British General John Burgoyne
||Born: February 24, 1722; Bedfordshire, England
Died: June 4, 1792; London, England
Burgoyne's Offensive (Saratoga Campaign): 1777
On August 19, 1777, Maj. General Horatio Gates had assumed command of the Northern Department, replacing Maj. General Philip Schuyler. Gates immediately moved to cut off John Burgoyne's ability to retreat north. However, he did not move to engage him, but rather just starve Burgoyne into submission. Finally, Burgoyne gathered enought supplies and crossed the Hudson River to confront Gates on September 13, 1777.
Even when Burgoyne moved his army close enough to entice a fight, Gates was content to hold his position, so on September 19, Burgoyne sent three columns to probe the American defenses at Bemis Heights, but Colonel Daniel Morgan and his riflemen drove the British back to their position at Freeman's Farm before they ever got close to the American main camp. The Americans were winning the day until low ammunition and German reinforcements forced them to withdraw.
Again, General Gates was content to hold his position and force Burgoyne to make the first move. After learning from Lt. General Henry Clinton that reinforcements were still several weeks off, Burgoyne had to make a move or starve his army. Burgoyne sent 1,500 men to test the American lines at Bemis Heights and the Americans responded with three columns. After back and forth fighting where the British rallied again and again, they were finally driving back onto their fortifications at Freeman's Farm. Gates would have been satisfied to allow the British to hole up in their fortifications, but Brig. General Benedict led the Americans against the fortifications and after some intense fighting, they overran the battlements. Burgoyne was forced to withdraw.
Burgoyne made an attempte to retreat that night, but instead found himself trapped in Saratoga. After negotiating terms, the official surrender ceremony took place on October 17, 1777. Burgoyne's defeat had a huge impact on the war. The American victory finally convinced the French to openly join the war, which would help turn the tide at Yorktown. Burgoyne himself returned to England on parole in early 1778.
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