Saratoga National Historical Park this week unveiled its newest display â a painstakingly researched and constructed overview model of Saratoga Battlefield put together by a man who was first inspired by the parkâs story as a visiting fifth-grader in the 1960s.
The story of this new map began over four decades ago. Dave Calhoun, then a fifth grade student, visited the park and saw an old overview model of the battlefield. Seeing that map and touring the park planted a seed of interest in him. That seed took root and began to manifest as a love of history, painting miniatures, creating terrain models, and Saratoga Battlefield.
That seed grew and flowered many years later. Thanks to Calhounâs painstaking research and expertise in model making, the park visitor center has received a brand new relief map of Saratoga Battlefield. Taking a birdsâ eye view, this new model promises visitors an unprecedented perspective on the locations of both American and British armies during the Battle of Saratoga, âthe most important battle of the last 1000 yearsâ according to New York Times Magazine.
Geography was critical to the Americansâ control of the Hudson River Valley in the autumn of 1777. Formidable American defenses on a ridge called Bemis Heights provided a stranglehold on the river and nearby river road, the planned route of a southward invading British army. Those defensive works forced that British army to make a westward detour that sparked the September 19th and October 7th fighting in the Battles of Saratoga. The uncontested American victory on October 17th bolstered American morale and convinced France, a long-time adversary of England, to join the war on the side of the United States.
Calhoun noted in correspondence with park officials that he found the process of building this new diorama to be âvery rewardingâ¦at so many different levels,â and very much an excursion down memory lane.
Saratoga National Historical Park is pleased to be able to recognize his contribution to its visitor center, as well as the lifelong love of history that grew out of a fifth graderâs curiosity and wonder.