NPS Saratoga National Park
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  • 202. Wilkinson Trail Kids' Tour - Station B

    A trail marker post labeled Station B, Wilkinson Trail.


    [Sounds of a crackling campfire.]

    It is September, 1777.  There are a great many people in General Burgoyne’s camp, over seven thousand I am told.  One of my duties as a camp follower is helping soldiers with day-to-day life.  As they struggle to end the American Rebellion, we camp followers clean soldiers’ laundry, [sounds of hand-washing laundry] mend their torn clothing, get water and firewood, and help take care of the sick.  Often times, the men in my father’s regiment go days or even weeks without a proper washing.  I then have to wash the dirty clothing of many men in the nearest stream.  I often wish we were back in Ireland, where I only had to wash clothes for my landlord and his family. 

    When it comes to food, I am grateful General Burgoyne allows some of the daily rations to be given to camp followers.  Sadly, we are only given a quarter pound of salted beef or pork and a quarter pound of flour each day.  The meat is so salty, and usually fatty and filled with bones, (pause) and sometimes has insects.  It is often difficult to eat! 

    Sometimes there is so little food, even for the soldiers in my father’s regiment, [sounds of birds chirping] we camp followers have to steal food from nearby farms and fields.  We take wheat, corn, potatoes, turnips, whatever we can find.  Mother always taught me it is wrong to steal, but steal we must if we are to eat.

    [Sounds of a horse riding by.]

    As a gentleman volunteer with the Royal Artillery, I must help prepare my men for battle.  We practice for hours each day so the cannon crews [sound of a cannon blast] know what to do in battle.  Like other gentleman volunteers, [some indistinct orders in the background] I am sometimes assigned to Guard Duty.  Many of the volunteers believe it is beneath their status.  [Sounds of a horse-drawn wagon passing by.] But a general order was issued saying we must take part in it.  I personally find nothing wrong with the job.  I am glad, however, I am able to dine with the officers.  The food we eat is so much better than what the regular soldiers, or even the camp followers, receive. 

    [End of wagon passing, bird chirping.]