Park vs. Battlefield

By Joe Craig, Park Ranger Sometimes visitors are disappointed when they arrive at a national park.  Maybe the scenery was obscured by fog, or they arrived a bit too late, or the visitor center was closed for repairs.  Many things can conspire to make a visit less than satisfactory. On a recent morning at the […]

Paradise: Lost, Strayed or Stolen

By Joe Craig, Park Ranger There is a particularly amusing cartoon from Gary Larsen’s Far Side. (Okay, it’s one of many.) Amid an untouched natural world, a huge glass specimen jar labeled “Humans” has broken open and its occupants, a man and a woman are running free. From the clouds a voice says, “uh-oh” as […]

How Rank Can You Get?

By Joe Craig, Park Ranger Americans highly regard the people who won our Independence during the Revolutionary War. Considering the accomplishment of surviving a war against the top power of its day, it’s understandable that when our first national myths were created the “Founding Fathers” would be in for a good deal of admiration. By […]

Of Bumps and Obelisks

By Joe Craig, Park Ranger When the Prospect Hill Cemetery was established in 1865, remnants of General John Burgoyne’s final entrenchments were still visible. The construction of the cemetery resulted in the complete eradication of that direct link to the events of 1777. Such actions often elicit a yelp of pain from modern historians, but […]

Loyalist John Peters

By Joe Craig, Park Ranger When General Burgoyne’s army capitulated its roster included four titled nobles, perhaps a half dozen members of Parliament (including General Burgoyne) and one former member of the Continental Congress: John  Peters. Peters in 1774 had been appointed from his district in what is now Vermont to be part of the First Continental Congress that met […]

La Belle Dame Sans Merci

By Joe Craig, Park Ranger Visitors to Saratoga National Historical Park seem to have a variety of reactions to the resources of the site and stories it tells. The views from the visitor center (when not obscured by summertime haze) elicit appreciative gasps over the beauty of the valley. Newborn fawns in the spring bring […]

Honour among Gentleman

By Joe Craig, Park Ranger In the middle of nowhere, far from centers of power and gentility, two gentlemen conferred and the results would set off shock waves throughout the globe.  Amid the remote, near wilderness American General Horatio Gates accepted the capitulation of British General John Burgoyne’s trapped army at Saratoga. Burgoyne’s invading force had come to […]

Gone for a Soldier

By Joe Craig, Park Ranger “…The burial was located outside the redoubt wall, at the northernmost end of the fortification. The burial pit was basin shaped, but very shallow, such that both the head and feet were just below the surface. The individual was buried, face up, but both the skull and the feet were […]

George Foresees the Future

By Joe Craig, Park Ranger American historians have proven to be harsh judges of the British during the War for Independence. Certainly such animosity can be understood by writers in the first generation of an independent United States. The wounds of that long conflict were quite fresh in mind, and the US was rather insecure […]

General Howe’s Problem

By Joe Craig, Park Ranger On October 17, 1777, Lieutenant General John Burgoyne capitulated with his army to Major General Horatio Gates.  Probably no later than 5 pm that day the “Monday morning quarterbacking” began.  Burgoyne himself would memorably look over the events in his book A State of the Expedition from Canada in 1780 and blame everybody and his […]