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Ldot Vets - The American Revolution 1775-1783

The Battle of Saratoga

October 13, 1777

General Burgoyne continued southward, even as his options and support began to crumble. On September 13th, he crossed the Hudson, heading towards Albany. He was down to 6,500 troops. Waiting for Burgoyne was American General Gates with 7,000 men. Gates was entrenched in Bemis Heights, and Burgoyne elected to attack. Burgoyne sent 2,000 men under General Fraser on a flanking movement to the west, and then towards the American line. The main attack was to take place by General Hamilton's forces in the center, and a third attack was to proceed straight down the river road. Burgoyne was handicapped by his limited knowledge of American positions. Early in morning of the 19th of September, the British troops set off. The Americans became aware of the British movements and, at the insistence of Arnold, Gates agreed to send a force out from the fortification to determine British intentions. Thus, in a clearing near Freeman's Farm, the battle developed. First, Morganos riflemen ran into Fraser's left flank, cutting them down. They were in turn decimated by part of Hamilton's brigade. Thus it went for most of the day, with piecemeal parts of the American and British forces being thrown at each other. At the end of the day, however, the Americans still held the Heights, and the British had lost 600 killed, wounded or captured. Time was not on Burgoyne's side, with the nights getting longer and colder, food beginning to run low, and no option of local foraging. He had lost his Native American scouts, and the ranks of the American forces were swelling every day. Finally, in a desperate move to break out, Burgoyne sent 1,500 of his men on an attack on the western flank of the American forces. They were immediately attacked by Morgan's men, and a general British retreat soon ensued. The Americans were not content with driving the British back, and soon a force under Arnold was attacking a section of the British defensive lines known as the Horseshoe. After a fierce fight, it was captured. Burgoyne's position thus became untenable and, that night, he pulled his forces back toward Saratoga, leaving behind his wounded and much of his supplies, and losing another 600 men. Once he arrived in Saratoga, it became clear that he would not be able to sustain his position. Gates had followed him, and soon had him surrounded. On October 12th, Burgoyne called a council of war with his officers, which unanimously agreed that there was no choice but to surrender. The next day, Burgoyne asked for terms, to which the parties agreed, and Burgyone surrendered. One quarter of the British troops in North America had been captured. The effects were far reaching, for the American victory had convinced the other European powers that an American victory was possible, and aid was soon forthcoming.

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