It was on this day in 1777 that the great Revolutionary War battle of Saratoga was concluded, ending in an overwhelming victory for the newly independent Americans. American troops under General Horatio Gates and General Benedict Arnold soundly defeated British General Burgoyne’s regular British Army troops and a contingent of Hessian soldiers.
The Americans took 5,700 prisoners while losing only 150 men. This victory was the strategic turning point of the war as it removed a large portion of the British threat to the northern states, and it inspired France to formally recognize American independence and to commit whole-heartedly to the American cause. France’s support was initially purely monetary, later it took the form of additional troops and fleets. This infusion of cash and troops was indispensable to the ultimate success of the American Cause. It was the victory of the French fleet in the Battle of the Capes in September of 1781 that left General Cornwallis stranded in Yorktown with no British fleet to assist him. A month later he surrendered, effectively ending the American Revolution leaving the Americans the winners.
Because of this impact – making the Colonies’ revolution into a part of the larger European geo-political maneuvering – the Battle of Saratoga ranks as one of the pivotal battles in world history; if the Colonists had lost, everything that followed would have been different.
Flower Mound, Texas
The truth is, all might be free if they valued freedom as they ought. — Samuel Adams
Saratoga: Turning Point of America’s Revolutionary War, Richard M. Ketchum; Henry Holt and Company, 1997: ISBN: 080504681X
In this wonderfully detailed and well-written account of the events leading up to the American victory at Saratoga, Ketchum explains how the Colonists alienated their potential allies in Canada, and adds a host of fascinating information which I had never before known of. Really well worth reading.
The Glorious Cause: The American Revolution, 1763 – 1789, Robert Middlekauff; Oxford University Press, 2005: ISBN: 0195162471
First published in 1982 as a part of Oxford’s history of The United States series, (which also includes James MacPherson’s landmark work on the American Civil War, The Battle Cry of Freedom) this is the essential one-volume work on the Revolutionary War. Middlekauff treats political and military aspects of the revolution, of course, but he also covers the social context of the times in the Colonies and in Great Britain, the religious moods of the day, and the economic and technological developments of the era. As I say, essential.