OTD: Baroness remembers the surrender


#Onthisday in 1777, Baroness Frederika von Riedesel described the conditions during the Siege in Saratoga:

On the 17th of October the capitulation was consummated. The generals waited upon the American general-in-chief, Gates, and the troops laid down their arms, and surrendered themselves prisoners of war. Now the good woman, who had brought us water at the risk of her life, received the reward of her services. Every one threw a whole handful of money into her apron, and she received altogether over twenty guineas. At such a moment, the heart seems to be especially susceptible to feelings of gratitude”

The diary or journal of the German Baroness von Riedesel offers a vivid picture of British General John Burgoyne and the British army’s march from Canada to surrender at Saratoga. It also details the Baroness’ subsequent journey through America. Her journal is the famous narrative by a woman from the entire war (and one of the most famous from the Northern Campaign of 1777). Because she was traveling with her husband, a Brunswick General in Burgoyne’s army, the Baroness was subject to his fate. After the British surrender at Saratoga, the Baroness, her husband, their three children and almost 6,000 captured British and Hessian soldiers were marched to Boston. There the Baroness and her family were detained in comfortable surroundings for more than a year. During their stay in New York, the Baroness gave birth to a daughter, who was named America.

When you are dealing with such rich historical series of events like the Battles of Saratoga, there may be some questions that pop up as you learn more about this fascinating junction in our nation’s history. You can visit the Saratoga National Historical Park in the towns of Saratoga and Stillwater. The park website is at http://ift.tt/2cxkI82

The Schuylerville Public Library http://ift.tt/2dYYY7C 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

The Saratoga Campaign in 1777 was an attempt by the British to gain military control of the strategically important Hudson River valley during the American Revolutionary War. It ended in the surrender of a complete British army. In 1877, Governor Horatio Seymour said, “At the break of day one hundred years ago, in the judgment of the world, our fathers were rebels against established authority. When the echoes of the evening gun died away along this valley, they were patriots who had rescued their country from wrong and outrage. Until the surrender of the British army in this valley, no nation would recognize the agents of the Continental Congress. All intercourse with them was in stealthy ways. But they were met with open congratulations when the monarchs of Europe learned that the royal standards of Britain had been lowered to our flag. We had passed through the baptism of blood, and had gained a name among the nations of the earth.

Saratoga is known for being the turning point of the American Revolution. 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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