OTD: Digby Describes the British Battle Casualties

#Onthisday in 1777, there was a second great battle at Saratoga. It was known as the Battle of Bemus Heights. British Lieutenant William Digby of 53d Regiment of Foot described the action (in his journal he writes about it the day after 8 October 1777). 
General Frazier was yet living, but not the least hopes of him. He that night asked if Gen Burgoyne’s army were not all cut to pieces, and being informed to the contrary, appeared for a moment pleased, but spoke no more. 

Capt Wight (53 Grenadiers), my captain, was shot in the bowels early in the action. In him I lost a sincere friend. He lay in that situation between the two fires, and I have been since informed lived till the next day and was brought into their camp. 

Major Ackland was wounded and taken prisoner with our Quarter master General, and Major Williams of the Artillery. Sir Francis Clerk fell, Aid de camp to the general, with other principal officers. 

Our Grenadier Company out of 20 men going out, left their Captain and 16 men on the field. 

Some here did not scruple to say, General Burgoyne’s manner of acting verified the rash stroke hinted at by General Gates in his orders of the 26, but that was a harsh and severe insinuation, as I have since heard his intended design was to take post on a rising ground, on the left of their camp,— the 7th— with the detachment, thinking they would not have acted on the offensive, but stood to their works, and on that night our main body was to move, so as to be prepared to storm their lines by day break of the 8th; and it appears by accounts since, that Gen Gates would have acted on the defensive, only for the advice of Brigadier General Arnold, who assured him from his knowledge of the troops, a vigorous sally would inspire them with more courage than waiting behind their works for our attack, and also their knowledge of the woods would contribute to ensure the plan he proposed. 
When you are dealing with such rich historical series of events like the Battles of Saratoga, there may be some questions that pop up as you learn more about this fascinating junction in our nation’s history. You can visit the Saratoga National Historical Park in the towns of Saratoga and Stillwater. The park website is at http://ift.tt/2cxkI82 
The Schuylerville Public Library http://ift.tt/2dYYY7C 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. OCLC 41397623 
In 1777, the British were still in excellent position to quell the rebellion. Had it not been for a variety of mistakes, they probably could have won the war. During early 1777, British officials considered a number of plans for their upcoming campaign. One they apparently decided upon was to campaign through the Hudson River Valley and thereby cut off New England from the rest of the colonies. 
British General William Howe was to drive north from New York City while British General John Burgoyne was to drive south from Canada. Meanwhile, British General Barry St. Leger would drive down the Mohawk Valley in upstate New York. The major problem was not with the plan but with its execution. 
Historians continue to debate whether Howe was ill-informed or simply acted on his own. Whatever the reasons, Howe decided to capture Philadelphia, the seat of the Continental Congress, rather than to work in concert with Burgoyne and St. Leger. Howe hoped that by seizing Philadelphia, he would rally the Loyalists in Pennsylvania, discourage the rebels by capturing their capital, and bring the war to a speedy conclusion. Washington tried to thwart Howe’s plan, but Howe out-maneuvered him at Brandywine Creek and then at Germantown. While Howe’s forces settled into winter quarters in Philadelphia, the Continental Army went into winter quarters at Valley Forge. There, the army faced deprivation in the extreme. 
Meanwhile to the north, British Generals Burgoyne and St. Leger suffered significant defeats at Fort Stanwix (Rome), New York; Bennington actually Walloomsac, New York; and finally at Saratoga, New York. 
These American victories were critical for they helped convince France to recognize American independence and brought the French directly into the war as military allies. The French Treaty was also a result of a new British peace proposal, announced by Lord North in late 1777. The French were concerned that the Americans would agree to North’s proposal since it offered them virtual autonomy within the British Empire. The French Alliance changed the face of the war for the British; the American War for Independence was now in essence a world war. 
Saratoga is known for being the turning point of the American Revolution. That is why studying the Battles of Saratoga is integral to a good understanding of the American freedoms.

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