By 1777, two years after the start of the War for American Independence, Britain was ready for the war’s end. Hoping to finish the war before the patriots gained foreign aid, the British Army enacted a plan by General John Burgoyne to put an end to war for good. His plan revolved around cutting America in two to separate the perceived rebellious New England from the rest of the colonies. From there the British could deal with New England and in theory defeat the heart of the rebellion as well.
So in order to cut off New England, Burgoyne decided that New York, specifically Albany, needed to be captured. Burgoyne devised a three pronged attack into New York to divide patriot forces and make Albany less defended. General St. Ledger would march from the west, General Howe would march North from British held New York City and Burgoyne would lead 10,000 men from Canada down the Hudson River into Albany. By July 1777, Burgoyne’s men had already taken Fort Ticonderoga and had achieved victory over patriot forces at the Battle of Hubbarton.
Problems soon plagued Burgoyne’s plan as Burgoyne soon found himself alone in taking Albany. Howe ha decided that his troops would be better utilized in taking Philadelphia and St. Ledger fell back after his Native American allies abandoned him at Fort Stanwix. Burgoyne was further hurt when 800 of his German Auxiliary troops were defeated at Bennington, New York, with his Native Allies leaving soon after. Despite these setbacks, Burgoyne resolved to continue to push for Albany rather than head back for the winter.
Set to meet Burgoyne were 9000 patriot troops under General Horatio Gates and Benedict Arnold. Making their main camp at Albany the set up defensive works slightly north of Stillwater and were ready for the British Attack.
The British Army was first met by patriot forces on Sept 17th at Freeman’s Farm, a loyalist farm just north of the Patriot defenses. Burgoyne's forces would take the field when German reinforcements arrived late in the battle but Burgoyne had suffered heavy casualties. He decided to make camp and wait for potential reinforcements before proceeding any further. While he waited, the patriot army grew as word of there successes at Freeman’s Farm spread. When it became apparent that there were no reinforcements coming, in October Burgoyne decided he needed to move forward. His army, reduced to under 7000 men was now about to take on about 13000 patriot troops.
On October 7th a 1500 man reconassaince party was attacked at Bemis Heights by the 13000 man army and the British were forced to retreat. The American’s then pushed forward striking at the British defensive positions. They took a major British position at Breymann’s Redoubt, which gave the patriots the ability to get behind the British positions. This forced the British to retreat to the Great Redoubt, their headquarters, in Saratoga.
Losing most of his officers and much of his army, Burgoyne had no options but to surrender to General Gates on Oct 17th, 1777. This was not only a crushing defeat that reversed low American moral, but it was a turning point in the War itself. The French, realizing that the Americans could hold there own, decided to join the war on the patriots side. Spain and Holland would soon own in too, turning the American War for Independence into a World War. All of that occurred because of the patriot victory at Saratoga. Finally it is here that the wounded men of this astounding victory were tended to.
"The Battle of Saratoga." The Battle of Saratoga. Accessed March 28, 2016. http://battle1777.saratoga.org/.
United States. National Park Service. "History & Culture." National Parks Service. Accessed March 28, 2016. https://www.nps.gov/sara/learn/historyculture/index.htm.
Wikipedia. Accessed March 28, 2016. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battles_of_Saratoga#Second_Saratoga:_Battle_of_Bemis_Heights_.28October_7.