December 11, 2009
The New York State Campaign, also known as the Saratoga Campaign was an effort by the British Army to secure the Hudson River valley. The Primary thrust was made by General John Burgoyne with 8,000 men toward Saratoga, down the Hudson that culminated in a series of battles that would end with his surrender. Colonel Barry St. Ledger would support the thrust with a thrust toward Albany and General Sir William Howe would mistakenly drive toward Philadelphia in spite of plans being made to thrust north from New York City.
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Driving south from Quebec, Burgoyne first attached Fort Ticonderoga on July 2. Defended by General Arthur St. Clair and General Philip Schuyler with about 3000 men the so-called impregnable fort fell by July 6 with little resistance as St Clair had his me retreat that turned into a running gun battle of retrograde action.
Meanwhile St Ledger had marched on Fort Stanwix situated on the Mohawk river arriving on August 2. His force of 300 regulars, 650 Militia and 1000 Indians not only kept the siege but ambushed a relief force of 800 Militia at Oriskany. The Militia under General Nicolas Herkimer suffered a devastating blow as he faced a force of Loyalist Militia and Indians. Losing over 450 men to the loyalist 150, it was one of the bloodiest battles of the war. A raid from Fort Stanwix pilfered the Loyalist/Indian encampment during the battle, depressing morale. Additionally his battle sparked a civil war between the Indians of the “Six Nations”
Benedict Arnold sortied from Stillwater, New York with 800 Continental Regulars to relieve Fort Stanwix and added about 100 Militia from Ft. Dayton. He sent out messengers with false intelligence leading St. Ledger to believe that Arnold had a huge force bearing down on the British. This led to the hasty withdrawal of the allied Indians, forcing St. Ledger to quit his siege and head toward Ticonderoga. Thus Arnold and the majority of his force moved to bolster the Americans at Saratoga.
Burgoyne was suffering from a lack of logistical support as he took Fort Edward and send Colonel Friedrich Baum toward Massachusetts to capture draft animals. However, his force was attacked by General John Stark out maneuvered Baum at Bennington on August 16 and took another 1000 British out of the fight. Burgoyne placed a large amount of blame on the Indians that accompanied the force and his blame insulted the Indians who had lost many of their own. His scorn would cause most of the Indians to quit the British service and leave Burgoyne with fewer than 100 scouts.
On August 19 General Horatio Gates relieved Schuyler and took control of the force. As the Continental Congress had ordered, Militia from the area began to flood in along with Arnold’s forces from Fort Stanwix, amassing a force of over 10,000. Additionally several hundred troops under General Benjamin Lincoln were tasked to raid and harass the British rear. 7,000 British Moved on toward Albany and on September 18, just outside of Saratoga, the skirmishing began. For over a month the battle ebbed and flowed. Gates took personal command of the American right and Arnold took command of the left, with fortifications on Bemis Heights. The next day, Arnold anticipated a maneuver on his position and sent out a screening force of crack riflemen to meet the British. While Burgoyne took the field he did so with over 600 killed or wounded.
A bit of a stalemate ensued as Burgoyne tried to decide the best course of action. Gates on the other had had good intelligence on the enemy situation and his ranks continued to grow. Meanwhile Lincoln continued to harass the British rear including attacking Fort Ticonderoga until he was recalled to Bemis Heights by Gates, arriving on 22 September with about 2000 more men. Additionally, Howe ordered General Sir Henry Clinton to assist Burgoyne and he immediately began to raid north successfully, but his dispatches with good news would not arrive until too late.
Eventually reaching over 15,000 men gates was probed on his left by Burgoyne with 1500 men on October 3. He countered with two regiments and won the day as Arnold joined the battle against orders with the British suffering over 900 casualties against 150 Americans lost. The next morning Burgoyne began to attempt to retreat, but Gates outflanked him and surrounded his force by the 13th. On the 17th Burgoyne surrendered his sword to Gates, who promptly returned it as his 6000 men surrendered their arms to the strains of “Yankee Doodle Dandy” played by the American band. The “Convention” (as opposed to capitulation) of his forces was predicated on the removal of those forces out of the Americans without any future participation in any war fighting.
In the meantime, Howe persisted toward Philadelphia, through New Jersey, in effect abandoning Burgoyne. He finally did outmaneuver Washington and capture the city, albeit unopposed and deserted by the Continental Congress. His hopes of squashing the rebellion by capturing the capital proved fruitless. His 15,000 troops did not arrive there until September 26, and although unsuccessfully he pursed Washington until they both took up winter encampments.
The results of the campaign were the utter defeat of the British in Saratoga; additionally the French were finally persuaded to join the war and soon sent troops and naval assets to assets the Americans, thus ending the war earlier – and favorably for the Americans.
Posted by: Splinter 2 at December 16, 2009 05:13 PM (yGQAh)
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