The Patriot Resource - American Revolution

Battle of Saratoga
Battle of Saratoga

Battle at Bemis Heights: October 7, 1777
Maj. General John Burgoyne now ordered his force to entrench around Freeman's Farm. He was waiting for Lt. General Sir Henry Clinton, who was supposedly preparing to leave New York City and march north to Albany. Burgoyne waited for three weeks, but Clinton did not come. Burgoyne was now once again low on supplies and facing an American army that was growing in numbers. He could wait no longer. He had to choose to either retreat or engage General Gates.

On October 7, General Burgoyne sent a British force of 1,500 to test the American left flank. The Americans responded to the British movement with three columns under Colonel Daniel Morgan, Maj. General Ebenezer Learned, and Maj. General Enoch Poor, and attacked at about 3 P.M. The British line was repeatedly broken, but rallied again and again.

After Brig. General Simon Fraser was mortally wounded trying to rally his men to cover a withdrawal, Maj. General Benedict Arnold rode onto the field. He and Maj. General Horatio Gates had earlier quarrelled and had been relieved of command. However, he now led General Learned's column against the British center held by the German troops. The Germans joined the withdrawal.

Within an hour of the beginning of the battle, the British were forced to fall back to their fortifications around Freeman's Farm. The Americans now believed that victory was theirs, but the British heavy entrenchments proved difficult to overwhelm. After failing to overrun one redoubt, General Arnold led the attack on another that was manned by Germans. Here, he succeeded, but received a wound in the leg.

Fighting only ceased when darkness fell. The darkness had saved General Burgoyne from defeat. During the night, he left campfires burning and withdrew to a large redoubt. He had suffered 1,000 casualties to only 500 for the Americans. The following night he retreated to fortifications at Saratoga, New York, where the American force, which now numbered 20,000 surrounded the British force of 6,000.

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