Virtual Tour Stop 2

John Neilson Farmhouse, only standing building on the battlefield from the time of the Battles of Saratoga.  Small red farmhouse in background, with a cannon on a red carriage in the foreground.
John Neilson Farmhouse, only standing building on the battlefield from the time of the Battles of Saratoga.

Saratoga National Historical Park

This charming little red farmhouse, with a nearly 360-degree panoramic view of the area, was built by John and Lydia Neilson in 1775 or 1776. A small, humble house, it would come to play an important role in history.

When the Neilsons learned that a southward-invading British Army was moving down the Hudson River Valley, basically through their back yard, John and Lydia joined their neighbors in leaving the immediate area. Lydia went to stay with her parents in Stillwater, about two miles south of the house. John, who was a sergeant in the local American militia regiment, was called up for militia duty.

 
Detail view of a model of a redoubt.
Detail view of a model of a redoubt.

Saratoga National Historical Park

Not long after, on September 12, 1777, the American Army began to build sturdy and intimidating fortifications along the ridge where the Neilsons had built their home. Represented now by lines of white marker posts with blue tops, the fortified walls were several feet high, made of thick logs in a "zig-zagging" line, and had dirt packed against the front of the wall (a few feet thick) as protection against cannon balls.
 
Today, white marker posts trace the positions of the soldiers' fortifications.
White marker posts representing position of fortifications.

Saratoga National Historical Park

The positions of the fortified walls are noted today with white wooden marker posts. American lines on the battlefield are indicated with blue topped posts. British lines, seen later on the tour, have red tops.
 
Interior view of John Neilson Farmhouse.
Interior view of John Neilson Farmhouse.

Saratoga National Historical Park

Neilson's house was then used by the Americans as a mid-level headquarters. Several high-ranking officers were quartered (slept) here, including General Enoch Poor and General Benedict Arnold. The American commander, General Horatio Gates, had his headquarters in another building, about a quarter-mile south of the house. Right now, the house is furnished as it might have looked when it was being used by these officers.
 

Many important daily functions of the American Army were managed by the officers here. Their rank permitted them many luxuries while doing these jobs.

Several examples are visible here:

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
American Continental Soldiers and an Oneida Indian Scout
LEFT: American Continental Soldiers. 
RIGHT: Oneida Indian Scout.

Saratoga National Historical Park

For the regular troops, including Continental Soldiers, Militia Soldiers, and Native American Soldiers and Scouts, these items were luxuries not to be expected.
 

Last updated: February 26, 2015

Contact the Park

Mailing Address:

648 Route 32
Stillwater, NY 12170

Phone:

(518) 670-2985
Saratoga National Historical Park information desk available daily from 9am - 5pm. If no one is available to take your call, please leave a message, and someone will return your call as soon as possible.

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