Battle of Saratoga

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Battles of Saratoga
Missing image

Arnold at Saratoga
ConflictRevolutionary War
DateSeptember 19-October 17, 1777
PlaceSaratoga County, New York
ResultDecisive American victory
British United States
John Burgoyne Horatio Gates
10,000 15,000
1,600 killed, wounded and missing
6,000 surrendered
800 killed, wounded and missing

The Battles of Saratoga are considered, by many historians, to have been the turning point of the American Revolutionary War and one of the most decisive battles in history. A force of roughly 10,000 men—mostly British regulars—under General "Gentleman Johnny" Burgoyne had advanced from French Canada in the summer of 1777 with the intention of taking Albany, New York and cutting New England off from the rest of the colonies by seizing control of the Hudson River Valley. In the spring of 1777, the British took colonial forts at Crown Point and Ticonderoga. The Americans retreated. However, a successful colonial delaying action comprising the systematic blocking of roads, destruction of bridges, and harassment of British troops with sniper fire slowed the British advance beyond the southern ends of Lakes Champlain and George to a few kilometers a day. Burgoyne's force was eventually blocked by colonial regular soldiers and militia under General Horatio Gates in the area north of the Hudson Valley town of Saratoga. Over the course of the summer of 1777, the colonial force grew to roughly 15,000 men.

Missing image
Plan of battlefield of Battle of Saratoga and views of John Neilson's House from south, east and inside that served as the headquarters for the Generals Enoch Poor an Benedict Arnold.


The British lost an important battle near Bennington, Vermont in July and were blocked from advancing down the Connecticut River valley instead of the Hudson River Valley. An attempt by the British to advance on Albany down the Mohawk River Valley was blocked by a successful colonial defense of Fort Stanwix near present day Rome, New York.

The Battle

Battle of Freeman's Farm

Main article: Battle of Freeman's Farm

The Battles of Saratoga consisted of two engagements; the first of these being the Battle of Freeman's Farm. The British were advancing on Saratoga and on September 19, they ran into American forces in a clearing in the woods at Freeman's Farm. General Benedict Arnold, commanding the left wing of the American forces, ordered Colonel Daniel Morgan to assault the British while they were still advancing through the woods in separate columns. Morgan charged recklessly into General Simon Fraser's column and inflicted severe casualties before being forced back across the field. Arnold sent forward the brigades of Gen. Enoch Poor and Gen. Ebenezer Learned to support Morgan. Burgoyne sent forward James Inglis Hamilton and Fraser to attack the Americans across the field. Arnold's reinforced line repulsed the British attack with heavy losses. Arnold was angered at the American commander Horatio Gates for not sending in reinforcements to break the British lines and by the end of the battle the British had repulsed one last attack from the Americans and Arnold was relieved of command. Although they had to relinquish the field, the Americans had halted Burgoyne's advance and inflicted losses the British could not afford. Burgoyne built redoubts and fortified his current position. Two miles to the south the Americans also built fortifications.

Battle of Bemis Heights

Main article: Battle of Bemis Heights

The second and final engagement of the Battles of Saratoga was known as the Battle of Bemis Heights which took place on October 7. Even though the British had suffered greatly at the Battle of Freeman's Farm and Gates had been receiving reinforcements since then, Burgoyne made plans to assault the American lines in three columns and drive them from the field. The main assault would be made by the Brunswickers under General Major General Riedesel against the American forces on Bemis Heights. General Benjamin Lincoln now commanded the division of Poor's and Learned's brigades positioned on Bemis Heights. Burgoyne's attack started early in the morning. Holding their fire until the Hessians were within range, Poor's brigade devastated the first attack and routed the survivors in a counter attack. Morgan attacked and routed the Canadian infantry and began to engage Fraser's British regulars. Fraser began to rally his division and at that crucial moment Benedict Arnold arrived on the field and ordered Morgan to shoot down Fraser. One of Morgan's sharpshooters fired and mortally wounded Fraser. Arnold who had been relieved at Freeman's Farm had no actual command. However when the firing began he ignored Gates and rode to the front. After finishing on Morgan's front, Arnold next rode to Learned's brigade. Learned's men, facing the Hessian assault, were beginning to falter. Again at the crucial moment Arnold arrived and rallied the Americans. Then with Arnold and Learned in the lead the Americans counter-attacked. By now Poor and Morgan were closing in on either side of the Hessians and their front gave way. The British retreated to their original positions. Arnold next led Learned's men in an assault on the Hessian redoubt. Here Arnold fell wounded, yet the Americans took the redoubt. Before being carried off the field, Arnold tried to bring forward another brigade, but a messenger sent by Gates finally caught up to Arnold and he was removed as darkness fell over the field.

Burgoyne's Surrender

The British force then retreated a few kilometers north where their retreat was blocked by colonial forces, under the command of General Horatio Gates. Surrounded and badly outnumbered, 60 km south of Fort Ticonderoga, with supplies dwindling and winter not far off, Burgoyne had little option. He surrendered on October 17, 1777.


Burgoyne's troops were disarmed and should have been paroled (returned to Britain on the condition that they engage in no further conflict with the colonies), a common 18th century military practice. Instead, the American Congress refused to ratify the "convention" (the document detailing the terms of surrender agreed to by Gates and Burgoyne). Though some of the British and German officers were eventually exchanged for captured American officers, most of the enlisted men in the "Convention Army," as it became known, were held captive in camps in New England, Virginia, and Pennsylvania until the end of the war. Burgoyne himself was sent back to England in disgrace. The news that an entire British Army had been not only defeated, but captured with all its weapons, gave the revolutionists great credibility. France, in particular, threw its support behind the Revolution. Years later, French military and naval forces played a key role in the capitulation of a second British Army at the Battle of Yorktown and the end of the war.


External links

pl:Bitwa pod Saratogą


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