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Battle of Saratoga

History -- Military history -- List of battles -- History of United States -- History of England

The Battle of Saratoga was probably the most important battle of the American Revolution. A force of roughly 10,000 men -- mostly British regulars -- under General "Gentleman Johnny" Burgoyne had advanced from French Canada in the summer of 1777 with the intention of taking Albany, New York and cutting New England off from the rest of the colonies by seizing control of the Hudson River Valley. In the spring of 1777, the British took colonial forts at Crown Point and Ticonderoga. However, a successful colonial delaying action of systematically blocking roads, destroying bridges, and harassing the British with sniper fire slowed the British advance beyond the southern ends of Lakes Champlain and George to a few kilometers a day. Burgoyne's force was eventually blocked by colonial regular soldiers and militia under General Israel Putnam in the area north of the Hudson Valley town of Saratoga. Over the course of the summer of 1777, the colonial force grew to roughly 15,000 men.

The British lost an important battle near Bennington, Vermont in July and were blocked from advancing down the Connecticut River valley instead of the Hudson River Valley. An attempt by the British to advance on Albany down the Mohawk River[?] Valley was blocked by a successful colonial defense of Fort Stanwix[?] near present day Rome, New York.

The British attempted to move on Saratoga on September 19, 1777. A day long fight over a clearing in the woods resulted, and is known as the Battle of Freeman's Farm. Unable to advance on September 19th, the British built fortifications near Bemis Heights[?] and on October 11th attempted again to advance on Saratoga. They were defeated by colonial forces led by Benedict Arnold and Anthony Wayne. At the end of the day, the British were driven from their fortifications.

The British force then retreated a few kilometers north where their retreat was blocked by colonial forces. Surrounded and badly outnumbered, 60 km South of Fort Ticonderoga, with supplies dwindling, and winter not far off, Burgoyne had little option. He surrendered on October 17, 1777.

Burgoyne's troops were disarmed and returned to England under the condition that they engage in no further conflict with the colonies. Burgoyne himself was sent back to England in disgrace. The news that an entire British Army had been not only defeated, but captured with all its weapons, gave the revolutionists great credibility. France, in particular, threw its support behind the Revolution. Years later, French military and naval forces played a key roll in the capitulation of a second British Army at the Battle of Yorktown and the end of the war. External link The Saratoga National Historial Park web site (http://www.nps.gov/sara/)

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