The Lower Manhattan Historical Association led the 7th Annual Saratoga-Yorktown Victories Commemoration on October 26, 2019, held this year at St. Paul’s Chapel in Lower Manhattan. The program honored several individuals buried in the Trinity Church parish who served in some of the most critical victories of the Revolutionary War, including Horatio Gates, Alexander Hamilton, Marinus Willett, and Étienne Nicolas Marie Béchet, Sieur de Rochefontaine. Also honored were Pierre Charles L’Enfant, Jean-Jacques Caffieri and Richard Montgomery.
Watch a video of the event below:
Each October the LMHA celebrates two of the Continental Army’s most decisive Revolutionary War victories, the battles of Saratoga and Yorktown. While other Continental Army victories, such as the siege of Boston, were essential to the final defeat of British forces and the recognition of United States of America as an independent, sovereign nation by the British Crown, Saratoga and Yorktown are indisputably considered to be the definitive turning points of the American Revolution in that both resulted in the surrender of significant British forces along with their commanding officers (on October 17, 1777 and October 19, 1781, respectively).
For the devotees of lower Manhattan history, these two battles hold special significance. Both General Horatio Gates, the commanding general at the Battle of Saratoga, and Alexander Hamilton, a key aide to General George Washington and the leader the climactic charge against redoubt 10 at the Battle of Yorktown, are buried at the site our ceremony in Trinity Churchyard. We note that while the grave of Alexander Hamilton, well known as the first Secretary of the United States Treasury and a key contributor to the Federalist Papers, has been known to patriots and historians from the day of his burial to the present, that Horatio Gates was left unmarked for almost 200 years; an omission addressed and remedied by the New York State Daughters of the American Revolution. This annual commemorative ceremony, led by the Lower Manhattan Historical Society and its sponsoring member organizations, addresses this gap in the understanding of our city’s contribution to the American Revolution cause. Also buried in Trinity Churchyard and dutifully honored as part of this ceremony is Marinus Willett, a critically important commander at the Battle of Fort Stanwix (a subsidiary battle to Saratoga and a very important post-Revolutionary War New York City politician).
Additionally, the Battle of Yorktown is symbolic of the United States of America’s oldest military alliance. Powerful French land forces, commanded by the Comte de Rochambeau, and an equally important and sizable French fleet, commanded by the Comte de Grasse, played a crucial role in the defeat and capitulation of the British army commanded by Lieutenant General Charles Cornwallis. As such, the celebration of this great victory offers us the opportunity to commemorate our friendship with United States of America’s first ally by hosting representatives of the French military and the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Participating institutions included: