OTD: British General Burgoyne held a Council of War

battles

After the first battle (Battle of Freeman’s Farm – 19 September 1777) the British consolidated their positions with two strong redoubts. During this period there were almost daily clashes between pickets and patrols of the two armies. American Colonel Morgan’s sharpshooters, familiar with the strategy and tactics of woodland warfare,constantly harassed British patrols on the western flank.

As September passed into October it became clear that British General Clinton was not coming from New York City to help British General Burgoyne, who put the army on short rations. The next day, Burgoyne called a war council (meeting of the senior British Officers) in which several options were discussed.

Historian John Brandow described the meeting in The Story of Old Saratoga and the History of Schuylerville (1901):

“Burgoyne not having heard anything from Clinton, and his commissariat running low, called a council of his principal officers on the evening of the 5th of October, laid the situation before them, and asked their advice. Riedesel advised a hasty retreat to Fort Edward ; Fraser conceded the wisdom of this, but was willing to fight; Phillips declined to give an opinion. Burgoyne,strongly averse to a retreat, decided to ascertain first, the position and strength of his enemy, by a reconnoissance in force and second, learn if the high ground to the west commanded Gates’ camp; then if he should think it unwise to attack, he would retreat. “

If you wish to learn more about the Battles of Saratoga may we suggest a visit to the Saratoga National Historical Park. The park website is at http://ift.tt/2cxkI82

The Schuylerville Public Library http://ift.tt/2dRB4eb and all the libraries in the region have a number of books on the Battles of Saratoga. One of the more popular and well written books is Richard M Ketchum’s Saratoga: Turning Point of America’s Revolutionary War. (1997) New York: Henry Holt. ISBN 978-0-8050-6123-9. OCLC41397623

Saratoga is known for being the turning point of the American Revolution. In 1777 −− the second year of America’s War for Independence −− the British sought to quell the rebellion with a single decisive military campaign. The British plan depended on using an invading army to divide the colonies along a natural corridor of rivers and lakes stretching from Canada to New York City. The Americans’ determined resistance at Saratoga, coupled with British strategic blunders, resulted in a stunning defeat and surrender for a British army. This timely victory reversed American military fortunes, boosted patriot morale, and gained them international recognition and support, including military assistance. That is why studying the Battles of Saratoga is integral to a good understanding of the American freedoms.

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