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Battle Of Saratoga

September 19, 1777

Bemis Heights, New York


In December General Burgoyne concerted with the British ministry a plan for the campaign of 1777. A large force under his command was to go to Albany by way of Lakes Champlain and George, while another body, under Sir Henry Clinton, advanced up the Hudson. Simultaneously, Colonel Barry St. Leger was to make a diversion, by way of Oswego, on the Mohawk river. In pursuance of this plan, Burgoyne, in June began his advance with one of the best-equipped armies that had ever left the shores of England. Proceeding up Lake Champlain, he easily forced the evacuation of Crown Point, Ticonderoga, and Fort Anne. But, instead of availing himself of the water-carriage of Lake George, at the head of which there was a direct road to Fort Edward, he advanced upon that work by land, consuming three weeks in cutting a road through the woods and building bridges over swamps. This gave time for Schuyler to gather the yeomanry together, and for Washington to re-enforce that general with troops, under Morgan, from the southern department. Burgoyne also lost valuable time and received a fatal check by his disastrous attack on Bennington.

At length, finding his progress stopped by the entrenchments of Gates at Bemus's heights, nine miles south of Saratoga (Schuylerville), he endeavored to extricate himself from his perilous position by fighting. Two battles were fought, on nearly the same ground, on 19 September and 7 October. The first was indecisive; the second resulted in so complete a rout for the British that, leaving his sick and wounded to the compassion of Gates, Burgoyne retreated to Saratoga. Here, finding that his provisions were giving out, Stark in his rear, and that there was no chance of escape, he capitulated with his entire army, 17 October 1777.

This event was the turning-point in the American revolution. It secured the French alliance, and lifted the clouds of moral and financial gloom that had settled upon the hearts of the leaders, even the hopeful Washington. Burgoyne, until his unfortunate campaign, stood very high in his profession. -- Edited Appleton's American Biography Image Copyright© 2001 by VirtualologyTM


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