Event to Commemorate the Battles of Saratoga in NYC

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Trinity_Church_Cemetery_NYC_9109A 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.

Glorious-Gates-and-Washington-Bickerstaffs-Boston-Almanack-1778A 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).

2 thoughts on “Event to Commemorate the Battles of Saratoga in NYC

  1. Bob Ulrich

    The real Gates story is not nearly so pretty. Pushing Gen Phillip Schuyler out of command, he won at Saratoga only because of the aid of Col Dan Morgan and Gen Benedict Arnold. Due to his jealousy, Arnold got no recognition for his heroism that day, adding to the list of reasons he eventually became a traitor. Then , to end his career as a commander, Gates abandons his troops at the Battle of Camden in SC, the greatest battle loss for US forces until years later in early WWII at Corregidor !! Replaced by Gen Nathaniel Greene, the war was soon brought a to successful conclusion w/o his help !

    Celebrate the battle but teach the real history of this non-hero.

    1. James S. KaplanJJames S.Kaplan

      It was Congress that removed Schuyler as commander of the American forces in the Northern Department prior to the battle of Saratoga, and it is highly doubtful that the American effort would have succeeded had he remained, as the New England militias, who were critical to the American success, would not fight under him. Gates, not Arnold or Morgan, was the one who with the Massachussetts politicians hwo placed him in command, rallied the New England militias to join him at Bemis Heights. While Arnold and Morgan fought bravely, they were subordinate officers to Gates who had overall command and designed the strategy,. even though his role would be downplayed by most later Washington biographers. It is a great credit to the New York State DAR that they last year placed a marker in Trinity churchyard
      recognizing his previously unmarked grave. In an era in which probably fewer than one in twenty New Yorkers has ever heard of him and probably less thanhalf of all people living in New York City have ever heard of the Battle of Saratoga , it is appropriate that both the battle and Gates contribution to it be recognized at the site where he is buried but was ffor many years forgotten.


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