OTD: Ely wrote his family about the Battles

#Onthisday in 1777 Elihu Ely wrote to his family telling them about the Battles of Saratoga. His letter was kept by his family into it was presented to the National Park Service in 1967. 
The Saratogian reported the gift on 28 August 1967 
SCHUYLERVILLE – A letter written to his family by a soldier who participated in the Battles of Saratoga just prior to the Surrender of General Burgoyne to General Gates Oct. 17, 1777, is that of Elihu Ely to John Pratt Colchester, Conn, under date of Oct 16, 1777. This letter was recently presented to the National Park Service to be exhibited at Saratoga National Historical Park by Mrs William G. Geary, Tulsa, Okla., and Mr and Mrs. Richard Cass, Sumner, Iowa. The letter has been in the Pratt Family through the years and as Mrs. Cass wrote “was carried to School when the students came to the Battles of Saratoga in American History.” Mrs. Geary and Mrs.Cassi are sisters and they visited here in 1966. Mr. Ely, who participated in the second battle at Freeman’s Farm (2nd Battle of Saratoga) during the Revolution and assumed to be a member of the New England Militia wrote: “Loving Brother and Sister: These with my Love to you and ye Children may inform that through Divine goodness, I enjoy a Comfortable State of Health and hope that you Enjoy the Same Blessing. There has been a sessation of arms here. It took place the Day before yesterday and I understand that this Day Mr. Burgoin (Burgoyne) and his army are to resign themselves prisoners of war an be conducted through Albany and so on to Boston.” “The Tuesday before Last there was a smart Engagement Between the troops of General Gates and General Burgoin (Burgoyne) when the former came to Victorious and the Latter retreated about 8 miles to this Place as fast as their surcumstances would admit of our troops followed them and so surrounded their Camp that they were obliged to comply as above mentioned as is reported and Depended on in Camp tho the Particulars of the Capitulation on has not yet made Publick. I have no time to write about Subscribe myself Yr. Loving Brother, Elihu Ely.” 
The National Park has digitized this letter and has it on-line. http://ift.tt/2e8tF9w 
Elihu Ely served in the Battles as a member of Captain Jonathan Calkin’s Company, of Colonel Jonathan Latimer’s Regiment of Connecticut militia. 
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 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 recent books that mention Ely’s letter is Saratoga Campaign: Uncovering an Embattled Landscape. Edited by William A. Griswold & Donald W. Linebaugh. (2016) New Hampshire: University Press of New England. ISBN 2015027048 
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: The Baroness is under siege at Saratoga

#Onthisday in 1777 Baroness Frederika von Riedesel described the conditions during the Siege in Saratoga: 
“On the morning of the 16th of October, my husband was again obliged to go to his post, and I once more into my cellar. On this day, a large amount of fresh meat was distributed among the officers, who, up to this time, had received only salted provisions, which had exceedingly aggravated the wounds of the men. The good woman who constantly supplied us with water, made us capital soup from the fresh meat. I had lost all appetite, and had the whole time taken nothing but crusts of bread dipped in wine. ” 
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, ” the interests excited in our minds by this occasion, are not limited to a battle fought, or an army captured; they reach even beyond the fact that it was a turning point of the revolutionary struggle. We are led to a consideration of a chain of events and of enduring aspects of nature, which have shaped our civilization in the past, and which now and throughout the future, will influence the fortunes of our country. Burgoyne did not merely surrender here an army, he surrendered the control of a continent. Never in the world’s history, was there a transfer of a territory so vast, and of influences so far reaching, as that made a century ago where we now stand.” 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.

On this day

On this day in 1731, French engineers built Fort St-Frédéric at the southern end of Lake Champlain at Crown Point; in 1776, General Phillip Schuyler based in Saratoga wrote to Berkshire County, Massachusetts to send militia immediately for anticipation of an attack on Fort Ticonderoga; in 1777, English General Burgoyne and his 5,782 man army at Saratoga, agrees to capitulation during the mid-day; in the mid-Hudson Valley, British General Clinton’s troops burn the town of Esopus, New York, thinking the action will divert American attention away from Bourgoyne, reports were received by the British on Mount Independence that “an Indian who left on the 13th reported that Burgoyne was surrounded and as the firing had ceased took it for granted that Burgoyne was capitulating”, American General Israel Putnam (who fought around Saratoga during the French and Indian War) wrote to General Washington, “ I met the agreabl[e] intelligence of the Surrendry of Genl Burgoine & his army as prisoners of war, a Copy of which is enclosed; & thereupon I do most Sencerely Congratulate your excellency”; in 1778, Brigadier General John Stark wrote to George Washington from Albany, “you have Ordered those Troops that are posted at Fort Edward to Quarter at Saratoga”; in 1877, the 3-day centennial celebration began, in 1966, the annual men’s fall steak roast at St. Stephen’s Church; in 1999, a family circuit bicycle races held; and in 2013, the demolition of old town hall began on Ferry Street.
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 http://ift.tt/2czXtwq 
(Thank you to Deputy Historian Patricia Peck for compiling information for this timetable.) 
October 16

Sweet joins the 99s

#onthisday in 1941, Ninety-Nine newsletter reported that Virginia Sweet joined as a member. 
The NINETY-NINES, is an international organization of licensed women pilots from 44 countries which was founded in 1929 and currently has thousands of members throughout the world. 
The following section will provide some background on Virginia Sweet, a woman that broke barriers in the aviation world for decades. She can provide inspiration and is a role models for young women seeking to enter the aviation profession. 
Virginia Sweet was born in 1921 in the hamlet of Quaker Springs in the Town of Saratoga. Her father, Harry Sweet was a disabled (gas exposure) World War 1 veteran who passed away when Sweet was 9 years old. Her mother Jessica Smith Sweet struggled to raise Virginia and her two sisters. Virginia Sweet worked hard and was gifted in her academics. She skipped two grades at the Quaker Springs one-room schoolhouse. She graduated from Mechanicville High School and Duke University (with honors). Her ”flying career was inspired by her grandfather and her reading of Amelia Earhart’s books when she was a youngster. When Ginger came home at the end of her sophomore year at Duke University, she found that her grandfather had a brand new car. She wanted to learn to drive it but he said no one was going to drive his new car. “Then I’m going to learn to fly instead,” Virginia retorted and did just that  according to the Troy Times 18 November 1952. 
She became a student in the Civilian Pilot Training program at Union College and received a private pilot’s license in September, 1940. In 1943, she joined the Women’s Airforce Service Pilots (WASP). The WASP were a corps of U.S. female pilots able to fill all types of flying jobs at home, thus freeing male military pilots to travel to the front line of World War 2. She was assigned to Romulus, Michigan, where she took her regular turn with male pilots in flight delivery of army aircraft. She is qualified to fly 23 different types of planes and to co-pilot Flying Fortresses, Liberators, Mitchel bombers and Catalina amphibians. After WWII, she served as a reserve commission in 1949 and spent five years on active duty during and after the Korean War. She retired from the USAF Reserve in September 1979, as a Lt. Colonel after 30 years of service.
 In addition, she had the Amelia Earhart Scholarship presented to her in NYC in 1949, by Maj. Gen. Robert M. Webster, Commanding General of the Eastern Defense Command of the Continental Air Command, United States Air Force. After WASP deactivation, she had a lifelong aviation career, adding some 55 different civilian types of aircrafts to her flight log, along with 14 sailplanes and gliders. She held a commercial pilot certificate with ratings for single and multi-engine land and seaplanes, gliders, and an instrument and instructor certificate. 
She was an advanced ground school instructor and was a flight examiner for many years. She taught flying at Lake Champlain, at RPI to ROTC cadets, and at most of the airports in the Capital District. 
Saratoga has been defined by the people who by choice or by chance make up this community. There are many individuals like Virginia Sweet that help define this country, our region, and this community. It is the determination of our forefathers, 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. That is why studying the people of Saratoga is integral to a good understanding of the condition of being human.

OTD: Baroness describes the Siege

#Onthisday in 1777 Baroness Frederika von Riedesel described the conditions during the Siege in Saratoga: “Finally, they spoke of capitulating, as by’ temporizing for so long a time, our retreat had been cut off. A cessation of hostilities took place, and my husband, who was thoroughly worn out, was able, for the first time in a long while, to lie down upon a bed. In order that his rest might not be in the least disturbed, I had a good bed made up for him in a little room; while I, with my children and both my maids, laid down in a little parlor close by. But about one o’clock in the night, some one came and asked to speak to him. It was with the greatest reluctance that I found myself obliged to awaken him. I observed that the message did not please him, as he immediately sent the man back to head-quarters, and laid himself down again considerably out of humor. Soon after this, General Burgoyne requested the presence of all the generals and staff officers at a council-of-war, which was to be held early the next morning; in which he proposed to break the capitulation, already made with the enemy, in consequence of some false information just received. It was, however, finally decided, that this was neither practicable nor advisable; and this was fortunate for us, as the Americans said to us afterwards, that had the capitulation been broken we all would have been massacred; which they could have done the more easily, as we were not over four or five thousand men strong, and had given them time to bring together more than twenty thousand. “ 
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, which Governor Horatio Seymour said, “on this spot, American Independence was made a great fact in the history of nations. Until the surrender of the British army under Burgoyne, the Declaration of Independence was but a declaration. It was a patriotic purpose asserted in bold words by brave men, who pledged for its main tenance their lives, their fortunes and their sacred honor. But here it was made a fact, by virtue of armed force. It had been regarded by the world merely as an act of defiance, but it was now seen that it contained the germs of a government, which the event we celebrate made one of the powers of the earth. Here rebellion was made revolution. Upon this ground, that which had in the eye of the law been treason, became triumphant patriotism.” 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.

OTD: Kosciuszko died from a fall from a horse.

#Onthisday in 1817, American War of Independence Officer Tadeusz Kosciuszko died from a fall from a horse. 
Andrzej Tadeusz Bonawentura Kościuszko was a Polish-Lithuanian military engineer and a military leader who became a national hero in Poland, Lithuania, Belarus, and the United States. He fought in the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth’s struggles against Russia and Prussia, and on the American side in the American War of Independence. As Supreme Commander of the Polish National Armed Forces, he led the 1794 Kościuszko Uprising. 
Kościuszko was born in February 1746 in the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, in a village that is now in Belarus. At age 20, he graduated from the Corps of Cadets in Warsaw, Poland. In 1776, Kościuszko moved to North America, where he took part in the American War of Independence as a colonel in the Continental Army. An accomplished military architect, he designed and oversaw the construction of state-of-the-art fortifications, including those at West Point, New York. In 1783, in recognition of his services, the Continental Congress promoted him to brigadier general.
 Kościuszko is known in our community because of the Battles of Saratoga. In September, 1777 American General Gates tapped Kościuszko to survey the country between the opposing armies, choose the most defensible position, and fortify it. Kościuszko chose a raised area a few miles south of Saratoga, known as Bemus Heights, to build their fortifications and stop the British advance to Albany. Bemus Heights overlooked the Hudson River and the road to Albany at a natural “bottleneck” in the river valley. The heights gave a commanding view north, where the British would be advancing from. Dense woodland and difficult ravines prevented the British from traversing the land just east of the river. Swampland and ravines directly beneath Bemus Heights restricted Burgoyne’s advance to the river and the road, both of which were highly visible and vulnerable to American forces. These imposing defenses forced Burgoyne’s army to take the only safe route open to them and move inland, away from the Hudson, a few miles north of Bemus Heights. Kościuszko’s judgment and meticulous attention to detail frustrated the British attacks during the Battles of Saratoga, and American General Gates accepted the surrender of British General Burgoyne’s army on October 17, 1777. 
Today, when people hear the name Kościuszko they think of the Thaddeus Kosciusko Bridge, commonly referred to as the Twin Bridges, which span the Mohawk River between the towns of Colonie, Albany County and Halfmoon, Saratoga County, on Interstate 87 or the Adirondack Northway. Others may think of the Kosciuszko Bridge spanning Newtown Creek between Brooklyn and Queen in New York City. 
Saratoga has been defined by the people who by choice or by chance make up this community. There are many individuals like Tadeusz Kosciuszko that help define this country and our community. It is the determination of our forefathers, 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 integral to a good understanding of the condition of being human.