The Battle of Saratoga: Turning Point of the American Revolution


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The Battle of Saratoga is considered to be the major turning point of the
American Revolution. This battle proved to the world that the fledgling
American army was an effective fighting force capable of defeating the
highly trained British forces in a major confrontation. As a result of this
successful battle, the European powers took interest in the cause of the
Americans and began to support them.

In the British Campaign of 1777, Major General Burgoyne planned a
concentric advance of three columns to meet in Albany, New York. He led the
main column, which moved southward along the Hudson River. A second column
under General Barry St. Leger would serve as a diversionary attack, moving
eastward from Canada along the Mohawk River. General Howe would be expected
to direct the third element of the attack. According to the plan, Howe
would direct General Henry Clinton to move northward along the Hudson River
and link up with Burgoyne in Albany. The goal of this plan was to isolate
and destroy the Continental forces of New England.

Initially, the British plan appeared to be working. Burgoyne's army
continually pushed back the Americans southward along the Hudson River with
only minor casualties. In an attempt to slow the British advances, the
American General Philip Schuyler detached 1000 men under the command of
Major General Benedict Arnold. This force moved west to thwart St. Leger's
eastward advance along the Mohawk River. Arnold returned with his
detachment after repelling St. Leger in time to serve in the Battle of
Saratoga.

First Battle of Saratoga: The Battle of Freeman's Farm

The Battle of Freeman's Farm, the First Battle of Saratoga, was an
indecisive battle fought 19 September 1777 in which Gates lost ground to
the British Disagreements in tactics and personalities led to a heated
argument between generals Gates and Arnold, and Gates relieved Arnold of
command as a result. The Battle of Bemis Heights was the second battle of
Saratoga, taking place October 7th when Burgoyne desperately attacked rebel
defenses with his tired, demoralized army.

At Bemis Heights, Gate's defensive tactics had insured a tactical victory
for the Patriots. However, Arnold saw an opportunity to seize the offensive
while Burgoyne was vulnerable and led a counterattack. This bold move so
badly wounded the British forces that Burgoyne surrendered days later at
Saratoga.

Second Battle of Saratoga: The Battle of Bemis Heights

After waiting several weeks for developments from General Henry Clinton's
campaign along the Hudson River, British commander Lieutenant General John
Burgoyne finally took the offensive on 7 October 1777. Like the First
Battle of Saratoga, his plan focused upon a reconnaissance in force of

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three columns.

The three British columns moved out from their Freeman's Farm
fortifications in order to gain more information about the rebel positions
at Bemis Heights. American General Horatio Gates, assumed to be acting upon
the suggestion of Colonel Daniel Morgan, decided to assault the British
forces in a three winged attack. With Morgan's Rifle Corps attacking from
the west and Poor's Brigade from the east, Learned's Continental Brigade
moved towards the center of the British line.

The attack began at roughly 3 PM, and the Americans repeatedly broke
through the British line and pushed the enemy back, only to be repelled
once the British leaders rallied their scattered forces to stage a counter-
offensive. British Brigadier General Simon Fraser was mortally wounded
while attempting to cover the British withdrawal.

Benedict Arnold, who had been removed from command by Gates, saw an
opportunity to press the advantage of the weakened British line and rode
forward on his horse to take charge of Learned's Continental Brigade. He
led them towards the center of the British forces in an effort to separate
the units and flank them, forcing a general withdrawal of the British
forces into their fortified positions at Freeman's Farm.

At that point, Arnold led Learned's men to attack the British fortified in
Balcarres Redoubt. After several failed attempts to overcome the defenses
there, Arnold urged his horse northwest across the battlefield to join an
assault on Breymann Redoubt. With superior numbers on their side, the
Americans were able to breach the breastworks of the redoubt and force the
British forces out.


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