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.
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 Fold3.com!