Battle of Saratoga
Barry St. Leger's Mohawk Valley Offensive: August-September 1777
Following the action at Oriskany, New York, the situation settled into a steady siege at Fort Stanwix. On August 8, 1777, the garrison commander Colonel Peter Gansevoort agreed to a three-day armistice. At 1:00 A.M. on August 9, two officers slipped out of the fort and brought word of the situation to Northern Department Commander Maj. General Philip Schuyler at Stillwater, New York. On the evening of August 10, Brig. General Benedict Arnold left with a 800 man relief force.
General Arnold's progress was slowed by poor roads and it was not until August 21 that he reached Fort Dayton. He stayed at Fort Dayton in hopes of mustering local militia to suppliment his force, but only about 100 men turned out. About the same time, an agent of Arnold's known to the Indians penetrated the Indian camps outside Fort Stanwix and spread convincing rumors of the size of Arnold relief column. The already disgruntled Indians fell for the rumors completely and began to desert, as well as kill stragglers from Lt. Colonel Barry St. Leger's own forces and even plunder.
Late on August 22, General Arnold learned that Lt. Colonel St. Leger's siege operations were within 150 yards of Fort Stanwix, so he decided to push forward. On August 23, 1777, Arnold was told of the success of his agent's mission. He next received word from Colonel Gansevoort that St. Leger was retreating. Arnold himself arrived at Fort Stanwix lat that evening. On August 24, he sent a detachment in pursuit of St. Leger, but St. Leger was making tracks back to Canada, which he reached in early September.
The Need for Supplies: August 1777
Following his occupation of Forts Edward and George, Maj. General John Burgoyne now faced a major problem. His line of communications back to Canada was now 185 miles over rough terrain and by water. His supplies were running low. The nearby countryside was sparcely populated and what little livestock had been available had been driven off by the locals following Burgoyne's Proclamation of June 20, which had threatened turning loose his Indian army. The rebels had also stripped the land of natural resources as they retreated, all of which left Burgoyne with little to forage at a time when his army needed it most.
Back on July 22, Maj. General Friedrich von Riedesel had suggested a raid by way of Castleton and Clarendon into the lush Connecticut Valley for supplies. On July 31, 1777, General Burgoyne gave von Riedesel permission to plan such a raid with the expectations that the raid would also move south and rejoin the main force near Albany, New York. Lt. Colonel Friedrich Baum was chosen to lead the raid with approximately 800 men, which included 374 Germans and 50 British infantry. The remainder of his force was made up of Tories, Canadians and Indians.
Meanwhile, on July 30, 1777, Brig. General John Stark had reached Manchester where Seth Warner's militia had also regrouped. As a colonel of New Hampshire militia, Stark had led his men at the Battle of Bunker Hill. On January 1, 1776, he had become a Continental colonel. He was part of reinforcements sent to Canada and then saw action at the battles of Trenton and Princeton. He had resigned on March 23, 1777, when he was passed over for promotion to Brigadier General in favor of Enoch Poor. On July 17, 1777 Stark had been commissioned a Brigadier General of New Hampshire militia and had already raised 1,492 men.
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