American Revolutionary War Victories of Saratoga and Yorktown Annual Celebration

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.

October 28, 2018 Saint Paul's Chapel Churchyard Ceremony

This forthcoming October 28, 2018, starting at 2:00 PM, the Lower Manhattan Historical Association will celebrate the American Revolutionary War Victories of Saratoga and Yorktown in historic Trinity Church Cemetery, the resting place of American Revolutionary War heroes:

  • General Horatio Gates; 
  • Colonel Marinus Willett; and 
  • Alexander Hamilton.​ 
As in previous years our Commemoration will also serve as a celebration of the origins of the French-American alliance. This year, however, we will for the first time be celebrating the lives and contributions to the Continental Army and the nascent American Republic of three Frenchmen; specifically:

  •  Stephen Rochefontaine (born Étienne Nicolas Marie Béchet, Sieur de Rochefontaine February 20, 1755 Ay, Marne France; died January 30, 1814 New York City); a French-born military engineer who served in the Continental Army, during the American Revolutionary War, later appointed by George Washington as Chief of Engineers (26 February 1795 - 7 May 1798) of the United States Army Corps of Engineers. His monument, restored some twenty years ago through contributions made by the French Army Corps of Engineers - the "Génie militaire,” rests within the Saint Paul’s graveyard;
  • Pierre Charles L’Enfant, the French architect best known for creating the master plan for the new capital of the Republic (the city of Washington, D.C.) as well as other important works including sections of the exterior and interior decoration of Saint Paul’s Chapel; and
  • Jean-Jacques Caffieri, a notable French sculptor who designed the General Richard Montgomery Monument (made of marble from the French Pyrenees) on the east porch of St. Paul’s, facing Broadway.
The celebration will commence at 2:00 PM on the West Portico of Saint Paul’s Chapel, facing the Liberty Tower. Assembly will be at 1:30. In the event of inclement weather the ceremony will be held in the Chapel of All Saints at Trinity Church Wall Street (see Access Maps).

[Press Release] Saint Paul's Chapel & Chapel of All Saints at Trinity Church Wall Street [Access Maps]


French Regimental Standards at the Battle of Yorktown

Photo Album by Daniel Falgerho, courtesy of the Fédération des Anciens Combattants Français (the Federation of French War Veterans)

Photo Album by Rick Edwards

Military Mission of the Permanent Mission of France to the United Nations in New York Photo Album

Margaret S. Chin

New York City Council Member

District 1 – Manhattan

October 28, 2018

October 15, 2017 Trinity Church Cemetery Ceremony

On October 15, 2017 at 2:30 PM the Lower Manhattan Historical Association celebrated the American Revolutionary War Victories of Saratoga and Yorktown in historic Trinity Church Cemetery, the resting place of American Revolutionary War heroes General Horatio Gates, Colonel Marinus Willett and Alexander Hamilton. The Commemoration, which also serves as a celebration of the origins of the French-American alliance, was held on Sunday  two days before the 240th anniversary of the surrender by British General Gentleman Johnny Burgoyne of his 10,000 man force to American General Horatio Gates, the commanding general at the Battle of Saratoga, on October 17, 1777. 

[Press Release] [Program] [Photo Album] [Trinity Church Access Map]

[LMHA President Report to All]

Marking Lower Manhattan History: Saratoga, Yorktown Commemorations

By James S. Kaplan

The New York History Blog: October 2, 2017

French Regimental Standards at the Battle of Yorktown

October 15, 2016 Trinity Church Cemetery Ceremony

On October 15 2016 the Lower Manhattan Historical Association celebrated the 239th anniversaries of American Revolutionary War Victories of Saratoga and Yorktown. The ceremony featured the laying of memorial reefs at the graves of the celebrated Revolutionary War heroes General Horatio Gates, Colonel Marinus Willett and then Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Hamilton. The event also featured the first Annual Gates & Hamilton Award ceremony honoring Stephen J. Ryan, Commandant of The Veteran Corps of Artillery of the State of New York and featured notable honored guests including the Consul General of France in New York Anne-Claire Legendre, Manhattan Borough President Gale A. Brewer and Brigadier General Thierry Lion Military Adviser, Head of the Military Mission of the Permanent Mission of France to the United Nations in New York. Also participating were representatives of several distinguished American and French military and historical associations.

[Press Release] [Program] [Photo Album]

The Battle of Saratoga

Historical consensus defines the Battle of Saratoga, also known as the Battles of Saratoga (fought on September 19 and October 7, 1777), as the “turning point” of the American Revolutionary War of Independence. Here, in upstate New York, Continental Forces and local militia commanded by General Horatio Gates fought a large British force descending from Canada to cut off New England from the rest of the newly declare independent States. In a series of engagements the American Continentals repulsed and surrounded the British forces of General “Gentleman” Johnny Burgoyne forcing their surrender on October 17, 1777. This decisive victory, won without external assistance, defined the Continental Army as a credible threat to British sovereignty over their colonies and motivated Britain’s European rivals, notably France and Spain, to support the American revolutionary cause.

The Battle of Yorktown

The Battle of Yorktown, also known as the Siege of Yorktown, was the final stage of an ambitious campaign organized to combine the Continental Army's main body of troops commanded by General George Washington with the French expeditionary force marching from Newport Rhode Island and its supporting naval fleet (commanded by the Comte de Rochambeau and the Comte de Grasse respectively) with the goal of inflicting a decisive defeat on the largest British contingent operating in the theatre of war. Its success, marked by the capitulation of the British commander Lieutenant General Charles Cornwallis on October 19, 1781, effectively yielded the end of the Revolutionary War's formal, conventional military phase. The subsequent diplomatic phase of the conflict, leading to the British Crown finally recognizing the independence of the United States of America, was formalized through the Treaty of Paris signed on September 3, 1783 by representatives of the U.S., British and French Governments.

© 2017 Lower Manhattan Historical Association