A ceremony commemorating the anniversary of the American victory at the Battles of Saratoga will take place at 2 pm on Saturday, October 12, in New York City’s Trinity Church, in the churchyard where Horatio Gates and Marinus Willett, two of the most important American commanders at the Battles, are buried.
For many years various communities have celebrated the anniversaries of important Revolutionary War battles. For more than 150 years, Boston’s annual celebration of the battle of Bunker Hill has been a major civic event. However, the anniversary of the resounding American victory at Saratoga and its related battles, which most historians consider the clear turning point of the Revolutionary War, is believed to have never been celebrated in New York City.
This is particularly ironic since the overall commander of the American forces at Saratoga, General Horatio Gates, is buried in Trinity Church churchyard, as is Colonel Marinus Willett, who was the hero of the Battle of Fort Stanwix, a very important subsidiary battle without which Gates’ army may never have been successful. In fact, until the Peter Minuit Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) placed a plaque in honor of General Gates in Trinity Church churchyard on October 21 of last year General Gates grave was unmarked. Alexander Hamilton who is also buried in Trinity Church churchyard also played a role in the immediate aftermath of the battle, when he was sent by George Washington as his personal representative to deal with Gates in negotiations relating to deployment of troops after the stunning American victory.
Particularly now that there is recognition of the fact that General Gates is buried at Trinity Church, it is time for there to be a ceremony officially commemorating this most important Revolutionary battle here in New York City at the site where two of the key commanders who won the battle are buried. Accordingly, starting at 2pm, a speaker from Trinity Church will talk about the Church and its churchyard which is one of the most historic sites in the City of New York.
A representative of the DAR, which was responsible for the laying of the marker to General Gates in 2012 will give a short speech about General Gates and then lay a wreath on the Gates marker. A representative of the New York State Chapter of the Sons of the Revolution (SR) will then speak briefly about Alexander Hamilton and lay a wreath in front of the monument at Alexander Hamilton’s grave, which is currently under reconstruction, and a representative of the National Democratic Club will speak briefly about Marinus Willett, who was a leader of the Tammany Society and one of the founders of the New York State Democratic party followed by a wreath laying on Willett’s grave.
The ceremony will be preceded at 12:30 by a one and a half hour walking tour sponsored by Open House New York in which walking tour historian James S. Kaplan, who has for the past seventeen years given an all-night tour on July 4 for the Fraunces Tavern Museum (which is sponsored by the SR), will visit sites relevant to Gates and Willett in Lower Manhattan, He will also talk about how Gates strategy led to the surrender of the 10,000 man British force under General John Burgoyne at Saratoga on October 17, 1777, after the British defeat at Bemis Heights on October 8, 1777…
“Although Gates and Willett are virtually unknown to most New Yorkers today, they played a very significant role in New York City’s politics after the Revolution, in addition to being very important Revolutionary War commanders Hopefully this ceremony will help to educate New Yorkers about the great importance of these forgotten Revolutionary War heroes who are buried right here in Lower Manhattan”, Kaplan said in statement prepared for the press.
The event is sponsored by the New York State Chapter of the Sons of the Revolution, the Peter Minuit Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution, the National Democratic Club, and the 1st New York Continental Chapter of the Sons of the American Revolution.
Photo: Trinity Church Cemetery (Courtesy Wikimedia user Gryffindor).