On October 9th, 1777, Nathaniel Bacheller, a militia adjutant from New Hampshire, wrote a letter to his wife, Suzanna. It was discovered by historians when it appeared on the auction site eBay this past winter and was sold to an unknown buyer for $2,925. A digital copy was downloaded and a transcript of the letter was made before it went to join the buyer’s private collection.
What the letter holds is a first-hand, historically unbiased account of the conversations, command decisions and field actions of General Horatio Gates and General Benedict Arnold during the ongoing 1777 Battle of Saratoga.
The letter is an account which runs opposed to previously held narratives which paint Arnold as being reckless and insubordinate on the battlefield while Gates remained in his headquarters letting others do the fighting.
One reason for that difference, it was written before Benedict Arnold attempted to betray the revolutionary army at West Point and defected from the new nation in 1780.
On Sunday, August 18 at 1 pm the Old Stone Fort Museum will host Saratoga National Battlefield Park Ranger Eric Schnitzer for a lecture on how the letter changed what we know about one the most pivotal battles of the American Revolution and one of its most controversial figures, General Benedict Arnold.
Admission to the lecture is $5 for adults and free for students and Schoharie County Historical Society members. Refreshments will be provided by the Schoharie-Leatherstocking Chapter, SAR.
The Old Stone Fort Museum Complex is located in the village of Schoharie at 145 Fort Road, off NY State Rt. 30, 2.5 miles south of Interstate 88 Exit 23.
For more information on the 2019 Lecture Series and other events, contact the museum at (518) 295-7192 or visit their website.
Engraving of Benedict Arnold by H.B. Hall.