Saratoga National Historic Park and Battlefield represents the site of one of the most crucial engagements of the American War of Independence from Great Britain. It is here that the newly formed American Army won a critical victory over the British that led the eventual recognition of the United States by France who later provided key military aid that led to the decisive defeat of the British at Yorktown. Without this victory it is entirely conceivable that the United States would not have won her independence. This battle must therefore rank up there are a major event in both American and Global History.
This now-bucolic park contains the sites of most of the two engagements that make up the Battle of Saratoga. Most of the key sections can be seen from the one-way auto road (a great bicycle ride too) that covers 10 key stops in its 10 mile trip through the park:
- Freeman Farm Overlook: This place was where the opening shots of the first Battle of Saratoga were fired by American rifleman on the advance guard of General Burgoyne’s army.
- Neilson Farm: This was the location of the headquarters used by American Generals Benedict Arnold and Enoch Poor. There are also monuments to the American military engineer Tadeusz Kosciuszko and the Daughters of the American Revolution. The American Fortifications are defined by blue-topped stakes that provide an idea of what the area would have looked like at the time of the battle.American River Fortifications atop Bemis Heights: This was one of the key
- strong points of the American fortifications during the Battle of Saratoga. This location overlooking the Hudson River and main road through the area (roughly where US 4 runs today) provided key cover fire at a main choke point on the Hudson River and it’s road from Canada to New York.
- Chatfield Farm: This American outpost spotted initial British movement in October of 1777 and fired some of the opening shots of the second part of the Battle of Saratoga.
- Barber Wheatfield: This was near the location that American troops intercepted a British advance of 1,500 men in an attempt to probe the American Lines.
- Balcarres Redoubt at Freeman Farm: This was one of the main British strong points, or redoubts, during the Battle of Saratoga. The contours of the original redoubt are outlined by red stakes.
- Breymann Redoubt: This smaller fortification was guarding the British right
flank. There is also a monument to Benedict Arnold here as he received a wound in the leg when rallying American troops when they went on to capture the British position.
- General Burgoyne’s Headquarters: A path from this stop leads to the location of the headquarters of General Burgoyne, who led the British Army at Saratoga.
- The Great Redoubt: This was the strongest of the hilltop forts built by the British overlooking the Hudson River. It guarded several key areas for the British, including their hospital, artillery park, allies, stocks and other key items.
- General Fraser Burial Site: A trail from this lot goes to the spot where British General Fraser was buried after being mortally wounded.
The park also boasts a museum (housed in the visitor center) with a movie about the battle and several information exhibits to start your visit to the park.
Facilities, Fees and Other Information:
Saratoga National Historic Park boasts a visitor center with restrooms, an information desk staffed by park rangers, a gift shop and patio with a lovely view of the surrounding area. It is the perfect place to start your visit to the park.
Entrance to the auto road section of the park requires paying a fee of $5 per car or $3 per bicycle or hiker. An annual pass to this park is available or to the entire National Park System (the ‘America the Beautiful’ Pass). For more information visit the National Park Service Website.
While the park is open year-round, parts of it close for the winter, including the auto road. Visit the park website, email (firstname.lastname@example.org or call the park headquarters (518-664-9821 ext. 224 for the information desk) to get a better idea of what is open for your visit.
Location and Directions:
Saratoga NHS has entrances off US Route 4 and NY State Route 32 in Stillwater, NY.
It is about 30 miles north of Albany and easily accessed from exit 12 off I-87. The following address and GPS coordinates should put you at the western entrance to this park off Route 32:
648 NY Route 32
Stillwater, NY 12170