American Victory at Saratoga
On October 17, 1777, British General John Burgoyne surrendered his 5,000 British and Hessian troops to American General Horatio Gates at Saratoga, New York. This was the first large-scale surrender of British forces in the Revolutionary War and immeasurably bolstered the American cause. After word of the victory reached France, King Louis XVI agreed to recognize the independence of the United States. Arrangements were also made for the French to begin providing formal aid to the American war effort.
General John Burgoyne (Left) and General Horatio Gates (Right).
In the summer of 1777, General Burgoyne led an army of 8,000 men south through New York. He intended to join forces with British General Sir William Howe’s troops along the Hudson River. Burgoyne captured several forts along the way and camped near Saratoga. A larger American army Under General Gates gathered four miles away from the British position. These forces clashed on September 19 at the Battle of Freeman’s Farm, also remembered as the First Battle of Saratoga. Burgoyne’s troops were forced to retreat after they failed to break the American lines.
The Battle of Freeman's Farm. (Photo: britishbattles.com)
On October 7, Burgoyne launched another attack. This assault was repulsed by an American force under the command of General Benedict Arnold in the Battle of Bemis Heights, also referred to as the Second Battle of Saratoga.
Benedict Arnold leading American troops on October 7, 1777. (Photo: britishbattles.com)
Burgoyne and his 5,000 surviving troops were forced to retreat north to the village of Saratoga. By October 13, around 20,000 Americans had surrounded the British. Four days later, General Burgoyne was forced to surrender his army.
A painting of General Burgoyne offering his sword and surrendering to General Gates. (Photo: britishbattles.com)
The Americans hard earned victory at Saratoga changed the course of the Revolutionary War. After the young nation proved itself on such a large scale, France was convinced to enter the war as America’s ally. The road ahead was still filled with great challenges, but French assistance was vital to the eventual American victory in the War of Independence.