Saratoga National Historical Park Ground Breaking Ceremony

Fifteen people plant shovels in the dirt to break ground for a new monument.
Dignitaries break ground for a new memorial at Saratoga National Historical Park.

NPS photo

At Saratoga National Historical Park on October 17, 2017, a ceremonial ground breaking was held on the very land where British General John Burgoyne surrendered his sword to Continental Army General Horatio Gates after the Battles of Saratoga 240 years ago. A new memorial will commemorate the victory over British forces that many claim was the turning point of the American Revolution.

The ceremonial groundbreaking had 15 shovels, one for each of the 15 American generals on hand when the surrender took place. Plans for the memorial include an orientation area and pathways leading to a halfmoon-shaped wall, which will include information about the site’s significance. The centerpiece will be a large bas relief of John Trumbull’s 1821 masterpiece painting, “Surrender of General Burgoyne,” which hangs in the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C. Finishing touches comprise a gazebo and nature trail.

“Our ancestors started something big here,” said Superintendent Amy Bracewell of Saratoga National Historical Park. “Our work to develop this site will keep the fire of freedom alive for generations to come.”

“The British army had lost other battles before,” observed Park Ranger Eric Schnitzer. “They had lost at places such as Trenton, Princeton and Bennington. Saratoga was the first time in history that a British army surrendered in the field. When they did so, everybody noticed. That was shocking.” When news reached Europe, France decided to support America’s struggle for independence. Spain and the Netherlands also joined in alliances against Great Britain. Fighting in other parts of the globe helped the U.S. as well by causing Great Britain to divert resources away from the American Revolution.

The property was purchased in 2009 from a private landowner by the Open Space Institute of New York, which was later reimbursed with state funding. Some project money also came from the federally-funded American Battlefield Protection Program. However, most of the money raised to date has come from private sources such as Thomas Hagen of Erie, Pennsylvania whose ancestor, General Jacob Bailey, was one of three American generals responsible for cutting off the British army’s retreat, forcing it to surrender. Friends of Saratoga Battlefield is handling fundraising for the surrender site. The Historic Hudson Hoosic Rivers Partnership will oversee construction. When completed, the property will be turned over the National Park Service and will become part of Saratoga National Historical Park.

Last updated: December 28, 2017