This is simply a fantastic book, both in terms of writing and content. I thoroughly enjoyed it from the moment I started reading until the moment I put it down. It takes you through the Mohawk Valley from 1713-1794 and details the major ethinic groups and individuals that lived and competed in the area.
I was primarily interested in the French and Indian War for this area, but I was riveted with the American War of Independence sections as well. The area was involved with the Saratoga Campaign which is one of the events that I have previously researched.
I had always wondered what “Palatine Germans” were when reading about events here and now I know. The interplay between the different ethnic groups is clearly defined and explained in the book against the back drop of two wars and many events. You leave the book knowing why events happened here and with a detailed account of the major battles as well. The writing is very well done and captures your interest from the outset.
By 1713 the Mohawk Valley was home to Palatine Germans, Dutch, English, Scots, Irish, New Englanders, Mohawk, Oneida, Onondaga, Cayuga, Seneca, and Tuscarora. Each of these groups intermarried and related to the others through trade and travel. It’s during this time that the Iroquois League denigrates and New York becomes more than a backwater.
Can’t recommend it enough, get this book if you are interested in the FIW!
SARATOGA: A Military History of the Decisive Campaign of the American Revolution by John F. Luzander is quite simply the best book on the campaign that I have come across. It reads very easy and goes into just the right amount of detail that it’s useful but doesn’t bog down the story.
I finally understand EXACTLY what happened at Bennington. I have read the story of this battle from at least five different authors and never really felt that I could describe the action to someone else.
The author uses a great deal of haughty language in the early chapters and I wish I had some at hand to include here. By the middle of the book the need for a dictionary to help understand what should be a simple description goes away completely.
My least favorite parts of the book are the detailed chapters on the conflict between Burgoyne and the British power structure and the infighting in the Patriot command. This is no fault of the authors, it’s just that I personally don’t really care.
The factors in play on the forces involved are clearly explained and the battle are masterfully explained in the perfect amount of detail. After reading the book, I finally was able to construct scenarios by myself. Previously I had to rely on others’ understanding of events to figure out how to add flavor to the games.
If you only get one book on the campaign, this is it.
This weekend I was going to the Lake George area with my family for a family get away. I made sure to add a precondition that if we went that close to Saratoga we had to drop by the battlefield. So the kids turned out to be to skinny to play at the waterpark for long and that meant that it was time to head to Saratoga National Historic Park on Sunday. It only opened April 1st and we visited on April fifth, so I was quite lucky it was even open, Ticonderoga doesn’t open for another 2 months.
We showed up and found this charming soda machine at the entrance to the visitor’s center. Any long time readers will know that my wife is English, and while she has lived in the states for 7 years now, she will always be English. Now, she can tell you all about Roman roads and a little about the Beatles, but she’s fairly un-knowledgeable about the rest of her countries history, especially the colonialism/repression parts. I asked her to stand in front of the soda machine and this is the picture that I got for my troubles.
Once inside the visitor’s center, I was promptly informed that the driving road in the park is closed due to downed trees from a recent ice storm. Aaaarrgghhh! What are the chances? The “good” news is that it will be open by April 11th. I’m not sure when I will make it down here again. A trip to the store involves hours of planning and split second timing for us to accomplish with the three young ones. Oh well, must make the most of it.
They did have a few nice things inside here. The first is an electronic map of the battlefield and an audio presentation that goes with it. I really enjoyed it. Here’s a couple of pictures showing the lights. They move to different p0ints on the field. Quite nice.
They had a room with things that might be interesting for children drug along to the museum. One of them was a small display of a fortification and some playmobile-esk type guys to position around a cannon.
The younger me would have loved it just as much as the older me.
I will post more pictures from the visitor’s center in another post as they all don’t require explanation.
So the driving track is out of commission, “You can still walk the area”, you say? Well, I would have loved to, but it was past nap time and the walking trail isn’t conducive to strollers (we did try!). Here is the reason I wasn’t able to walk to the Balcaras Redoubt.
The only thing I could see from the Visitor’s Center. It was in the distance tempting me.
I will return someday to take better pictures. But even with my limited access I enjoyed myself, it would take a lot for me not to. What are the odds that the driving path would be blocked when I was there. I’d be more upset if I lived more than 4 hours away.
Now that the April Fools is through, on with business.
I just posted the newest scenario in the downloads section. It’s a simple little Hubbardton scenario. The battle was fairly staight forward and so is the scenario.
I would like to make a plea for feedback on these scenarios. Even something as simple as spelling/grammar errors. I don’t think it’s to much to ask to drop a quick comment on this post if you like/dislike them or anything really. If there isn’t any feedback soon, I will stop posting them due to lack of interest.
I have created the first two of my eventual Saratoga Campaign scenarios. You can find them at the downloads page. Please go there and check them out. Download as much as you like.
I would only ask that if you either enjoy them or have a suggestion, please leave a comment here to that effect. I am putting these up as a litmus for my next three scenarios. I’d hate to write more if there is something I could do better.
I thought I would take this opportunity to pop up some of the online resources that I have found that are great for Saratoga Campaign
Perry Miniatures – You have to select AWI Articles in the drop box at the top and you will find “simply the best ever” wargamer’s reference for the British troops and German Troops in the Saratoga Campaign.
Saratoga Order of Battle – From the magweb, a great reference to start with. Lot’s of painting and numbers info for you.
These few things should get you pretty far with the campaign really. Of all of them, the Perry site is really unrivalled as a resource for gamers. I look forward to when they cover the US forces (if they plan to).