The Battle of Saratoga: A Brief History

The Battle of Saratoga is considered to be the major turning point of the American Revolution. This battle proved to the world that the fledgling American army was an effective fighting force capable of defeating the highly trained British forces in a major confrontation. As a result of this successful battle, the European powers took interest in the cause of the Americans and began to support them.

In the British Campaign of 1777, Major General Burgoyne planned a concentric advance of three columns to meet in Albany, New York. He led the main column, which moved southward along the Hudson River. A second column under General Barry St. Leger would serve as a diversionary attack, moving eastward from Canada along the Mohawk River. General Howe would be expected to direct the third element of the attack. According to the plan, Howe would direct General Henry Clinton to move northward along the Hudson River and link up with Burgoyne in Albany. The goal of this plan was to isolate and destroy the Continental forces of New England.

Initially, the British plan appeared to be working. Burgoyne's army continually pushed back the Americans southward along the Hudson River with only minor casualties. In an attempt to slow the British advances, the American General Philip Schuyler detached 1000 men under the command of Major General Benedict Arnold. This force moved west to thwart St. Leger's eastward advance along the Mohawk River. Arnold returned with his detachment after repelling St. Leger in time serve in the Battle of Saratoga.

The Battle of Freeman's Farm, the First Battle of Saratoga, was an indecisive battle fought 19 September 1777 in which Gates lost ground to the British. Disagreements in tactics and personalities led to a heated argument between generals Gates and Arnold, and Gates relieved Arnold of command as a result. The Battle of Bemis Heights was the second battle of Saratoga, taking place October 7th when Burgoyne desperately attacked rebel defenses with his tired, demoralized army. At Bemis Heights, Gate's defensive tactics had insured a tactical victory for the Patriots. However, Arnold saw an opportunity to seize the offensive while Burgoyne was vulnerable and led a counterattack. This bold move so badly wounded the British forces that Burgoyne surrendered days later at Saratoga.

 
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