The Second Battle of Saratoga
By the 7th of October 1777, Burgoyne's situation was critical. Faced by a growing American army and no help from Clinton from the south, and supplies rapidly diminishing, the British army was becoming weaker with each passing day. Burgoyne had to choose between advancing or retreating.
He ordered a reconnaissance-in-force to test the American left flank. Ably led and supported by eight cannon, a force of 1,500 men moved out of the British camp. An American outpost on a ridge near Chatfield Farm spotted the British movement.
Chatfield farm is Tour Stop 4.
After marching southwesterly about three quarters of a mile, the troops deployed in a clearing on the Barber Farm. Most of the British were positioned in an open field, but both flanks rested in woods where they were exposed to surprise attack.
The Americans knew that Burgoyne's army was again on the move and at about 3 p.m. attacked in three columns under Colonel Morgan, Gen. Ebenezer Learned, and Gen. Enoch Poor. Repeatedly, the British line was broken, then rallied. Both flanks were severely punished and driven back. Gen. Simon Fraser, who commanded the British right, was mortally wounded as he rode among his men encouraging them to stand and cover the developing withdrawal.
Before the enemy's flanks could be rallied, Gen. Benedict Arnold, who had been relieved of command after a quarrel with Gates, rode onto the field and led Learned's brigade against the German troops holding the British center. Under tremendous pressure from all sides, the Germans joined a general withdrawal into the fortifications on the Freeman Farm. Within an hour after the opening clash, Burgoyne lost eight cannon and more than 400 officers and men.
The Barber Farm is Tour Stop 5.
Flushed with success, the Americans believed that victory was near. Arnold led one column in a series of savage attacks on the Balcarres Redoubt, a powerful British fieldwork on the Freeman Farm.
Balcarres Redoubt is Tour Stop 6.
After repeated American failures to carry Balcarres Redoubt, Gen. Benedict Arnold wheeled his horse and dashed through the crossfire of both armies to the Breymann Redoubt, also on Freeman Farm. He arrived just as American troops began their assault on British fortifications. He joined in the final surge that overwhelmed the German soldiers defending the work. Upon entering the redoubt, he was wounded in the leg. Had he died during this assault, no doubt, posterity would have known few names brighter than that of Gen. Benedict Arnold.
Breymann Redoubt is Tour Stop 7. Listen to the German reenactor who can be heard near Tour Stop 7.
Darkness ended the day's fighting and saved Burgoyne's army from immediate defeat. That night the British commander left his campfires burning, abandoned British Headquarters and began pulling his forces back to the north.
British Headquarters is Tour Stop 8
Burgoyne withdrew his troops behind the Great Redoubt, which protected the high ground and river flats at the northeast corner of the battlefield.
leave Tour Stop 8, you will cross a high bridge over a stream and the entrance
road from US Route 4 that, at this point, parallels the stream. Tour Stop 9 is
the Great Redoubt. From the top of the redoubt, there is a view of the entrance to the
park on US Route 4 and the Hudson River in the distance. Tables make it
a great spot for picnicking or just contemplating.
On the night of the 8th of October 1777, the British buried General Fraser in the redoubt and began a hasty retreat northward.
8/10ths of a Mile in Length
(Saratoga Battlefield Sign)
Tour Stop 10 commemorates the burial place of General Fraser and the British retreat. The tour stop is actually a walking trail that begins with a steep grade warning sign. Beyond the gravesite, the trail goes to the second fortification of three fortifications that constitute the Great Redoubt. The trail continues down a steep hill between the first and second fortifications. At the base of the first fortification of the Great Redoubt, there is a marker for the British Hospital. Turn around and head in the other direction. You will pass several markers. Further down the trail is a swampy field. In the field are four posts that mark the corners of Taylor Cabin, where Simon Fraser died.
In the three weeks prior to October 8, 1777, the British suffered 1,000 casualties. American losses numbered less than 500. After a miserable march in mud and rain, Burgoyne's troops now numbering 6,000, took refuge in a fortified camp on the heights of Saratoga (Schuylerville). There an American force that had grown to nearly 20,000 men surrounded the exhausted British army. Faced with such overwhelming numbers, Burgoyne surrendered on October 17, 1777. By the terms of the Convention of Saratoga, Burgoyne's depleted army marched out of camp "with the Honors of War" and stacked its weapons along the west bank of the Hudson River at Fort Hardy. Saratoga was a decisive and important victory. It was the turning point of the American Revolution.
Back to the Saratoga Battlefield