New England Trip 2012 – Day 3 – Saratoga National Historical Park
Although it had been raining quite heavily when I stopped in Schuylerville to photograph that village’s decorative horse statues and bicycle racks, conditions had improved a bit by the time that we reached the Saratoga National Historic Park and drove through the winding road on our way to the park headquarters and interpretive center.
We brought along our tents and sleeping bags for this trip but wouldn’t likely be using them since most of the camp grounds were closed for the season and, when weather is cold and damp, the appeal of hotels, motels and lodges tends to increase quite a bit. Thankfully, our camping equipment is slightly higher tech than what would have been used in the 1770’s :-).
The main building is quite modern and houses a gift shop, welcome center and exhibits of period clothing and weaponry as well as plenty of information about the Battles of Saratoga (1777) which occurred during the American Revolutionary War (a.k.a. American War of Independence 1775 – 1783). Already this summer, I have attended reenactments of the French and Indian War (1754 – 1763) and the American Civil War (1861 – 1865) and visited a number of locations where battles were fought during the War of 1812-1815.
As I switched locations and wars, it was interesting to see how the various versions were being interpreted. A bit tongue in cheek when I relate how the British were the hordes descending from the North in the Revolutionary War but it was the hordes of Americans invading from the south during the War of 1812. Of course, who was the real invader or horde is highly dependent on one’s point of view or geographic location of birth. Of course, life would be simpler if everyone used the same nomenclature for these four wars but that would make things far too easy for history students!
In my British History classes, I was never a star at getting the dates right for all of the British skirmishes at home or abroad so, one of my goals this summer was to try to at least figure out who was fighting whom and who was fighting where for some of the North American battles. First step, the chronology! Phew, need a rest.
During the American War of Independence, British troops and their allies, under the command of John Burgoyne, moved south through Lake Champlain, captured Fort Ticonderoga, and fought two significant battles at a location south of current day Saratoga. As I stood on the hillside by the interpretive center, it was rather easy for me to imagine the conditions of the Sept. 19, 1777 battle since that day many years ago the day had begun as a foggy day and the troops had begun their approach “as the fog lifted”. Here I was, over 235 years later, hoping that the drizzle would stop and the fog would clear a bit so that I could get a better shot!
Through this tumultuous period of battles on American soil, the local native people were often used as scouts and often had to chose to fight for one side or the other. The battles took there toll on the people of the Six Nations tribes in that, not only did many die in battle, but also alignments during those battles changed some tribal allegiances within those first nations peoples.
While I was studying and photographing many of the items on display in the interpretive center, the weather outside was clearing a bit and with time I was able to more clearly see the terrain and its contours and so, with weapon in hand, I headed outside again to take a few more shots.
A painting inside the Interpretive Center provided an excellent depiction of what the battle scene might have look like as the Americans attacked the fortifications manned by the British and thier German allies. In the end, Burgoyne and his troops were defeated at Saratoga on October 7, 1777 and the Battles of Saratoga were considered to be a turning point in the American Revolutionary War.
As we headed back to our car, we passed this water fountain sporting a sign indicating that the sodium level in the water might be hazardous to your health. I’m certain that the folks in 1777 had no idea how dangerous the water was!