Saratoga, surrender of

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Saratoga, surrender of, 1777. Burgoyne's 1777 expedition was ill defined, over-ambitious, and badly executed. The plan to drive south from Canada along the Hudson river to Albany, isolating the New England colonies, sounded plausible. But it was not clear, in an area of dense forest, how the New Englanders would be isolated, what Burgoyne would do when he got to Albany, or even whether he could obtain the supplies and ammunition to get there. Above all, the strategy depended upon a degree of co-ordination almost impossible to attain with armies hundreds of miles apart and communication hazardous. Burgoyne left Canada towards the end of June and had an initial success when the enemy abandoned Fort Ticonderoga. But in August a large foraging party was annihilated at Bennington. The march was slow and painful, supplies inadequate, and the enemy vigilant. On 19 September Burgoyne encountered Gates at Bemis Heights and lost more men he could not replace. He fell back on Saratoga and was surrounded. An attempt to break out on 7 October was repulsed and on 17 October Burgoyne and nearly 6,000 men surrendered on terms. The disaster helped to bring the French into the war as allies of the American rebels.

J. A. Cannon