The Second Battle of Saratoga: The Battle of Bemis Heights

After waiting several weeks for developments from General Henry Clinton's campaign along the Hudson River, British commander Lieutenant General John Burgoyne finally took the offensive on 7 October 1777. Like the First Battle of Saratoga, his plan focused upon a reconnaissance in force of three columns.

The three British columns moved out from their Freeman's Farm fortifications in order to gain more information about the rebel positions at Bemis Heights. American General Horatio Gates, assumed to be acting upon the suggestion of Colonel Daniel Morgan, decided to assault the British forces in a three winged attack. With Morgan's Rifle Corps attacking from the west and Poor's Brigade from the east, Learned's Continental Brigade moved towards the center of the British line.

The attack began at roughly 3 PM, and the Americans repeatedly broke through the British line and pushed the enemy back, only to be repelled once the British leaders rallied their scattered forces to stage a counter-offensive. British Brigadier General Simon Fraser was mortally wounded while attempting to cover the British withdrawal.

Benedict Arnold, who had been removed from command by Gates, saw an opportunity to press the advantage of the weakened British line and rode forward on his horse to take charge of Learned's Continental Brigade. He led them towards the center of the British forces in an effort to separate the units and flank them, forcing a general withdrawal of the British forces into their fortified positions at Freeman's Farm.

At that point, Arnold led Learned's men to attack the British fortified in Balcarres Redoubt. After several failed attempts to overcome the defenses there, Arnold urged his horse northwest across the battlefield to join an assault on Breymann Redoubt. With superior numbers on their side, the Americans were able to breach the breastworks of the redoubt and force the British forces to withdraw to the Great Redoubt, their final line of defense, as night fell.

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