´╗┐It all began when the Colonials had failed to invade Canada, a result from the spread of Smallpox and the British were near by (coming through the Lake Champlain Valley). There was still some glints of hope from the American victories in the Battle of Princeton and the Battle of Trenton, but that wasn't enough to have a promising future. Also, the British Navy had just been given permission to fire anywhere on the eastern seaboard if they thought necessary. Since the British saw their advantage, they a devised a plan to split into two armies and travel by ships from Canada into New York and unite there. Their goal was to capture Albany, New York because it was one of the centers of navigation for the Hudson River and they already controlled New York City, making them believe that if the two places were ruled by the British, then they ruled the entire river. More importantly, the British commander General John Burgoyne, thought that if the Hudson River was conquered, then the rebellious New England area was seperated from the other colonies. After Burgoyne's victory at Fort Ticonderoga he had very bad luck. This included 1,000 of his men being killed or taken hostage at the Battle of Bennington (making him lose his Native American allies) and General Howe decided to try to capture Philadelphia, rather than meet and join forces with Burgoyne. On the other hand, the Americans did have an increase in soldiers enlisted (because of the murder of Jane McCrea) and General Benedict Arnold was recruited by American Commander, Horatio Gates. On September 19, 1777 the British had split into three groups: General Fraser's 2,000 men, General Hamilton's 1,100 men, and a similarly sized group controlled by Baron van Riedesel. They all made their first advance at 10 AM, after the fog had risen. Benedict Arnold realized that the British were moving towards them, and requested the allowance for the Americans to advance. General Gates was known for his experience, but only on a battlefield. He was a traditional soldier, more and more unlike the colonial "gorilla warfare". Therefore, General Gates wanted to let the British come to them. But, Gates finally gave Benedict Arnold permission to give the command to move ahead. Daniel Morgan and Henry Dearborn were the leaders of the American group that advanced. The main American army that had not advanced was at Bemis Heights (10 miles south of Saratoga) and the Americans that moved forward were 4 miles north of Saratoga, at the farm of a loyalist named John Freeman. Daniel Morgan's men charged and pushed back the British soldiers that had been moving towards them. Gates then sent more regiments to assist them. The men had retreated to the woods, and attacked the British from the sides. The Americans had surprised the British to such an extent that they thought Burgoyne had been shot (which wasn't true). Eventually, it became dark outside and the Americans left while the British stayed on the field. This closing of the Battle of Freeman's Farm resulted in almost 600 British casualties, and only the death of 600 Americans.
Time quickly passed by as both sides tried to resupply for the next battle, that presumably would occur at some point. The British had hoped that General Henry Clinton would come to aid them, but he did not. Benedict Arnold was removed from command by General Gates, and one of the empty positions was given to General Lincoln. Also, 1,200 men of Commander Broeck would assist Lincoln's soldiers. Around two o'clock on October 7th, fires were shot close by at Bemis Heights. The geography where the battle began was ineffective for the British, because it was such open land that their shots were inaccurate. The Americans had a chance to weaken the British largely when Major Acland led a bayonet charge, and the colonists could fire at close range. General Fraser and the Canadian and Native American allies outnumbered General Morgan, but Morgan had been able to seperate the groups. This left that British force vulnerable, and yet another American advantage. Also, the Americans had been able to keep the British from retreating west. A lapse then took place after an hour of war. In those 60 minutes, 400 British had been killed and 6 of their artillery pieces were taken. The action began again when Benedict Arnold defied orders and went out onto the battlefield. He lead the attack on the Hessians that were the defendors of the British camp. By the time Arnold was captured by the men of General Gates (they were not cronies) to be taken back to the American base, the British were outnumbered 3 to 1. After the Battle of Freeman's Farm and the Battle of Bemis Heights, the General Burgoyne had lost about 1,000 men, which included some of his finest leaders. The Americans had 500 killed or wounded soliders. He tried to retreat, but by October 13th he was surrounded at Saratoga. On October 17th, 1777 General Burgoyne surrendered to the Americans. King Louis XVI of France, heard of the American victory and this made him decide to aid the Americans in the rest of the war.Test your knowledge........
  • General Gates and General Arnold were the top commenders of the Battle of Saratoga for the Americans. Did they like each other? Did they have similar military techniques and strategies?
  • In certain situations, the difference between losing a battle and surrending is huge. Did the British lose or surrender? Why do you think this happened?
  • Why was the Battle of Saratoga such an important victory for the Americans? (Hint: Whose alliance did they gain afterwards?)