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The Battles of Saratoga in upstate New York turned the tide of the Revolutionary War and gave America a fighting chance to become a nation. Not only did the campaign deplete British forces and stymie the British plan to divide and conquer, but it also encouraged key alliances, particularly with the French.
The First Battle of Saratoga: Battle of Freeman’s Farm
Gen. Horatio Gates’s Northern Department of the Continental Army faced off with British troops led by Gen. John Burgoyne just outside of Saratoga on Sept. 19, 1777. Gates’s goal was to stop the British from reaching Albany and whittle down the British forces. Burgoyne’s goal was to meet up with other British forces and push on to Albany. Burgoyne expected to be relieved by a British army from the south, led by Gen. William Howe. However, Howe had his eye on Pennsylvania. Because Howe took his troops from New York City to attack Philadelphia instead of heading north to Saratoga, Burgoyne did not receive the reinforcements he needed. Neither side could claim a clear victory after hours of fighting, but Burgoyne pushed the American forces back with his German and British forces.
- Technically, the British held the field, but they suffered much higher casualties than the Americans.
- Burgoyne and the British decided to hold their position and wait for reinforcements.
- The battle was named after the farm of Loyalist John Freeman.
The Second Battle of Saratoga: Battle of Bemis Heights
On Oct. 7, 1777, Burgoyne realized that reinforcements were not coming and he needed to take action on his own. He sent troops to attack the American position so his main force could retreat, but spies delivered this plan to the Continental Army before it could succeed, and the Americans attacked instead. Benedict Arnold led a charge that decimated the British defenders. The British attempted to retreat north, but the Americans had them outmaneuvered and outmanned. Soon, the Continental Army had the British Army pinned.
- Bemis Heights was the name of the American position the British tried to attack.
- There is a memorial at Saratoga to Benedict Arnold, who was shot in the leg, but it doesn’t bear his name.
- Heavy rain helped to slow the British retreat.
After more than a week of waiting in the rain and mud for help, Burgoyne surrendered to the Continental forces on Oct. 17, 1777. The Battles of Saratoga marked an important shift in the Revolutionary War and became one of the Continental Army’s greatest victories
- Three British armies were supposed to meet for the battle. Only Burgoyne’s made it.
- Saratoga gave the French enough faith in the American colonists to support their revolution.
- Battlefield at Saratoga: Learn more about the battlefield that hosted two of the most important battles of the Revolution.
- The Battles of Saratoga: Discover how earlier battles set the scene for the conflict at Saratoga.
- The Strategies of Saratoga: The British’s divide and conquer strategy saw a turning point during these battles, and it changed the course of the war.
- Battles of Saratoga Facts: Review the hard facts about these pivotal battles, including casualties, maps, and more.
- Jane McCrea: A highly publicized and controversial death might have fueled the American victory at Saratoga.
- Benedict Arnold: Hero of Saratoga: Benedict Arnold may have been the first great American traitor, but his wounded pride at the Battles of Saratoga set his treachery in motion.
- The Boot Monument: A monument at Saratoga Battlefield pays tribute to the heroism of Benedict Arnold, though it does not bear his name.
- Gen. John Burgoyne: Learn more about the British general and dramatist’s life before and after the war.
- Gen. Horatio Gates: Meet the leader of the American forces at the Battles of Saratoga.
- American Spy Was the True Hero of Saratoga: History is quick to forget the gray areas, but sometimes, it isn’t the obvious hero who wins the battle.
- William Howe’s Letter to Burgoyne: Read firsthand how the British miscalculated and lost at Saratoga.
- The Oneida Nation in the Revolutionary War: Vital allies who helped in several important battles, the Oneida Nation helped America become an independent nation.
- Colonial Saratoga: Life, death, and history in the making surrounded one of America’s most important battlefields.
- The Turning Point: Read how the Battles of Saratoga became the turning point of the Revolution.
- Battle of Freeman’s Farm: Discover the details of the first battle at Saratoga.
- Battle of Bemis Heights: Read how all of the struggles up to that point came to a head at Bemis Heights.
- Letters From Washington: Find out how Gen. George Washington reacted to the battles at Saratoga and what he had to say about the participants.
- Victory at Saratoga: Watch this video to learn the basics about the Battles of Saratoga.
- Saratoga Campaign: Read how the Army describes the battles and how these events are taught from a military perspective today.
- Eight Reasons Why the Battle of Saratoga Was Significant: This article breaks down the biggest effects of the British defeat at Saratoga.
- Why Did the British Lose the Battles of Saratoga? History is written by the victors, but what did the British do that cost them the victory?
- Newspaper Coverage of Saratoga: See what contemporary newspapers wrote about the Battles of Saratoga.
- Victory Impossible Without Schuyler’s Direction: Although this commander wasn’t the most famous leader of the campaign, his work proved invaluable.
- The Role of Women in Burgoyne’s Army: While they rarely saw the front lines, women made it possible to get as far as the British army did.
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