Army. I have ever supposed a major general’s command of four thousand men a proper division and no detachment, when composed of whole brigades forming one wing of the Army and that general troops if guilty of misconduct or cowardly behavior in time of action were justly chargeable as a division. If on the other hand, they behave with spirit and firmness in action they were justly initiated to the applause due to a brave division, not detachment, of the Army. Had my division behaved ill, the other divisions of the Army would have thought it extremely hard to have been amenable for their conduct. I mentioned these matters as I wish justice due to the division, as well as particular regiments or persons. From what reasons I know not, as I am conscious of no offense or neglect of duty, but I have lately observed little attention paid to any proposals I have thought it my duty to make for the public service and when a measure I have proposed has been agreed to it has immediately been contradicted. I have been received with the greatest coolness at headquarters and often treated in such a manner as must mortify a person with less pride than I have and in my station in the army. You observed that you expected General Lincoln in a day or two when I should have no command of a division, that you thought me of little consequence to the Army and that you would with all your heart give me a pass to leave it whenever I thought proper. As I find your observation very just that I am not or that you wish me of little consequence in the army and as I have the interest and safety of my country at heart, I wish to be where I can be of the most sevice to them. I therefore, as General Lincoln has arrived, request your pass to Philadelphia with my aid de camp and three servants, where I propose to join General Washington and may possibly have it in my power to serve my country, though I am thought of no consequence in this department. I am &c. B. Arnold Benedict Arnold was born in 1741 to a prominent Connecticut family. Arnold lost most of his siblings to yellow fever, calamitous events that triggered alcoholism in his father. As a teenager, Arnold’s family faced financial hardship. At the age of sixteen, Arnold enlisted in a militia and served in the French and Indian War in upstate New York. During the 1760s, Arnold started a successful apothecary business. Arnold’s role as a prominent businessman brought him into direct conflict with both the Stamp Act and the Sugar Act, where the British government sought to regulate and tax colonial business transactions. Arnold joined the Sons of Liberty and continued his business in defiance of the British acts, effectively becoming a smuggler. He was elected to the position of captain in the Connecticut militia in 1775. The first act that would make Arnold well known was his participation, along with Ethan Allen, in the capture of Fort Ticonderoga just to the north of Saratoga on Lake Champlain. Fort Ticonderoga had an immense store of cannon which were critical to win the Siege the Boston. In September 1775 Arnold participated in the American invasion of Canada, per orders of Gen. Washington. Though the attempt at adding a “Fourteenth Colony” failed with a desperate attack on Quebec, Arnold was considered by most to have served valiantly as a brilliant tactician and hero after being wounded in the leg during battle. For this he was promoted to brigadier general. In the summer of 1776 Arnold’s skills as a strategist were once again called upon as he was placed in charge of a new American Naval Fleet in Lake Champlain. His orders from Gen. Horatio Gates were to defend the area and attack only if attacked. Upon learning of a British naval force under Guy Carleton settling in the northern end of the lake, Arnold took his fleet and stationed it towards Valcour Island in October. Several days of battle ensued. Arnold was not able to do much damage to the veteran British fleet. He only saved many of his men after grounding and burning their ships. Yet, in Gates’ eyes, he had disobeyed orders by conducting an offensive maneuver. Now at odds with not only his superiors, but with Congress over promotions he did not receive, 1777 became Arnold’s year to prove himself. The first chance came in August, when General Philip Schuyler ordered him to march west from Albany to prevent a force under British commander Barry St. Leger from over-whelming the beleaguered troops at Fort Schuyler (Stanwix). Arnold was able to turn St. Leger’s superior force against him by blackmailing a loyalist man into spreading rumors amongst the Indians about his coming. St. Leger’s allies retreated leaving him with no support; he ordered the retreat of his Regular force before Arnold ever arrived on August 21. As Arnold returned to Albany the Northern Army, now under command of General Gates, was bearing down for a defensive against British General John Burgoyne to the north near Saratoga, NY. After the battle at Freeman’s Farm and an argument with Gates about whether or not to attack the shaken British force, Arnold was relieved of command. On October 7, Burgoyne struck again closer to the American lines. Seeing the enemy entrenched, Arnold rode to the field of battle to lead an American attack that captured an enemy stronghold all against Gates’ orders. This victory however, led the Americans to gain the position they needed on the field to force a British surrender. Arnold was wounded in the same leg that suffered injury in Canada. Scorned by Gates, but officially thanked by Washington and Congress, he was promoted to Major General and sent to Philadelphia to recover, as he could not command the field. Arnold, though well respected as a battlefield general, was not often well like by his subordinates or fellow officers. He constantly argued with these men about the slightest things. These men, in turn, accused Arnold of many improprieties including theft. Arnold was eventually put under arrest for arguing with members of a court who refused to hear a witness against Colonel Moses Hazen, who Arnold had accused of theft. Arnold was given command of the city of Philadelphia. Charges of misconduct again surfaced while he commanded Philadelphia not the least of which was his marriage to a known Loyalist, Peggy Shippen. A combination of debt and his disgust with his perceived American enemies eventually moved Arnold to join the British cause. Arnold wanted a post from which he could do the most service to the British cause. Arnold, requested, and received, command of the American post at West Point. Arnold’s plan to hand over West Point to the British failed but Arnold escaped to New York. Arnold was made a brigadier general in the British army. In December 1780, Arnold was given command of British forces sent to raid Virginia. Arnold remained there until July 1781 and then returned to New York. Arnold eventually moved to England where he became a merchant. His ventures met with mixed success. Arnold died in London at the age of 60. Arnold’s name has become synonymous with treasonous behavior and is perhaps one of the most infamous figures in American history. It has been said that had Benedict Arnold died at the Battles of Saratoga, he would have been considered as one of America’s greatest heroes. Instead, he died in England in June of 1801 as General Washington’s most brilliant tactician and America’s worst betrayer. To learn wish to learn more about the Battles of Saratoga, you can visit the Saratoga National Historical Park in the towns of Saratoga and Stillwater. The park website is at https://ift.tt/2cxkI82 The Schuylerville Public Library schuylervillelibrary.sals.edu/ and all the libraries in the region have a number of books on the Battles of Saratoga. One of the more popular and well written books is Nathaniel Philbrick’s Valiant Ambition: George Washington, Benedict Arnold, And The Fate Of The American Revolution. (2016) New York: Viking. ISBN 0525426787 Saratoga is known for being the turning point of the American Revolution. In 1777 −− the second year of America’s War for Independence −− the British sought to quell the rebellion with a single decisive military campaign. The British plan depended on using an invading army to divide the colonies along a natural corridor of rivers and lakes stretching from Canada to New York City. The Americans’ determined resistance at Saratoga, coupled with British strategic blunders, resulted in a stunning defeat and surrender for a British army. This timely victory reversed American military fortunes, boosted patriot morale, and gained them international recognition and support, including military assistance. That is why studying the Battles of Saratoga is integral to a good understanding of the American freedoms.

Anson Piper at the British Motorfest

This photo is of reenactor Anson Piper from Fort Edward.  He is portraying an American artillery officer.  Piper was a very active volunteer at Saratoga National Historical Park.  Piper is a veteran of World War II and at the time of the photo he was 76 years young. This photo is from a gathering called the British Motorfest, the area’s premiere British Car show and the Schuylerville Family Fun day was held at Fort Hardy Park on 17 July 2004. The Adirondack Triumph Association presented the British Motorfest, the area’s premiere British car show in 2004. Approximately 100 Triumphs, MGs, Austin Healeys, Jaguars, Morgans, motorcycles and kit cars invaded the area with gleaming fenders and questionable electrical systems vying for trophies, dash plaques and probably a jump-start or two  The event organized by the Schuylerville Area Chamber of Commerce, the fun continued through the afternoon and into the evening with British Revolutionary War re-enactors (replete with occasional musket firings — remember, Fort Hardy Park is the actual spot where Burgoyne surrendered), French and Indian War re-enactors, a chicken barbecue, a performance by the Cambridge Band, free hamburgers and a theater performance of Greek fairy tales by The Mettawee Players.  There was a nice article in the Saratogian accessed here – https://ift.tt/2xyxexY These are the town historian’s archives of 2004 made by Town Historian Sean Kelleher.  The town historian is to “upheld high standards of gathering and evaluating evidence, making thoughtful and appropriate generalizations, writing well-organized and readable narratives, and sharing their work with others through the most appropriate mediums.” The Fort Hardy area is recognized as one of the most important locations in the history of our country.  This site was the site of a French and Indian War fort / supply depot. During the Battles of Saratoga, the turning point of the American Revolution, the remains of the Fort was on the front lines during the siege (October 10 – 17) and the location of a skirmish (October 11). On October 17, the British and their allies marched to the Fort and grounded (stacked) their arms and marched into captivity. This was the first time in world history that a complete British force surrendered and it brought international recognition and allies to the United States. The Fort grounds is truly one of that locations that changed world history. These fort grounds located on the banks of the Hudson River have evolved to serve the educational, cultural and recreational needs of the community.  The various roles it held was a driving park (1902) , camp and parade ground for the 10th US Cavalry – Buffalo Soldiers (1912), grand and band stands to watch races and baseball games (1920s), bathing beach (1934), youth center (1990s), a historic pageant (2002) and as a boating launch.  Fort Hardy serves our community in a variety of ways including as a community gathering place, a place of remembrance of our American ideals and way of life, which was secured by the American War of Independence and the Victory at Saratoga.

OTD: Varick wrote Schuyler

#Onthisday Lt. Colonel Richard Varick wrote to Major General Schuyler.
September 22, 1777
Dear Sir
Gates seemed to be piqued that Arnold’s division had the honor of beating the enemy on the 19th.
This I am certain of: Arnold has all the credit of the action; and this I further know, that Gates asked where the troops were going when Scammell’s battalion marched out, and upon being told, he declared no more troops should go; he would not suffer the camp to be exposed.
Had Gates complied with Arnold’s repeated desires, he would have obtained a general and complete victory over the enemy.
But it is evident to me he never intended to fight Burgoyne until Arnold urged, begged and entreated him to do it.
I am &c.
Richard Varick
Richard Varick was from a prominent Dutch-American family in Hackensack, New Jersey, Richard Varick became a lawyer, and enlisted in the New York City militia. In June 1775, Varick was appointed military secretary to General Philip Schuyler, from September 1776, he served as Deputy Commissary General of Musters for the Northern army, and on April 10, 1777, he was promoted to the rank of lieutenant-colonel. Varick served with distinction as aide to generals Philip Schuyler and Benedict Arnold. He would become the recording secretary for George Washington and was responsible for organizing the 44 volumes of wartime papers.
In peacetime Varick served as the Speaker of the Assembly (1787-1788) and was appointed Attorney General of the State of New York (1788-1889). He helped initiate the new Federalist-oriented government of New York City, becoming its mayor from 1789–1801. During this time, he oversaw the City’s rapid growth, dealt with public health epidemics, and instituted penal reforms and relief for the poor.
Next, he turned his energies to the accumulation of lucrative real estate, all the while furthering the development of Columbia University and the Society of the Cincinnati, and starting the entity that became Jersey City. His personal passion was to help promulgate the Christian message, especially through the founding of the American Bible Society and the New York Sunday School Union.
To learn wish to learn more about the Battles of Saratoga, you can visit the Saratoga National Historical Park in the towns of Saratoga and Stillwater. The park website is at https://ift.tt/2cxkI82
The Schuylerville Public Library schuylervillelibrary.sals.edu/ and all the libraries in the region have a number of books on the Battles of Saratoga. One of the more popular and well written books is Richard M Ketchum’s Saratoga: Turning Point of America’s Revolutionary War. (1997) New York: Henry Holt. ISBN 978-0-8050-6123-9. OCLC 41397623
Saratoga is known for being the turning point of the American Revolution. In 1777 −− the second year of America’s War for Independence −− the British sought to quell the rebellion with a single decisive military campaign. The British plan depended on using an invading army to divide the colonies along a natural corridor of rivers and lakes stretching from Canada to New York City. The Americans’ determined resistance at Saratoga, coupled with British strategic blunders, resulted in a stunning defeat and surrender for a British army. This timely victory reversed American military fortunes, boosted patriot morale, and gained them international recognition and support, including military assistance. That is why studying the Battles of Saratoga is integral to a good understanding of the American freedoms.

On this day – September 22

On this day in 1776, the British executed Captain Nathan Hale for espionage, creating America’s first widely acclaimed martyr and in a letter to his brother, Washington wrote: “The Dependence which the Congress had placed upon the Militia, has already greatly injured, and I fear will totally ruin our Cause;” in 1777, Lieutenant-colonel Richard Varick wrote to Major General Schuyler, “Gates seemed to be piqued that Arnold’s division had the honor of beating the enemy on the 19th; This I am certain of: Arnold has all the credit of the action…Benedict Arnold wrote to Horatio Gates, “ridiculous light of presuming to give orders I had no right to do and having them publicly contradicted.” and in 2001, the Saratoga County Veterans Monument dedication is conducted at the Saratoga National Cemetery with thousands of guests attending; the program includes talks by Bishop Howard Hubbard, New York State Lieutenant Governor Mary Donohue, Congressman John Sweeney, and Town of Saratoga Supervisor Bob Hall, Schuylerville Central School Band plays music for the event and Annina Rabbit sings the National Anthem and America The Beautiful.

On this day is a chronological timetable of events that occurred on this day in history around the Town of Saratoga. Discover what happened today in local history by subscribing to our blog at https://historianatsaratoga.wordpress.com/

(Thank you to Deputy Historian Patricia Peck and Town Supervisor Thomas Wood for compiling information for this timetable.)

September 22

Saratoga Monument

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The Saratoga Monument is situated on a high bluff, 250 feet above the Hudson River overlooking the surrounding villages, farms, and countryside. From its top may be seen Lake George to the north, the Green Mountains to the east, and the Catskills to the south.

The Saratoga Monument Association (SMA) was incorporated in 1859 to plan the monument’s construction. The SMA chose the site, because the bluff provided views of the villages of Schuylerville and Victory and the surrounding countryside. The SMA also recognized that the land was part of General Burgoyne’s final encampment and defenses prior to his surrender. The site was adjacent to a newly designed memorial landscape, Prospect Hill Cemetery. The monument’s cornerstone was laid in 1877 during centennial celebrations of the Saratoga battles, and Burgoyne Street was improved as an avenue to better connect the villages with the monument site and the cemetery. The capstone was set in place in 1882, and the formal landscape design was installed in 1897 including a system of gravel footpaths and a carriage road. The ground was seeded with timothy, clover and rye seeds, and an allee of elm trees enclosed the carriage path. Cannons were placed on the grounds beginning in the 1880s. The site’s formal landscape and that of the neighboring cemetery enhanced the monument’s impact and meaning. The landscape provided carriage and strolling paths, open lawn, and large trees that provided visitors with many different views and experiences of the monument.

The Saratoga Monument is by far the most significant and conspicuous location within the Town of Saratoga. A 155-foot obelisk erected to memorialize the campaign that culminated in British capitulation, the monument is located on a parcel of Saratoga National Historical Park in the village of Victory that was chosen largely because of its commanding view.

The Saratoga Monument is opened most weekends in the summer and limited times in the fall. For details on Monument please visit http://www.nps.gov/sara or call 518 670-2985.

From the NPS – “Monument: now open Sat-Sun from 9:30am – 5pm; last climb is at 4:45pm.”

 

OTD: Burgoyne receives a message from NYC

Onthisday in 1777, British General Burgoyne at Saratoga received from British General Sir Henry Clinton the following letter.
Dear Sir
You know my good will and are not ignorant of my poverty of troops. If you think 2000 men can assist you effectively, I will make a push at Fort Montgomery (just south of West Point) in about ten days. But ever jealous of my flanks if they make a move in force on either of them I must return to save this important post. I expect reinforcements every day. Let me know what you wish.
I am &c.
Sir Henry Clinton
From the beginning of the American War of Impendence, the British had understood the importance of gaining control of the Richelieu River – Lake Champlain-Lake George-Hudson River water route to effectively cut off the colonies north of New York from those to the south. Almost all the troubles leading to the war had originated from New England, and the British thought that if they could put down the rebellion there, the rest of the colonies would give up. British dominance of this traditional pathway of war would also make it difficult or impossible for the Americans to move troops and supplies between the northern and southern colonies.
The British make their first attempt to seize this waterway in 1776. The British army, under Gen. Sir William Howe, was successful in taking New York City and some of the lower Hudson Valley area. The force moving south from Canada under Gen. Sir Guy Carleton was stalled by Benedict Arnold on Lake Champlain however, and forced to retreat due to the coming of winter.
In 1777, General John Burgoyne proposed the plan be tried again, submitting “Thoughts for Conducting the War on the Side of Canada,” this time with himself in command. This paper was his attempt to strengthen the existing New York strategy and was soon approved by Lord Germain (Secretary of State for America). This plan called for Burgoyne to advance south from Canada, up to Lake Champlain, capture Ft. Ticonderoga, and then march south along the Hudson to Albany. In Albany, Burgoyne would form a junction with British General Sir William Howe, who would advance north along the Hudson River from New York City, already under British control. British Colonel Barry St. Leger would come as a third force, advancing west along the Mohawk River Valley. St. Leger’s Force was to act as a diversion, recruiting loyalists along the way and additionally securing a western water route between Canada and New York City.
Howe, however, became engaged in a campaign to capture Philadelphia (a plan Lord Germain had also approved believing that American General Washington may become a hindrance to New York, and that Howe would be done in time to reach Burgoyne) and would never reach Albany.
(This letter shows an attempt by Sir Henry Clinton in New York to help Burgoyne).
St. Leger became entangled in a futile 21-day siege of Fort Stanwix and was forced to retreat to Canada as American forces from the Albany area began to advance upon him. Burgoyne, however, was never informed in a timely manner of his colleagues’ setbacks and continued his march to Albany.
To learn wish to learn more about the Battles of Saratoga, you can visit the Saratoga National Historical Park in the towns of Saratoga and Stillwater. The park website is at https://ift.tt/2cxkI82
The Schuylerville Public Library schuylervillelibrary.sals.edu/ and all the libraries in the region have a number of books on the Battles of Saratoga. One of the more popular and well written books is Richard M Ketchum’s Saratoga: Turning Point of America’s Revolutionary War. (1997) New York: Henry Holt. ISBN 978-0-8050-6123-9. OCLC 41397623 Saratoga is known for being the turning point of the American Revolution.
In 1777 −− the second year of America’s War for Independence −− the British sought to quell the rebellion with a single decisive military campaign. The British plan depended on using an invading army to divide the colonies along a natural corridor of rivers and lakes stretching from Canada to New York City. The Americans’ determined resistance at Saratoga, coupled with British strategic blunders, resulted in a stunning defeat and surrender for a British army. This timely victory reversed American military fortunes, boosted patriot morale, and gained them international recognition and support, including military assistance. That is why studying the Battles of Saratoga is integral to a good understanding of the American freedoms.