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Facts about the Battles of Saratoga for Kids


The Battles of Saratoga (September 19 and October 7, 1777) marked the climax of the Saratoga campaign giving a decisive victory to the Americans over the British in the American Revolutionary War. British General John Burgoyne led a large invasion army up the Champlain Valley from Canada, hoping to meet a similar force marching northward from New York City; the southern force never arrived, and Burgoyne was surrounded by American forces in upstate New York.

  • His surrender, says historian Edmund Morgan, “was a great turning point of the war, because it won for Americans the foreign assistance which was the last element needed for victory.
  • He won a small tactical victory over General Horatio Gates and the Continental Army in the September 19 Battle of Freeman’s Farm at the cost of significant casualties.
  • His gains were erased when he again attacked the Americans in the October 7 Battle of Bemis Heights and the Americans captured a portion of the British defenses.
  • British General Sir Henry Clinton, moving up from New York City, attempted to divert American attention by capturing two forts in the Hudson River highlands on October 6, His efforts were too late to help Burgoyne.
  • Aware that Burgoyne was also moving, he took some risks in July and sent aid north in the form of Major General Benedict Arnold, his most aggressive field commander, and Major General Benjamin Lincoln, a Massachusetts man noted for his influence with the New England militia.
  • The American camp had become a bed of festering intrigue ever since Arnold’s return from Fort Stanwix.
  • Gates had assigned the left wing of the defenses to Arnold, and assumed command himself of the right, which was nominally assigned to General Lincoln, whom Gates had detached in August with some troops to harass the British positions behind Burgoyne’s army.
  • Learning that Morgan was in trouble, Gates ordered out two more regiments (1st and 3rd New Hampshire) to support him, with additional regiments (2nd New York, 4th New York, the 1st Canadian, and Connecticut militia) from the brigade of Enoch Poor to follow.
  • However, John Luzader, a former park historian at the Saratoga National Historical Park, carefully documents the evolution of this story and believes it is without foundation in contemporary materials, and that Arnold remained at Gates’ headquarters, receiving news and dispatching orders through messengers.
  • As escort the generals took Fraser’s Advanced Corps, with light troops and the 24th Foot on the right and the combined British grenadiers on the left, and a force drawn from all the German regiments in the army in the center.