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KU professor,Revolutionary War historian presents "Civilians in Wartime: The 1777 Saratoga Campaign" lecture

Nov. 7, 2012

KUTZTOWN, Pa - Nationally renowned historian and professor at Kutztown University, Dr. Michael P. Gabriel, will deliver the fall 2012 Chambliss Faculty Research Awards lecture on Thursday, Nov. 29 at 4:30 p.m. in the McFarland Student Union's Alumni Auditorium. The lecture is free and open to the public.

Dr. Gabriel will speak about "Civilians in Wartime: The 1777 Saratoga Campaign," based on research gathered for his book "The Battle of Bennington: Soldiers and Civilians."

Rather than focusing on soldiers, battles and tactics, Gabriel will discuss how civilians - Whigs, Loyalists or those who wished to remain neutral; males and females; young and old - were affected by the presence of two contending armies.  "On the 235th anniversary of the turning point of the American War for Independence, it is essential to remember that soldiers were not the campaign's only participants," he explained.  

"Civilians caught in the path of war had two choices -remain at home or flee out of harm's way.  Those who stayed faced the possibility of encountering one or both armies, including British General John Burgoyne's dreaded German and Native American allies, who caused a profound fear among civilians, regardless of political affiliations.  Those who fled had to decide where to go and what to do with their property," he said. "Civilians also faced disease and possible retaliation from either Whig or Loyalist neighbors.  Many women were forced to deal with these difficulties without the presence of their husbands or fathers, while some males believed that they faced forced conscription." 

Dr. Gabriel's research also includes children who experienced the Saratoga Campaign. "They offer a unique perspective on this historic event," he said.

Gabriel utilizes diaries, pension depositions, and the findings of Dr. Asa Fitch (1803 -1879), a Salem, NY-native, who interviewed numerous Washington County residents to determine what life was like during the Revolutionary era.