Infant son, Captain Zebulon Bidwell

Eileen P. Driscoll – Infant son, Captain Zebulon Bidwell (1743-77)



This is a rare marker for an infant, in this case for the son of Capt. Zebolon Bidwell (1743 – 1777) and his wife Mary.  The Bidwells were among the original landowning proprietor families of the town.

Killed at Stillwater, NY in 1777, this marker is the only recognition in town of a Revolutionary War hero of the Northern Army and the Battle of Saratoga, a pivotal event of our war for independence.

Having a strategy to divide and isolate the New England colonies from those of the more sympathetic south, British General John Burgoyne led an invasion army of some 11,000 men of the Royal army south from Canada to take control of the upper Hudson River Valley. He planned to hook up with British troops under the command of General Sir Henry Clinton invading up from New York City, but they never arrived.

Thus, Burgoyne was on his own to face the Continental Army  under the command of General Horatio Gates.  Additionally Generals Benedict Arnold and Israel Putnam, were sent to aid Gates by General Washington. They were in command of reinforcements consisting of  Colonel Daniel Morgan and his Riflemen, famous as sharp-shooters, and two Connecticut militia under the command of Brigadier General Enoch Poor of the New Hampshire colony. Capt. Bidwell was among these militiamen from Connecticut.

On September 19, 1777, the Royal Army advanced in three separate columns upon the Continental Army camp within the adjoining towns of Stillwater and Saratoga. It was during the first battle in Stillwater that Capt. Bidwell lost his life. Upon losing many men in a 2nd battle, Burgoyne and his exhausted troops took refuge in a fortified camp on the heights of Saratoga.

However, surrounded by an overwhelming force of American troops that had grown to nearly 20,000 men, Burgoyne surrendered on October 17th, within a month of his initial advance.

Burgoyne lost over 1,000 men in the two battles, including some of his top commanders, compared to about 500 killed and wounded of the Continental Army.

The British retreated back to Quebec finding that the rebel Americans would fight bravely and effectively.  A British officer was quoted saying:

The courage and obstinacy with which the Americans fought were the astonishment of everyone, and we now became fully convinced that they are not that contemptible enemy we had hither-to imagined them, incapable of standing a regular engagement, or only able to fight behind strong and powerful works.”

A decisive victory, the Battles of Saratoga and Stillwater were pivotal to the success of this country’s Revolutionary War for Independence.