Battle of Saratoga
Skenesboro to Fort Edward: July 1777
Following his failure to trap Colonel Pierce Long at Skenesboro on July 6, 1777, Maj. General John Burgoyne sent Lt. Colonel John Hill after Long to Fort Anne on July 7. Hill failed to catch Long's rear guard, but he did capture several boats full of invalids and baggage. Hill made camp a mile from the fort. A deserter appeared in the British camp early on July 8th and told Hill that there were 1,000 Americans in the fort, but that they were demoralized. Lt. Colonel Hill only had 190 men himself and decided to call for reinforcements and wait. The same 'deserter' returned to the fort and reported how weak the British force was.
Colonel Henry van Rensselaer had arrived at Fort Anne with 400 New York militia and at 10:30 A.M., he and Long sallied forth to attack Hill. Hill managed to reach high ground and the two sides exchanged fire for two hours. Both sides were running low on ammunition when they heard an Indian war whoop, which indicated Burgoyne's reinforcements were arriving. The Americans broke off their attack, burned Fort Anne and retreated to Fort Edward. It turned out that the war whoop had been used by one Captain Money when his Indians had refused to follow him into the action.
Following the losses of Fort Ticonderoga and Skenesboro, Maj. General Philip Schuyler ordered 1,000 axemen to chop down trees across all trails and routes between Skenesboro and Fort Edward. They also dug ditches to create quagmires. These measures made Burgoyne's progression to Fort Edward nearly grind to a halt as routes had to be cleared and roads even built. He had chosen to send his artillery by the water route, but that was made a difficult task because of rapids and American impediments in the channel. It took Burgoyne twenty days to cover twenty miles, finally arriving at Fort Edward on July 29, 1777, while the commander of his supply column Maj. General William Phillips took Fort George the same day.
General Howe's Indifference to His Role in Burgoyne's Offensive
Maj. General William Howe had been expected to play a role in General Burgoyne's great offensive. Even so, he had managed to get Lord Germain to approve a campaign to capture the center of the rebel colonial government at Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Germain had approved it under the condition that he carry out his offensive south into Pennsylvania in a timely fashion so that he could return north and play his part in Burgoyne's plan. Instead upon his return from England, he bided his time in New York, planning a circuitous approach by sea to capturing Philadelphia.
On July 23, 1777, General Howe received word of General Burgoyne's victory at Fort Ticonderoga. . Burgoyne had requested the status of Howe's movement toward Albany, but instead Howe sailed south. For the first two weeks of August, he was at sea. In September and October, he was battling and maneuvering against General George Washington in New Jersey and Pennsylvania, securing Philadelphia in mid-September. He had taken a rather slow approach to his campaign, almost in an effort to not come to Burgoyne's support. He had left Lt. General Henry Clinton in command of New York with 8,500 men.
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