The Battle of Saratoga: The Turning Point of the American Revolution
The Revolutionary War is enshrined in American memory as the beginning of a new nation born in freedom. (The Saratoga Chamber of Commerce, 1999) On 17 October 1777, the surrender of the British during the Battle of Saratoga proved to the world that the American Army was an effective fighting force. The American victory at Saratoga was a major turning point in the America’s fight for Independence. This victory also resulted in needed military support from European powers, particularly France, against the British Empire. (Worcester Polytechnic Institute, 2006) The major factors that led to the British downfall during the Battle of Saratoga were their lack of intelligence collection assets, American versus European tactics, harsh terrain, poor logistic, and American resolve.
The American Revolution erupted in 1775. The American Revolution erupted in 1775. It seemed clear the British would win due to their larger army, and unrivaled Royal Navy. Many of the British were hardened veterans who fought in the French and Indian War. On the other hand, the Americans had undisciplined militiamen who had never fought before. The American Navy was small and was no match for the Royal Navy. The state of the army did improve with the leadership of George Washington. The Americans believed that they had a strong chance of success. The American’s unlike the British, were fighting in their homeland to protect their families, and perhaps more importantly they were fighting a popular war for their independence.
The British strategic goal of 1776 was to invade New York with two armies and eventually unite their New York invasion force with British forces based in Canada to capture Albany. The British believed this would in effect cut the Continental Army from the rest of the New England Colonies. (Furneaux, 1971)
General John Burgoyne commanded 4,000 English regulars and 3,000 German Mercenaries. The British force possessed 52 cannon to ensure they could defeat American fortified positions. The American forces led by General Horatio Gates were comprised of 6,500 Continentals and 1,500 Militia. This number grew as time went on. By the end of the Campaign, the local Militia grew to 14,000 troops. The American forces rifleman utilized the Kentucky rifle that had a slower rate of fire then the commonly used smoothbore musket, however it was capable of very accurate, aimed shots at great range. (Furneaux, 1971)
In June of 1777, Burgoyne began movement south toward Albany. Initially the expedition met with great success, however American forces slowed the British by blocking their path with fallen trees and ambushes. (Gragg, 2011) Burgoyne’s attempts to resupply were hampered by long and poorly resourced supply lines. This allowed American forces strength to grow and establish defensive positions South of Saratoga, at the farm of Colonial Loyalist John Freeman. (Furneaux,...