After a week of fighting, a young man in a red coat stands on a parapet
We lower our guns as he frantically waves a white handkerchief
And just like that, it’s over. We tend to our wounded, we count our dead
Black and white soldiers wonder alike if this really means freedom
Anyone who has been around me in the last month or so knows I’ve been obsessively listening to the Hamilton soundtrack. I probably know it backwards at this point. We did try to get tickets before we left but the theatre gods weren’t with me on that one (well, we could have thrown $400 a piece at resale tickets but I think even my new husband doesn’t love me that much…)
Instead we returned to the Saratoga Inn where we he had whisked me off to after proposing. It’s all gorgeous turret rooms and real fires and oh my god, where do they get those bed sheets because they feel like heaven on a stick. (It’s called Union Gables, should anyone be in Upstate New York at any point and feel the urge to stay there. The breakfast is also delicious, by the way).
So instead of immersing ourselves in the greatest rap musical ever made about a key figure in US History…we immersed ourselves in the land it talks about instead.
The battlefield trees were on fire with colour. The air was crisp, the day sunny. Perhaps it had been this pleasant when British soldiers were being forced ever backwards by a fierce US Revolutionary militia. There is little, if anything, left to demarcate lines of bloodshed any more… but poles hve been placed and fake firepits to show where the soldiers would have camped on farmland and fields. There is still an old wooden farmhouse to build impressions of tents and mud and horses around.
Occasionally a sign with an audio story will actually work, and that makes all the difference in helping you imagine the way the battle was waged…in fact, the visitor’s centre has a really great LED visualisation of the way armies surged and retreated across this vast swathe of land. Which is pleasant enough now, driving down the tourist track in our rental car…but then?
Pause, and you might hear a twig snap underfoot of a blue-coated soldier as he reconnoitres the land. It could also be a squirrel, but when you’re lucky enough to be as alone in a National park as we were, anything is possible…right?
Our relaxing post-wedding 36 hours in Saratoga also took us to the Monument, which stands at the site where British soldiers, their wives and children retreated and camped, and finally surrendered. Not as famous as the battle of Yorktown, this however was the turning point of the US revolutionary war – France and Spain sent ships and aid, and the US ‘experiment’ gathered momentum. It also took us into a winery (oops, hic) and past General Schuyler’s house, which was sadly closed, but we did do a bit of peeking around the outside…
The world burned and turn’d upside down then, but there is nothing but crickets and silence now.