Battle of Bemis Heights, (Second Battle of Saratoga) October 7, 1777
The Battle of Saratoga consisted of two major battles between colonists and imperial forces during the American Revolution. After a generally unsuccessful year, the Continental Army needed a meaningful victory and it was at this location that colonial forces captured an entire British army. The victory boosted morale and led to an alliance with France.
Backstory and Context
During the British campaign to separate New England from the rest of the colonies, General John Burgoyne successfully regained Crown Point and Ticonderoga, at the cost of nearly 1000 men. Realizing the threat Burgoyne's army posed, General Horatio Gates, resorted to delaying tactics to slow the British approach. General Gates fought the whole Battle of Saratoga from his headquarters and General Burgoyne in the front lines. At the battle of Freeman if not for the consent urging of Benedict Arnold to Gates to send reinforcements to aid Morgan the British would have had a great victory. The leadership of Arnold at Freeman Farm lead to a stalemate until the German reinforcements (Hessian) arrived for the British just before sunset and drove the Americans from the field of battle. (3)
Upon learning of the attack on Bemis Heights several of Gates’ generals had to convince him to send a strong force to counter it. The battle was close and when a British officer named Fraser rallied the British troops, the Americans almost lost the battle. A marksman from Morgan’s rifles hit Fraser and with that shot the British resolve to fight collapsed. After the Battle of Bemis Heights, the Americans stormed the British redoubts at Freeman Farm and forced Burgoyne to attempt to retreat, but Gates surrounded the British before they could flee. Left with no other option, Burgoyne was forced to surrender his army. The two battles of Saratoga resulted in a much-needed victory for the Continental Army. The stunning American victory also had the secondary benefit of securing an alliance with France. (4)
1. http://www.nps.gov/sara/historyculture/index.htm 2. http://www.ushistory.org/us/11g.asp 3. http://battle1777.saratoga.org/
(3) Ward, Christopher. The War of the Revolution. New York, York, Skyhorse Publishing, 2011.
(4) Ketchum, Richard. Saratoga: Turning Point of America’s Revolutionary War. New York, York, Henry Holt and Company, Inc., 1997.