Thursday, October 18, 2012
A Beautiful Day on the Battlefield
Another beautiful autumn day, almost as warm as summer. I was able to coax my husband to come for a walk with me, promising that I wouldn't stop every five minutes to take photographs. But where should we go on this blue-sky day? How about the Saratoga Battlefield (officially: the Saratoga National Historical Site)? Its broad open fields over rolling hills leading down to the Hudson River offer majestic views of forest and meadow, as well as of the mountains rising beyond the river.
The park people keep these meadows mowed to resemble the farmland existing here in 1777, when American fighters for independence met and defeated a major British army force in the Battle of Saratoga, now considered a turning point in the Revolutionary War. According to historians, the American victory here renewed patriots' hopes for independence and secured essential foreign recognition and support, leading to the ultimate vanquishing of British forces and the founding of a new independent nation.
It's hard to believe, on such calm and beautiful days as this, that these fields once resounded with the roar of cannons and the screams of wounded and dying men. Today, the only sounds we could hear were occasional trills of tree crickets and the sighing sound of wind as it set the poplars' leaves atremble.
I couldn't figure out what shrubs these were that colored this meadow dark red. They set me thinking of all the blood that was shed in this war and in all the subsequent wars that never seem to end. Sometimes I think that our nation was cursed to have been born out of war, since we seem to have acquired an insatiable thirst for blood, as well as a trust in the power of weaponry to address the problems of the world.
Thoughts too dark for such a glorious day! Our trail was just as splendid as we made our return to the park's visitors' center.
Back at the visitors' center we met and talked with two men, dressed in period attire, who were cleaning the weapons they'd fired today in a demonstration for school children. This gentleman, Kevin Morrow, is a volunteer with the park and the husband of one of the park rangers. He is wearing the uniform of the Second Albany County Militia, an outfit that his wife helped sew for him.
Andrew DeMartino, a seasonal ranger at the park, is wearing part of the uniform of Cook's Connecticut Militia. He had shed the uniform's jacket while cleaning his weapon, the barrel of which was blackened inside with gunpowder.