The Patriot Resource - American Revolution

Battle of Saratoga
Battle of Saratoga

Reassessing the Situation: August-September 1777
When General George Washington learned that Maj. General John Burgoyne was in a tenuous situation, he called to "let all New England rise and crush Burgoyne." He had sent Maj. General Benjamin Lincoln with a brigade to support the Commander of the Northern Department, Maj. General Philip Schuyler, who had then sent Lincoln to gather the New Hampshire militia. Washington also detached Colonel Daniel Morgan and his rifle regiment to the Northern Department.

Meanwhile, political games had been playing out for months in the Continental Congress concerning command of the Northern Department. On August 19, 1777, Maj. General Horatio Gates arrived to take command of the Northern Department from General Schuyler. New England's support for Gates, coupled with Schuyler's arrogant manner toward the common soldier led to the change. When Gates arrived, most of the 4,000 Continental troops in the department were concentrated at the junction of the Hudson and Mohawk Rivers, while Brig. General Benedict Arnold was leading his detachment west to the relief of Fort Stanwix and the New Hampshire militia were recovering from their victory at Bennington.

During this time of transition in mid-August, General Burgoyne might have had a chance to retreat north back to Canada. Instead, his objective of Albany and the remaining possibility of support from Maj. General William Howe kept him marching south. On September 12, 1777, General Gates moved his forces from what had been General Schuyler's headquarters at Stillwater, New York to the strategic terrain at Bemis Heights, near Saratoga, New York. He began entrenching and waiting with his 7,000 troops . On September 13, Burgoyne gathered enough supplies to cross the Hudson River to Saratoga, New York with 6,000 men.

General Burgoyne had only about fifty Indians remaining, because the rest had deserted. As a result, he had few scouts to appraise him of the enemy's position, so he slowly marched south. On September 16, Burgoyne made camp after hearing the American reveille drums and attempted to ascertain the American position. On September 17, Burgoyne advanced another three miles and deployed his troops in a line beginning west of the Sword House. On September 18, he made a reconnaissance in force to adequately evaluate the sitution.

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