Historic America

Saratoga National Historical Park in Stillwater, New York

Saratoga National Historical Park preserves the ground on which two strategically important Revolutionary War battles were fought. The Battle of Freeman’s Farm was fought on September 19, 1777 and the Battle of Bemis Heights was fought on October 7. Collectively, they are known as the Battles of Saratoga. They are considered Benedict Arnold’s greatest victories, before his traitorous defection to the British.

In 1777, British General John Burgoyne marched south from Canada down the Champlain Valley in a plan to cut New England off from the other American colonies. He didn’t get far. At the Battle of Freeman’s Farm, Burgoyne confronted Generals Horatio Gates and Benedict Arnold and the Continental Army with 9,000 men to 7,200. Though technically a British victory, the engagement cost them nearly 600 casualties. The Americans suffered approximately 300 killed and wounded. Burgoyne decided to forgo an immediate pursuit.

Eighteen days later, at the Battle of Bemis Heights, Burgoyne took 5,000 effectives and advanced on the Continental Army’s positions. Benedict Arnold, furious at having been unjustly relieved of command, appeared on the field and led an attack that shattered the British lines. Burgoyne ordered a retreat to Saratoga (Schuylerville), where his army was surrounded. He surrendered along with his entire army on October 16, 1777.

Saratoga was the scene of an infamous dispute between American generals Horatio Gates and Benedict Arnold. Though Arnold and his forces were key to saving the Continental Army at Freeman’s Farm, Gates took the credit and later relieved Arnold of his command. This is considered the basis for Arnold’s later betrayal of the Colonial cause. The monument to Benedict Arnold at Saratoga does not bear his name, the only anonymous war memorial in the United States.

Today, the battlefield is a picturesque National Historical Park with a visitor center, monuments, cannon, and a self guided driving and walking tour. The park was established in 1938 and is roughly 3,392 acres in size. Despite the battlefield’s importance and its proximity to New York City (3-hour drive up I-87), the park only receives 60,000 to 70,000 visitors a year. The Visitors Center doubles as a museum and gift shop, with a 20-minute orientation film and light map.

Saratoga National Historical Park is located at 648 Route 32 outside Stillwater, New York. The visitor center is open daily, 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., closed on Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Day. The park is open April 1 through November 30 and admission is free to the public.

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