The Patriot Resource - American Revolution

Battle of Saratoga
Battle of Saratoga

Burgoyne's Offensive Begins: June 1777
Because of Maj. General Guy Carleton's previous preparations during the winter of 1776 and his complete cooperation with Maj. General John Burgoyne, it took only about six weeks to make preparations. The six weeks were spent gathering supplies and moving troops down to St. Johns, Canada on the northern (lower) end of Lake Champlain. On June 20, 1777, Burgoyne's expedition set out in full military review before Carleton, who remained behind in Canada with 3,770 troops. On that same day, he issued a proclamation that only served to alienate all the populace.

General Burgoyne's force of 9,000 men included 3,000 Germans under Maj. General Friedrich von Riedesel on the left wing, which was covered by 400 Indians. 150 Canadians and 100 Tories screened the right wing. The scarce number of Indians, Canadians and Tories were all a sore disappointment. Burgoyne had expected each to have turned out in large numbers out of loyalty to Britain and the Crown. Burgoyne's expedition had nine ships, twenty-eight gunboats and bateaux. He also had 138 guns manned by 250 British artillery regulars, 150 British infantry and 100 Germans.

The Situation at Fort Ticonderoga: June 1777
General Burgoyne arrived at Crown Point on June 27, 1777 and made his approach to Fort Ticonderoga on June 30. Fort Ticonderoga had been in rebel control since its capture by Ethan Allen and Benedict Arnold on May 10, 1775. Ticonderoga's current Continental Commander, Maj. General Horatio Gates, was embroiled in politics. Gates had successfully maneuvered himself into an independent command of Ticonderoga on March 25, 1777.

However in May, the Continental Congress had reversed itself and placed Ticonderoga back in the Northern Department under the overall command of Maj. General Philip Schuyler. General Gates was given the choice of remaining at Ticonderoga as Schuyler's second-in-command in the Department or resume his duties in the main army as General George Washington's Adjutant General. Gates had then decided to personally protest before Congress and had left Ticonderoga in early June. On June 12, 1777, Maj. General Arthur St. Clair assumed command of the 2,546 Continental troops at Ticonderoga as Gates departed. Gates was addressing his grievances to Congress on June 17, just as Burgoyne was about to depart.

It had long been discussed by American military leaders that the site of the old French fort at Ticonderoga on the western side of Lake Champlain was indefensible without large numbers of troops. It had been argued that defense of only Mt. Independence on the eastern side of Lake Champlain was much more feasible. However , no politician or general would order the abandonment of Ft. Ticonderoga because of its established symbolism as the Gibraltar of America.

To the southwest of Ft. Ticonderoga stood Mt. Defiance, an 800-foot hill that had never been manned, though some suggested that artillery mounted there could threaten Ticonderoga's main defenses. General St. Clair had only one-fifth of the number of men needed to adequately defend the current fortifications, let alone spare anyone to secure Mt. Defiance. On June 20, 1777, General Schuyler in conference with St. Clair and Brig. Generals Mattias Fermoy, Johnn Patterson and Enoch Poor had decided that Fort Ticonderoga was to be held as long as possible and then withdraw and hold Mt. Independence.

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