The Battle Of Saratoga Research Paper


The Battle of Saratoga was not one of the bloodiest battles for Americans, but it was considered one of the most important battles of the whole Revolutionary War. The Battle of Saratoga started in July 1777, but they did not start fighting until September 17, 1777, when the first conflict happened (Nardo 4). The battle was the first major battle that the Americans won, and it was a big turning point in the Revolution (Vierow 24). The Battle of Saratoga, also known as the turning point of the war, was very important because the British were trying to take the Hudson River and end the war. The Americans fought very well and won the war and then gained an alliance with France (Nardo 37). General Burgoyne was stationed in Canada, he was the General that fought for the British in the revolutionary war. He got notice that he was supposed to lead an army of 7,800 troops and cut the colonists off from their supplies from the Hudson River. The battle strategy of trying to take the Hudson River was made by George German Lord who was the Secretary of State in the Colonies. He directed many of the attacks for the British army and decided to do a three-way attack and meet in New York (“Battles of Saratoga”). General William Howe and Lieutenant General Henry Clinton were the other two leaders attacking places nearby. The plan was if any needed reinforcement the other would come and give back up (Vierow 6). With his plan set he set off with his troops, some Canadian, some German, but mainly British. He set off on foot with all their weapons towards a small town called Saratoga. When the colonists had heard that the British were coming towards Saratoga, they decided to cut down trees and destroy bridges to slow the British down (11). It ended up working with the British slowing over a mile a day from the destruction they would be forced to go around trees and make new bridges for their cannons (Nardo 5). By the time the British arrived on September 10, 1777, the colonists had gathered 15,000 troops doubling the British in manpower (16). The British decided to set camp on the outskirts of Saratoga by a rural farm called Freeman Farm (25). The British are up early in the morning, and Burgoyne decides to take advantage of the fog and dark sky to take the position and take over Freeman Farm. Little did they know General Horatio Gates the general for the Americans had already sent men there to guard. He had sent a group called Morgan’s riflemen, and they had set up in hidden positions ready to snipe the oncoming British (26) The unknowing had walked straight into a slaughterhouse out of nowhere the rifleman started taking down man after man. The British tried to retreat but the rifleman kept coming and shooting, then they retreated after reaching British lines (27). They then sent part of the army to rush lines and push them back off Freeman Farm. They had no luck, but then General Benedict Arnold of the American Militia came running through the ranks and pushed the British back a little. Later an American soldier repeated what he had heard General Arnold say and do, “Riding in the front of the lines his eyes flashing, pointing with his sword … with a voice that rang clear as trumpet and electrified the line inspiring the troops.” The troops were very motivated and fought, but they were outnumbered and even with Arnold’s heroics he was not able to break the British line and had to retreat (Vierow 12). At the end of the day, the British had control of most of Freeman Farm but considered it an American victory. The British lost 600 men, Americans only had 350 casualties, both armies returned to camp to tend to their wounded or to rest (13). After the Battle, the British were beginning to think that they were outnumbered and would need back up. He sent a messenger to the nearby battalion that was led by General Henry Clinton. Therefore, when he heard back Clinton said they would move from their position to help. It took Clinton two weeks to start moving when they got attacked, so they could not help. By then The British army was suffering from the cold, low food rations, and their horses died from starvation (“Saratoga”). On the other hand, the Americans gained 3,000, cannons, supplies, and more food. The morale for the Americans was sky-high while the British were in very bad condition (Vierow 14). While they were waiting for another battle the American General Benjamin Lincoln had troops attack at a strategic point between Lake Champlain and Lake George. His troops captured 243 Redcoats, freed one hundred American prisoners, and destroyed British supplies. He also disrupted the line between Burgoyne and Canada. Many of the Native American scouts deserted Burgoyne after Being threatened by American rifles (“Saratoga”). After the British could wait no longer, they only had two choices left with no reinforcements, one retreat or two attacks. Burgoyne's officers begged him and told him to retreat, they said their men were tired and to let this battle go. Burgoyne let his overconfidence get to him and Burgoyne bet that he would be eating Christmas dinner in his destination in Albany (“Saratoga”). Burgoyne got his unhappy troops ready and sent 1,600 men to find a weak spot in the American lines. This was the second Battle of Saratoga and was the battle of Bemis Heights. Americans figured out what the small detachment was doing and attacked the small group (“Saratoga”). They then sent two battalions to attack the Americans on the hill, not only did the Americans defend they then went on the attack. The army attacked General Rediesels battalion, and Morgan's riflemen flanked Fraser’s battalion and shot General Fraser, killing him (Nardo 32). Somehow Riedel’s Germans begin to regroup and push the Americans backward. Benedict Arnold was not going to let the Americans lose and rode through the ranks helping the American morale (34). While helping the Americans and boosting morale, he got shot. He then said, “Do not hurt him. He only did his duty.” It showed that General Benedict Arnold was a fair man and a kind man, that even with so much pain inflicted he made sure his officers did not kill a poor injured man. Then slowly both groups moved back and darkness fell The British lost 600 with countless more injured and the Americans only had 130 casualties total (35). 

Later after the battle Buygoyne saw that there were only two options left, make a run for it or surrender. Both opinions he hated and knew that he did not complete the plan of splitting the colonies in half. The morale of the battle was poor, most of the soldiers sad from a loss of a friend or hurting from their injury (Vierow 18). They became even more sad and angry when General Burgoyne said all men had to go northwards in the morning for a retreat. Gates thought ahead and had put many continentals and minutemen blocking both sides of the Hudson River taking away any chance the British had at escaping (Nardo 37). Finally, after British General John Burgoyne saw that he had no hope at escaping, and they were not ready for a battle he decided to talk to General Gates about terms of surrender. Gates declared them as prisoners of war and that meant that they had to stack their weapons by the river and walk out with nothing. When General Burgoyne told his troops, they were very angry and said “They would rather die than accept such dishonorable conditions” (Vierow 24). They saw this as very humiliating and refused to so Burgoyne told General Gates what his troops said. Gates eventually agreed that they could leave with their weapons, They would leave and then hand the weapons to their officers who would give the Americans the weapons. On October 17, 1777, the Americans officially won the Battle of Saratoga (Nardo 38). Although the battle only lasted a total of four months long, it was very important because of the size of the surrender, the outlook they now saw, and they gained very important allies with France. The war was thought to have been lost on the British side for lack of planning, leadership, reinforcements, and John Burgoyne’s recklessness. The Battle of Saratoga is also sometimes called the turning point of the war because the British had not lost a major battle up until the Battle of Saratoga. The Americans now knew how, and that they could beat the British in the war (“Battles of Saratoga”). The Americans now with the French help and some training believed for the first time that they could win the war.

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