Saratoga Monument

The Saratoga Monument stands prominently within the British camp where the decision to surrender was made in October 1777.
The site symbolizes the decisive turn in the American struggle for independence and serves as an eternal reminder of the human cost of both the American victory and the British defeat. The area was formerly known as the Heights of Saratoga. This lofty plot encompassed a portion of the area of Lt. General Burgoyne’s fortified camp in the final, beleaguered days of his campaign that ended with his surrender on October 17, 1777.
Burgoyne tried to retreat northward, but this position was so advantageous and well constructed with earthworks that he was reluctant to leave it. The land was cleared of trees and sloped toward Fish Creek giving the British a clear shot to the land along the Hudson. The land may have been agricultural before the campaign.
Nearly 17,000 American troops surrounded the fortified camp of the exhausted British Army. By the terms of the Convention of Saratoga, Burgoyne’s depleted army, some 6,000 men, marched out of its camp “with the Honors of War” and laid down its weapons along the west bank of the Hudson River across Fish Creek from the Schuyler House.
The 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 is by far the most significant and conspicuous location within the Town of Saratoga.
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 weekends in the summer and limited times in the fall.
For details on Monument please visit or call 518 670-2985.

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
The Schuylerville Public Library 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.

OTD: Alexander Scammell wrote describing the battle

#Onthisday in 1777, Alexander Scammell wrote his brother describing the battle of 19 September 1777:
The 19th inst. we had a very hot Engagement with his whole Army [Burgoyne’s] except about 2000 Foreigners Deserters inform – Their light Camp under Gen’l Frazer appeared about 1 o’clock, our Riflemen & light infantry attacked them and drove them about a mile with considerable [loss?]…
I was formed in the line of Battle which was then exceeding hot at 3 o’clock P.M. where, with the above mentioned Troops about 1,500 we sustained the hottest Fire of Cannon and Musquetry that I ever heard in my Life two hours nearly against Gen’l Burgoyne in person when Gen. Poor with the remainder of our Brigade came to our assistance when almost surrounded by the enemy…
I believe it was the severest Battle ever fought in America…
A ball passed through the breech of my Gun and another through my overalls and just scraped my legg whilst my Serg’t Major had both Cords of his Ham cut off with a Ball at my side…
The Enemy’s loss must have been very great by sustaining an American Fire for at least 4 Hours. The ground…was thickly scattered with their dead Bodies, and I nothing doubt at the lowest compilation we killed took and wounded 1,500 of the enemy.
Scammell commanded the 3rd New Hampshire Regiment at Saratoga, and distinguished himself bravely in the battles of Freeman’s Farm and Bemis Heights, and was possibly wounded in the latter battle
(In letters to his brother he did not indicate being wounded and that bullets had passed through his clothing and hit the breech of his weapon).
Saratoga has been defined by the people who by choice or by chance participated in the Battles. It is the determination of our forefathers, including Alexander Scammell in surmounting overwhelming odds that help define the American spirit – the will and ability to shape a better future. It is the people it is that define this community by choice or by chance have changed this country and even the world political development. That is why studying the people of Saratoga is helpful in the understanding of the condition of being human.

On this day – September 21

On this day of 1776, Benedict Arnold wrote to Horatio Gates from Lake Champlain, “We are as well prepared for the enemy as our circumstances will allow, they will never have it in their power to surprise us, the men are daily trained in the exercise of their guns, if powder was plenty, I would wish to have them fire at a mark with their great guns often, at present, we cannot afford it;” in 1782, William Lord Stirling Alexander wrote to George Washington, “…I have lately found that westward of Shenectady and up the Mowhawk River there were 26 Posts occupied by our Troops, a list of which is herewith—some with 5, 12, 20 Men and so on, in short they were in such a position that on any sudden attack of the Enemy they could neither join nor defend themselves.I have now reduced the whole to six Posts to wit forts Herkemer, Ranselaer, Dayton Schoharie Johnstown & Hunter, the four first will be possess’d by the State Troops and Levies the 2d New Hampshire Regt will be at Johnstown where there are excellent and roomy quarters, they will have a Sergeants Guard at Fort Hunter and a Scout towards Sacondago—they will have nothing to do but attend to these disciplines, the first regiment (except the Light Infantry Company at this place) will be compleat at Saratoga, as they have a Company of State Troops to do detach’d duties and scouting; the whole shall be kept in order to move on the shortest notice;” and in 1879, a fire broke out at Henry Shaw’s house, located between Victory Mills and Quaker Springs, the family was out for a short ride, the neighbors noticed the fire and extinguished it with a basin of water, according to the Saratoga Sentinel, it was obvious source for the fire and the “only conjecture was that perhaps rats or mice had caused the fire with matches… ignated by gnawing.
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
September 21

Treason of Major General Benedict Arnold

On this day in 1936, the US Works Progress Administration in Boston disclosed a letter from the 2nd Massachusetts Regiment’s Major Hugh Maxwell describing to his wife the treason of Major General Benedict Arnold. The letter describes how when the plot was discovered, Arnold “returned immediately to his wife, told her his plot was discovered and that he must bid farewell to her and America forever.” The letter as in the possession of Mary Maxwell of Health, MA who is a descendent of the H. Maxwell. Hugh Maxwell was an American surveyor and farmer from Charlemont, Massachusetts. Maxwell served at Saratoga during the Battles under the command of General Arnold. Maxwell was born in Ireland in 1733, he migrated with his family to the Massachusetts Bay Colony and settled in town of Bedford, about 15 miles from Boston. In 1760, when he was 27 years old, Hugh married Bridget Munroe of Bedford. By 1772, the couple would have six children. As a young man, Maxwell fought in several campaigns during the French and Indian War, including the capture of Fort William Henry by the French in 1757. It is during this battle that he became involved with hand to hand combat with a French allied Indian at Half Way Brook up in Queensbury. Wartime recruitment bonuses and good pay were attractive incentives for young men like Maxwell who needed money to buy their own land or to get started in business. Perhaps the money he received for his militia service helped Maxwell to buy land in northwestern Massachusetts, in the town of Charlemont. Hugh, and his family made the 100-mile journey from Bedford in the fall of 1772. Like most of his Charlemont neighbors, Hugh Maxwell was not well-to-do, but he quickly gained their respect. He could offer first-hand accounts of the turbulent politics and protests in Boston and other eastern towns. His experiences in Bedford had evidently turned Maxwell into a strong Whig, or Patriot. It was written that he subscribed to newspapers and pamphlets. His neighbors would gather at his farm house to discuss the issues of the day. He was among the thousands of men who organized themselves into “Minute Companies” on the eve of the American Revolution. In April 1775, Lieutenant Hugh Maxwell marched to Cambridge with his Charlemont militia company. Maxwell remained at Cambridge, where he joined Colonel William Prescott’s regiment. In June 1775, Maxwell fought and was wounded at the battle of Bunker Hill. This is when it is believed that he meet Dr. Hart. Dr. Hart and Maxwell would serve throughout the rest of the war together. In November, 1776, Captain Hugh Maxwell was ordered to raise a company of 86 “able-bodied and effective Men” to serve in the Continental Army “’til the End of the present War or for the Term of three Years.” In addition to the siege of Boston, he was present at the battles of Trenton, Princeton, Saratoga, and Monmouth. By the end of the war, he was Lieutenant Colonel of the Third Massachusetts Regiment of Major General William Heath’s brigade. There is much more to read about Maxwell here – 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.