Bruce Dearstyne’s recent post, Historical Societies: Getting Past Hard Times, raises a number of disturbing issues. The story of the tribulations of the Saratoga County Historical Society is one of concern. The Institute of History, Archaeology, and Education (IHARE) has had several Teacherhostels / Historyhostels in Saratoga County mostly relating to the Battle of Saratoga and also in Waterford. Last summer as part of a Teaching American History grant, a group of teachers from Vermont stayed in Clifton Park while learning about the battle. I have had email exchanges with Brookside’s Executive Director Joy Houle about the possibility of having a Saratoga County History Conference there as was done in the Hudson Valley. Continue reading
In February 2012, Saratoga National Historical Park, located between Rt. 4 and Rt. 32 just north of the Village of Stillwater, will offer a free, month-long highlight exhibit on Agrippa Hull, a black soldier who fought in the Battle of Saratoga. And from 1:30 to 3:30 PM on Sunday, February 12, 2012, the Park presents a special free program, “Men of African Descent at the Battle of Saratoga.”
This special exhibit focuses on the Agrippa Hull, a black soldier who fought in the Battle of Saratoga. Hull, who was a slave in early life, fought in the American Revolution and eventually became a very successful businessman. Historical documentation on his life and family gives us a unique look into an ordinary soldier and extraordinary man.
The program on Sunday the 19th unveils new information about free and enslaved black soldiers fighting in the Battle of Saratoga. Among the fascinating findings is the racial integration in the ranks of the Continental Army, a situation that did not happen again until the Korean War.
For more information about this or other events, please call the Visitor Center at 518-664-9821 or check the park website at www.nps.gov/sara.
Illustration: Agrippa Hull.
Richard M. Ketchum, an author and editor who writings include Saratoga: Turning Point of America’s Revolutionary War and Divided Loyalties : How the American Revolution Came to New York, died on January 12 at a retirement home in Shelburne, Vermont. He was 89 and until four years ago had lived on his nearly 1,000-acre farm, Saddleback, in Dorset, VT.
Author David McCullough describes “like Shelby Foote unfolding the drama of the Civil War, Richard M. Ketchum writes of the Revolution as if he had been there . . . No novelist could create characters more memorable than the protagonists on both the American and British sides”
I had the pleasure of meeting Mr Ketchum, ten years ago in Olympia Hall in Schuylerville. He volunteered to speak one night as one of the activities commemorating the 225th Anniversary of the Battles of Saratoga. He and his wife were very generous with their time. He mentioned that night that there were others in the room that knew more about the Battles. I remember thinking then that they may be knowledgeable, however there is not a better writer and storyteller of this history than Richard Ketchum. I know that my community and all those with an interest in the American Revolution will be forever grateful for the writing of Richard Ketchum.
To learn more about Richard Ketchum visit this The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer Transcript
A full obituary can be read in the New York Times.
Sean Kelleher is the Historian for the Town of Saratoga and Village of Victory in the Upper Hudson Valley. He has a particular interest in colonial history, being active as a reenactor for 34 years and has served as a Commissioner on the New York State French and Indian War 250th Anniversary Commemoration Commission.
The Friends of Saratoga Battlefield have been awarded a $38,000 grant from the Alfred Z. Solomon Charitable Trust for the design and fabrication of a classic brass or bronze bas relief sculpture replicating the famous painting by John Trumbull (1756–1843) celebrating the Revolutionary War victory at Saratoga. It is expected to be a major part of the cultural landscape development of the historic “Sword Surrender Site” on the west side of Route 4 just south of Schuylerville.
Friends’ President Tim Holmes said, “The Solomon Trust grant will jump-start the magnificent cultural landscape plan by Saratoga Associates for this key historic site recently purchased and protected by the Open Space Institute. With our many partners we will commence the first stages of development to include a memorial wall, interpretive kiosk and a sculptural bas-relief of John Trumbull’s iconic painting The Surrender of General Burgoyne which stands in the U.S. Capitol as one of four scenes depicting the birth of American independence.”
The historic 19-acre site is where British General John Burgoyne surrendered his sword to American General Horatio Gates in 1777, marking the “Turning Point of America’s Revolutionary War.” It will be a key feature for heritage tourism in the area, linking Saratoga Battlefield to sites in Schuylerville and Victory where the British retreated before their surrender. A broad alliance is raising awareness of the impact of the
Battles of Saratoga on the region. It is being advanced by the Historic Saratoga-Washington on the Hudson Partnership, an entity created through cooperative action in the State Senate and Assembly to support local efforts through a voluntary framework of public and private groups.
The scene of the surrender of the British General John Burgoyne at Saratoga on October 17, 1777, painted by Trumbull in 1822, shows American General Horatio Gates, who refused to take the sword offered by General Burgoyne, and, treating him as a gentleman, invited him into his tent. All of the figures in the scene are portraits of specific officers (from left to right, beginning with mounted officer):
American Captain Seymour of Connecticut (mounted)
American Colonel Scammel of New Hampshire (in blue)
British Major General William Phillips (British Army officer) (in red)
British Lieutenant General John Burgoyne (in red)
American Major General Horatio Gates (in blue)
Americal Colonel Daniel Morgan (in white)
A full key to those depicted in the painting is available here.
John Trumbull was born in Connecticut, the son of the governor. After graduating from Harvard University, he served in the Continental Army under General Washington. He studied painting with Benjamin West in London and focused on history painting.
To find out more about the grant or the Friends of Saratoga Battlefield, call Tim Holmes at 518.587.9499
Saratoga National Historical Park is having a photo contest to select the photo to appear on its 2012 Annual Park Pass. From September 25 until November 4, 2011, visitors may submit up to 3 photos to be considered for next year’s Annual Pass. The winning photo will also be included in a special 2012 park calendar, and the photographer will receive a complimentary annual pass to the park.
Each photo submitted must be: taken within park boundaries, JPG format with minimum 300 DPI resolution, no larger than 3 MB file size, and between 4”x6” and 8”x10” in size. All submitted photos will become the property of Saratoga National Historical Park, though photographers will be credited if their photo(s) is used in future park publications.
A complete list of rules may be obtained by contacting Park Ranger Megan Stevens at 518-664-9821 ext. 219, or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org
Submitted photos may also be sent to that e-mail address.
This Sunday, October 2, 2011, the Saratoga National Historical Park will offer a special theatrical performance called “Rendezvous with Treason: the Benedict Arnold Betrayal.” The free program will be held from 1:30 to 2:30 PM at the park, located between Rt. 4 and Rt. 32, just north of the Village of Stillwater, NY.
Benedict Arnold is perhaps one of the best-known names in early American history. A hero at the Battle of Saratoga, his later conspiracy with British Major John André to turn over defenses at West Point to the British forever branded his name with the word “traitor.”
This first-person theatrical performance, presented by educators and actors Sean Grady and Gary Petagine, will give audience members a unique view of Arnold and André and their attempt to bring down the cause of American Independence.
“Rendezvous with Treason” is sponsored by Friends of Saratoga Battlefield. For more information about this or other events, call the Visitor Center at 518-664-9821 ext. 224 or check the park website.
Illustration: a political cartoon, captioned “A Proper Family Re-Union” at the bottom. It depicts Satan welcoming Benedict Arnold and Jefferson Davis to Hell. Published in 1865.
The National Park Service (NPS) is conducting a study of lands of the Saratoga National Historical Park that lie within the Hudson River’s 100-year floodplain in Stillwater.
The study is part of the NPS’s ongoing evaluation of the Park’s archeological resources under the National Historic Preservation Act and will further the NPS’s work with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to ensure that activities to clean up polychlorinated biphenyl (PCB)
contamination in the Hudson River’s sediments and floodplain minimize potential harm to, or loss of, historic materials and the context in which they are found.
An archeology team will evaluate the presence and significance of any artifacts or features and report findings to the public by 2013. If objects of cultural significance are recovered that relate to the Battles of Saratoga or the area’s early settlement, the park will try to place them on public display.
Because the study area may be contaminated with PCBs, staff conducting the study will be outfitted in personal protective gear and the public will not be able to enter work areas for their safety. For more information about the study, contact Charles Sullivan, Environmental Protection Specialist, Saratoga National Historical Park at 664.9821 ext. 235 or by email at, Charles_Sullivan@nps.gov
Saratoga National Historical Park is one of 396 national parks in the United States. For further information about the park and programs, please call (518) 664-9821 ext. 224 or check their website.
This Saturday and Sunday, September 17-18, Saratoga National Historical Park, located on Routes 32 and 4 in Stillwater, will present an 18th century living history encampment marking the 234th anniversary of the world’s “most important battle of the last 1,000 years.” Camps will be open Saturday from 11:00 AM to 4:00 PM, and on Sunday from 11:00 AM to 3:00 PM.
The 2-day encampment will surround visitors with the sights, smells, and sounds of military camp life from the American Revolution. Dozens of re-enactors portray American and British officers, soldiers, cavalry troops, and camp followers from the Battles of Saratoga. See cavalry charge, join in a court-martial and decide the soldier’s fate, take part in a musket drill, follow along with a scouting party, or listen to stories of the revolutionary war experience. Feel the thunderous roar of cannons, smell the acrid smoke of musket fire as well as the welcoming wisps of camp cooking fires.
On Saturday evening at 6:00pm, come to the American camp (tour road stop 2) to see British actor Howard Burnham give a hilarious and insightful portrayal of Marquis de Lafayette, a French nobleman who became an American army general in the Revolutionary War. An encore performance of his program will be given at the park Visitor Center at 1:30pm on Sunday.
The event is free, but the normal entrance fee to the park of $5 per car (good for one week entry) is charged. For more information about this or other events, please call the Visitor Center at 518-664-9821 or check the park website at www.nps.gov/sara.
With favorable weather conditions in place, certified wildland firefighters at Saratoga National Historical Park in Stillwater in conjunction with DEC Forest Rangers, will undertake prescribed burning of approximately 46 acres in the center of the park, near Stop 4 in late August and early September. The park will remain open to visitors during this time.
For over twenty years, prescribed fires have been a valuable and safe tool in managing Saratoga Battlefield’s 3200 acres. Planned burns allow the park to maintain its historic 1777 landscape, reduce the spread of exotic plant species, encourage regeneration of natural grasses and eliminate the need for personnel to work on hazardous slopes with mechanical equipment. Additionally, hazard fuel reduction around developed areas provides for fire fighter safety and structure protection in the event of a natural wildfire.
An official Fire Management Plan is required before such a prescribed fire can occur. Saratoga National Historical Park’s Fire Management Plan was approved by regional NPS Fire Management Officers. Neighboring fire departments are informed of daily plans and prior to igniting a fire, and park staff runs down a go/no go checklist prior to any firing.
If you have any questions about prescribed fires at Saratoga National Historical Park or park events, please contact the park’s visitor center at (518) 664.9821 ext. 224.
Superintendent Joe Finan has selected National Park Service civil engineer Jason Huart as the new Facilities Manager for Saratoga National Historical Park (the Battlefield). In his new position, Huart will manage the cultural landscape, historic structures and park facilities at the Battlefield, Schuyler House, Saratoga Monument and Victory Woods.
“John has extensive knowledge in asset management in the National Park Service,” Finan said in a prepared statement. “His background will enhance the parks ability to secure funds for stewardship of the parks varied cultural and natural resources. “
Huart comes to Saratoga NHP from the Alaska region of the National Park Service. There he served as a contracting officer representative for multi-million dollar construction projects and performed inspections. He oversaw the Asset Management Program which includes training staff in the use of multiple software systems and providing technical assistance to parks seeking internal grants through project management software systems. He also developed strategic maintenance and budget plans for the Alaska Region.
Huart has a Master’s of Science Degree from Michigan Technological University and a Bachelor’s in Engineering. Prior to his work with the National Park Service, Huart worked for the Peace Corps in Honduras as a water and sanitation engineer and worked in the construction field during college. He enjoys hunting, fishing, skiing, camping and loves being on the water.
Saratoga National Historical Park was established in 1938 to preserve the historic setting of the American victory and surrender of the British Army in 1777. The park includes thousands of acres of open space in four separate units along the Hudson River. Saratoga National Historical Park is one of 394 national parks in the United States.