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The Battles of Saratoga: October 7, 1777

The Battles of Saratoga were two battles, fought 18 days apart in 1777, and are considered a turning point in the Revolutionary War. When they were over, British Gen. John Burgoyne and his army of nearly 6,000 surrendered. As a result, France recognized America’s independence and entered the war as an American ally.

Fold3 Image - Gen. Burgoyne surrenders his troops at the Battle of Saratoga
The British strategy was a three-pronged approach meant to cut off New England from the Southern colonies. Burgoyne would march his army (that consisted of British soldiers, Hessian soldiers, and Native American scouts) south from Canada. He would then rendezvous with two additional British armies led by Barry St. Leger and Sir William Howe. Those armies never showed up.

Barry St. Leger’s army was turned back by forces led by Benedict Arnold; while William Howe decided to use his army to attack the Patriot capital of Philadelphia. That left Burgoyne’s troops alone to contend with the Continental Army. Emboldened by his success at capturing Fort Ticonderoga, Burgoyne continued down the Hudson River Valley.

As Burgoyne’s troops approached the John Freeman farm in upstate New York, the Northern Department of the Continental Army led by Gen. Horatio Gates, along with Benedict Arnold, were waiting (just two years later Benedict Arnold would enter secret negotiations with the British).

On September 19th, the two armies engaged at Freeman’s farm. Fierce fighting led to casualties on both sides, though British casualties numbered twice that of the Continental Army. Still, the British held their ground.

Burgoyne pulled back to regroup. He was running low on supplies and was still waiting for troop reinforcements that never arrived. In the meantime, the Continental Army came in from behind and cut off the British supply lines. On October 7th, a second battle known as the Second Battle of Freeman’s farm or the Battle of Bemis Heights was fought.

British and Continental armies engaged in heavy fighting. Colonists were strengthened by a fresh brigade led by Brig. Gen. Benedict Arnold. The Continental Army surrounded overwhelmed British troops who later negotiated a surrender under the Convention of Saratoga. The Convention required British troops to lay down their weapons and return to Great Britain with the condition they not serve in North America during the rest of the war.

The Battles of Saratoga were the impetus for the French to enter the war. France recognized America’s cause and provided financial and military assistance. If you would like to learn more about the Battles of Saratoga or other Revolutionary War battles, search our Revolutionary War collection on!


  1. LB Armstrong says:

    One of my grandfathers, Jacob Bartholomew, was an artificer at Bemis Heights. I feel almost certain he was there with his son, John, who was barely a teen and who went on to fight in the War of 1812. What amazes me is the ability of the militias of western NY and larger New England, to get where they needed to be in time. Hundreds of miles travelled…it’s one of the most difficult things to figure out…how one guy could be in many locations throughout the war. Then you remember how long it lasted. Still, amazing. Thanks for the big picture.

    • D McGlathery says:

      Hello LB Armstrong,
      Was John father of Ann Bartholomew, who married Thomas Davis?
      Thank you,

  2. Barbara Wood-Negron says:

    This was very informative. I had two grandfathers who fought during the Revolution. Both from New York Morris Barto was at Valley Forge and Ebenezer Wood (4X great grandfather) was a Wagon Master for the Continental Army. I to feel it is amazing when you think of it how we managed to win a war with very few professional soldiers. To quote Ebenezer

    After the war he was paid for his services to the Continental Army. After the war the British were floating counterfeit money in an attempt to collapse the echoey. My grandfather Ebenezer built a bond fire and burned the money he received. His wife was upset as they could have used the money as they had a very large family. She questioned him why did he burn the money. He replied if our own government can’t tell what is real or fake how can I. I received what I fought for, my freedom and I am satisfied.

    Ebenezer Wood was the Sherif of Rockland County NY. His son my 3X great grandfather Captain Benjiman Wood fought in the War of 1812.

  3. Peekskill youth Isaac Conklin 1753-1840 the captain of a Hudson River sloop Clinton was asked by General Putnam to convey the gunpowder General Gates and Arnold needed to fight Burgoyne at the Battles of Saratoga .
    Fighting gales and eluding British gunships Captain Conklin was able to reach Albany in time to supply the army with the “necessary” General Gates who on learning the circumstances , exclaimed “the country may regard that youth as our deliverer from a disgraceful defeat”
    This information was revealed in his obituary: Printed:

    From the Westchester and Putnam Republican;
    Peekskill Tues Sept 15, 1840

  4. June Lloyd says:

    The majority of those prisoners never returned to Europe until the Revolutionary War was officially over in the spring of 1783. Congress didn’t think Gates brokered very good deal by proposing to let them return home, thus freeing other British soldiers to come fight the Americans. So they were marched from one prisoner of war camp to another for the next five and a half years, first to Massachusetts, then Maryland and Virginia. When the war heated up in Virginia in 1781, those that remained were sent to Lancaster, York and Reading, Pennsylvania. The British rank and file of the Convention Troops were housed at Camp Security, just east of York, Pennsylvania from the summer of 1781 until spring 1783. They were joined there in early 1782 by British prisoners captured at Yorktown, Virginia a few months earlier. Camp Security is the last remaining Revolutionary War prisoner of war camp that has not been developed over. I has been preserved through the efforts of government bodies, private and public foundations and individuals.

    • Ron Geesey says:

      My 4 x great grandfather Abraham Miller was a guard at Camp Security, a young man born in York County PA in 1762.

    • Tim Firebrace says:

      Fewer than 800 of the 6000 survived the appalling conditions in which they were held, including forced winter marches without adequate food or clothing. When Congress repudiated the truce agreement it had no plans at all for adequately looking after so many prisoners. This shameful episode is glossed over in most histories and online resources.

    • T. M. Davis says:

      As shameful as the decaying prison ships anchored by the British in NYC harbor for years. Very few Americans survived those.

  5. Mike Ewald Dunham says:

    My GG4X PVT George Snell Hayes(NH) was at the Battle of Saratoga and very honored along with everyone else to have a GG serve at the Battle of Saratoga!! SAR member and George Snell Hayes application approved years ago.

  6. John Francis Wilson says:

    My historical novel based on the life of Colonel Jonathan Latimer has recently been published. Col. Latimer led Connecticut Militia troops at Saratoga and his contributions have not been properly recognized. The book, “Colonel Jonathan–An American Story” is available via the usual on-line book sellers.

  7. Kevin Durkin says:

    My GG4x (Benedict Arnold Law) was Benedict Arnold’s cousin.
    It was a family name that goes back to Governor Benedict Arnold, Royal governor of Rhode Island after Roger Williams. 1648

  8. David Ross says:

    My GGG Grandfather – John Ross served in the 53rd Regiment of Foot under Burgoyne and was taken, prisoner. When released, opted to stay in what is now Canada. His Wife ”Catherine Morrison”, born in what was call Tryon County in New York State. She was the daughter of Hector Morrison who lands were confiscated as he was loyal to King George. A fascinating indeed.

    • HELENE COTE says:

      My GGGG Father – Samuel Perry, has been mustered with 46 of his own men à McCLelland’ s Mills by Captain Campbell of 29th regiment, 24 august 1777. They jointed Edward Jessup’s Company à Point Claire et fought at Saratoga (very closed to his home). Second battle, he was taken prisonner. Escaped in 1778 to Canada. Estate confiscated, he has been proscribed and banished. Was an adresser of Sir Henry Clinton.
      Main sources : BAC/LAC (Library and Archives Canada), British Archives (in the Surrey), the Minutes of the Commissioners for Detecting and Defeating conspiracies in the State of New York, Wilton History.

  9. Denny Smith says:

    Nice article by MS. Ashcraft. I do think that the references to “The Continental
    Army” would seem to imply that there were no State Militia involved. But we do know that various militias from New York, Vermont, New Hampshire (others?) all together provided the real strength of forces against Burgoyne. Two of my Davis ancestors (Thomas & Thomas II) were with one of the NH Militias at Saratoga.

    • T. M. Davis says:

      Would you know if your Davis ancestors trace back to a Dolar/Dolor Davis and Margery Willard Davis who came to Cambridge, Mass. in 1634/35 from Kent County, England, and eventually settled in Barnstable, Barnstable County, Cape Cod. I may be a descendant of theirs through their son John and a grandson or great-grandson Nathan who married an Elizabeth Phinney.

  10. Barry Foster says:

    For those who say their grandfathers served in the AWI over 235 years ago must come from very long lived families. My own paternal grandfather served in the Boer war in 1901 and in the 1914-1919 Great War. He was born 1n 1884, still 101 years after the AWI ended.

  11. Herman L. Miller says:

    My father said my GGG grandfather, Debrix, or Deborax Miller was a lieutenant killed in one of the battles at Saratoga. Is there any way to confirm this? His home was in Delaware.

  12. S. Rogers says:

    Try – fold3 military records.

  13. T. M. Davis says:

    I believe a 6th great uncle, Capt. Jacob Hager led a company of troops from Schoharie County southwest of Albany at Bemis Heights. He led a company throughout the Revolution as part of the 15th N.Y. assigned with at least 2 or 3 other companies and occasional Continental units to protecting the Schoharie Valley from three forts along the Schoharie Creek, Upper, Middle and Lower Fort. Schoharie was apparently a major wheat growing region and provided much wheat to the Continental Army. Many British/Tory/Indian excursions into the valley terrorized the descendants of the 1711 Palatinate German settlement of the Schoharie/Mohawk Valleys. A major attack in Oct. 1780 destroyed many of the farms, including several of my various
    German ancestor families, including the Mattices. 5th Great-grandpa Hendrick Hager warned a fort of an attack during St. Leger’s push. He was Capt. Hager’s elderly father and was captured late in the war when he was about 80 and held for a year until peace came.

  14. John Holmes says:

    I understand my GGG Grandfather William Holme served under Burgoyne during the Revolutionary War, and was a Master Gunnery Sergeant, but I am unsure of the Regiment in which he served.
    He never returned to his native Yorkshire in the North of England, but was presumed to have been killed before the Revoltionary War was over.
    Are there records held in the USA which might assist me to trace details of him at all.

  15. Donna Blair says:

    In reply to John Holmes question to find out information about ancestor service in revolution. Yes. Several ways. National Archives of our gov keeps records back even then. There should be a record of any pay & pension records. Also go to your local library and request info to contact your local Daughters of the American Revolution chapter. There might be a member in it who also traces back to this patriot. Also there is a book published by national headquarters of DAR called PATRIOT INDEX which lists every person proved to have served in Revolution.
    First census of USA was in 1790. He should be in it. I am a 30 year member of DAR with 3 proved lines already. Am working on papers to prove lineage to 5 more. Good luck in your quest!! Your local library should have a copy of PATRIOT INDEX.

    • T. M. Davis says:

      Since Mr. Holmes’ ancestor was a British soldier his records would not be in patriot records. If he didn’t die in the battles he may have been ong the thousands held prisoner for the rest of the war, with many dying in captivity. Not sure what the source of records, if any, for those prisoners. A few British troops, and more Hessians, decided to stay in America seeing greater opportunity here to become landowners or they had met an American woman.

    • John Holmes says:

      Thank you TM, you make a good point, and I may need to do more research in the UK before looking at US records.
      Thank you kindly.

    • John Holmes says:

      Many thanks Donna.
      This gives me a good idea where I need to look.
      Kindest regards.

    • MS Chilton says:

      Does the DAR Patriot Index have ALL Revolutionary War Patriots or just the ones that have descendants who have documented their ancestors service and also documented their descent from that Patriot???

    • Julienne Hammill says:

      Mr. Holme’s ancestor was British, that information would not be part of the DAR and SAR Patriot Ancestors of the United States. I have one 4th great grandfather who was a Hessian Trooper according to his debarkation information. He surrendered after several years of service to the British, was quartered in Maryland close to a German contingent, married one of the daughters, lived there for several years then went into the Ohio Frontier with his wife and a few of their children. That one record is all I have been able to find after over 20 years of searching and I found that on my own, no hint from ancestry way back when. Of course there is no record of a pension because he was not on the side of the Revolutionaries. Also pensions were only given in cases of destitution and then they were drawn out till the petitioner was either dead or had one foot in the grave and the other on a banana peel. Also Militia Men were not treated as well as those in the Continental Army after the Revolution.

  16. Nancy Novak says:

    I grew up in Schuylerville, NY, the location of General Phillip Schuyler’s summer home. It is located on the Hudson River just a few miles north of the Saratoga Battlefield. My maternal ancestors have lived in this area since the 1700s. My 4x great-grandparents, Charles Moore (1741-1827)and Esther Bidwell (1750-1806), lived in Stillwater, NY just a few miles south of the battlefield during the revolution. Charles’ sister, Tryphena Moore, was married to Jotham Bemis. They had a farm and tavern at Bemis Heights. Charles and his brothers and Esther’s brothers fought in the Battle of Saratoga. Seven of my ancestors fought in the American Revolution and I am a member of the DAR.

  17. LTC Charles L McNeely says:

    To all who have indicated an ancestor who participated in the Battles of Saratoga, as well as other Revolutionary War battles, you should consider joining the Sons and Daughters of the American Revolution. Yes, it sometimes does take some effort to establish your lineage but both organizations offer assistance in that regard.

  18. John Selsky says:

    While those battles were going on in New York, my 5th GG Captain Matthew Manlove was at the Battle of Brandywine, engaged by Gen. Howe, who didn’t show up to support Burgoyne but instead landed in Delaware in his quest to capture the Continental capital at Philadelphia. That battle was on September 11, 1777. Manlove was part of Col. Sam Patterson’s “Flying Camp” Battalion, part of Washington’s army at Brandywine, but, I believe, not part of the regular army but from the Delaware militia . Not directly related to the informative article and comments, but part of the context. I’d be interested to hear from anyone with any info on Matthew Manlove, other Revolutionary-era Manloves, or the Flying Camp Battalion.

  19. L M Young says:

    Major Peter Harwood served in Thomas Nixon’s Regiment, designated from 1779 on as the 6th Mass. Reg. Continental Army. The regiment saw action in the Saratoga campaign of 1777. I have Harwood’s hand written notebook with the 13 articles of surrender of Lt Genll Burgoine and his army (starts with article 3) and dated Camp Saratoga October ye 16th or 18th 1777. Notebook also includes “Evolutions” (battlefield maneuvers) and instructions for the officers of guards. All probably copied from some other officers manual (prior to Steuben). Possibly would show which manual Nixon’s reg. was using. No personal info in the notebook, on the same page the next entry dated 7/14/1778 White Plains he lists 6 men he lent money to.

  20. Donna Blair says:

    Reply to MS Chilton the Patriot Index only has info about patriots who have been proven to have served either by serving in the continental army or furnishing goods and supplies.
    If you are ever in DC the DAR has a beautiful national headquarters which is constantly being restored as it is in a historic building. The members keep this building up and provide funds for staff etc.

  21. Art says:

    My grandfather Patrick Lillis served under Benedict Arnold in 1777. He was originally from Kittery Maine. He served in the British army during the french and Indian war. He also took part in the capture of Fortress Louisbourg, Nova Scotia 1745. Patrick was killed at the age of 55 at Freeman’s Farm he died of wound September 23 1777.

    William his grandson was wounded multiple times during the Civil War serving with the NY 110 Infantry. Since then my family has served in the military or militia to this day and have served in every major conflcit. It boggles my mind that men of Patrick’s age where serving and surviving under the conditions of the day. These men were MEN.

  22. Susan Mowry says:

    My 5x great grandfather, Ephraim Woodworth Sr., was a Captain in the Albany Militia. His house was used by Gen. Gates as his headquarters during the time of this battle and his barn was used as a hospital. Remains of the house and barn have been located south of the roads leading to Bemis Heights,, Ballston and Saratoga (current routes 32 and 423). The property is now in the Saratoga National Historical Park. A thorough description can be found in the book “The Great Warpath: British Military Sites from Albany to Crown Point” by David R. Starbuck.

  23. I too had an ancestor who fought in these battles. Lt. Col. Ephraim Sawyer.

  24. […] October, 1777: The Battles of Saratoga (Documents) […]

  25. Bill Caracofe says:

    My 6x Great Grandfather Johannes Friederich Kirchoff was a Hessian under VonRiedesel, he was captured at Saratoga and after a winter encampment outside of Boston was sent to Virginia as a P.O.W. He was one of around 3500 Hessians who stayed to make a new start rather than return to live under Lords in Germany.