On Saturday, June 2, 2012, from 1:30 PM to 2:30 PM, Saratoga National Historical Park will offer a demonstration of 18th-century style scything. Imagine trying to maintain your lawn or a field using only a long, sharp blade. Skilled living history teams will use 18th-century style scythes to clear large areas of field as they gather hay for farm animals. As they work, a park ranger will tell stories about farming and food harvesting in the late 1700s.
In the event of rain, the event will be held on Sunday, June 3, from 1:30 PM to 2:30 PM. For more information about this or other events, call the Visitor Center at 518-664-9821 ext. 1777 or check their website at www.nps.gov/sara.
Illustration: Image from Benjamin Butterworth’s The Growth of Industrial Art depicting reaping grain by hand sickle during the colonial period.
Saratoga National Historical Park has opened a new exhibit: Broken Trusts, the Chequered Career of Benedict Arnold. On display through April 2013, the exhibit examines the twists and turns of Arnold’s path from active supporter of American Independence to his betrayal of his country and comrades. “People are always puzzled as to why Benedict Arnold changed sides,” notes Park Ranger Joe Craig. “At Saratoga, Arnold’s heroism was stellar, yet later the pendulum swung the other direction and he betrayed his country. Some feel his earlier gallant service should be the main and only focus – our exhibit seeks to examine some of the enigmas and contradictions of this complex man.”
“A project like this requires a great deal of work by park staff, but could only have been made possible through partner groups” notes park Superintendent Joe Finan. “Funding was provided by Eastern National, our site’s bookstore and audio recordings about Arnold were made possible through our partnership with Siena College. Their Liberal Arts Department provided excellent voice talent and their radio station WVCR, provided high quality recording facilities.”
The exhibit will be on display 7 days a week from May 10 through April 2013. For more information on the exhibit or other Saratoga National Historical Park events, call the Visitor Center at 518-664-9821 ext. 1777 or check their website at www.nps.gov/sara
Illustration: General Benedict Arnold Wounded at the Battle of Saratoga, New York, c.1777.
Royalist Americans—commonly known to us as “Tories”—will take over the Breymann Redoubt on Saturday and Sunday, May 5th and 6th, each day from 10am to 4pm at Saratoga Battlefield, located on Route 32 and 4 in Stillwater.
Encamped on an original loyalist campsite from the 1777 Battles of Saratoga, men and women portraying Royalist American soldiers and followers will demonstrate some aspects of 18th-century military life including preparation of authentic military camp food, musket drills, and army clothing sewing demonstrations. They will also tell stories of the wartime sufferings of the Americans who chose to remain loyal to King George III during the Revolutionary War.
The event is free and open to the public, although an entrance fee to the auto tour road is charged. Passes are $5 per carload of people or $3 per adult to bike or hike. A one-year pass to the Battlefield costs $10. For more information on this and other events at Saratoga National Historical Park, the National Park, call the Visitor Center at 518-664-9821 ext. 1777, check the park website, or follow the park on Facebook.
Photo: Interpreters portray Loyalist militia at Fort Ticonderoga. Courtesy Fort Ticonderoga.
Traditional historical research draws primarily upon the written word- such as letters, journals, memorials, official documents and historical publications. Historians have shown less interest in historical visual arts that are often as important as written ones. In a lecture entitled “A Striking Likeness: Using Artwork for Historical Research and Using Research to Study Artwork,” Saratoga National Historical Park Historian Eric Schnitzer will take a brief look at artwork focusing on themes related to the American War for Independence and how careful study of the visual arts can add new dimensions to our understanding of the past.
The event will be held at Fort Montgomery State Historic Site (in Orange County) on Thursday, April 26th at 7 PM.
PLEASE NOTE: Seating is limited to 50. You may reserve seats by calling 845-446-2134. Leave your name, phone number and number of people in your party.
Illustration: The Burial of General Fraser engraved by William Nutter, after John Graham, published by John Jeffryes, May 1, 1794.
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.
The National Park Service will hold a volunteer recruiting session on Saturday February 4 at 1pm in the Erie Canalway/Peebles Island Visitor Center at 1 Delaware, Avenue, Cohoes or on Sunday February 26 at 1pm at Roosevelt-Vanderbilt National Historic Sites at 4097 Albany Post Road in Hyde Park.
Volunteers are provided uniforms and training on the history of the area, then are scheduled aboard the Adirondack or Maple Leaf trains to present various educational programs about the significant examples of the natural, cultural, and historical resources of each route.
Three national parks represented along the train routes are Roosevelt-Vanderbilt National Historic Sites, Saratoga National Historical Park (the Battlefield) and Erie Canalway National Heritage Corridor.
Email or call Volunteer Manager, Joe LaLumia at email@example.com (518) 573-8628 to reserve your seat and learn more about this exciting volunteer opportunity. Visit the National Park Service Trails and Rails website.
The 17th annual Frost Faire will take place from 10:30am to 3pm on Saturday, January 28 at Saratoga National Historical Park, located on Routes 4 and 32 in Stillwater. Popular in the 1700s, a “Frost Faire” eased the effects of “cabin fever” with opportunities to visit friends and enjoy winter activities, refreshments and entertainment.
If there’s snow, participants can bring their snow tube or plastic sled for rides on the “Big Hill.” Even if there is no snow, you can still enjoy horse-drawn carriage rides, winter nature treks, contra-dancing, special exhibits, games, plus cocoa and cookies by the bonfire. The event is free.
At Stop One — snow tubing the “Big Hill” (snow tubes/plastic sleds/toboggans only), bonfire, horse-drawn carriage rides and games including Giant Soldier Puzzle, Ice Bowling and Bottle Fishing, warming tent with cocoa and cookies. 12 noon: Winter Nature Hike with hidden treasures and prizes – open to all.
At the visitor center — contra-dancing, colonial handwriting demonstration, children’s craft room including decorative tin piercing and copper embossing, bonfire, cannon and musket firing demonstrations every half hour. 10:30am – Guided Snow-Shoe Trek by reservation only – call 664.9821 ext. 219 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org
This event is sponsored by the Town of Stillwater and Saratoga National Historical Park. For more information on this or other events at Saratoga National Historical Park, call the Visitor Center at 518-664-9821 ext. 224 or check their website.
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 email@example.com
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.