OTD: Digby describes the action in 1777

#Onthisday in 1777, British Lieutenant William Digby of 53d Regiment of Foot described the action after the 2nd Battle of Saratoga (Battle of Bemus Heights). 
Took post in a battery which commanded the country around, and the rest of the army surrounding the battery and under cover of our heavy cannon. 

About 8 in the morning we perceived the enemy marching from their camp in great numbers, blackening the fields with their dark clothing. From the height of the work and by the help of our glasses, we could distinguish them quite plain. 

They brought some pieces of cannon and attempted to throw up a work for them, but our guns soon demolished what they had executed. 

Our design was to amuse them during the day with our cannon, which kept them at a proper distance, and at night to make our retreat, but they soon guessed our intentions, and sent a large body of troops in our rear to push for the possession of the heights of Fort Edward. 

To learn more about the Battles of Saratoga, 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 better books is John Luzader’s Decision on the Hudson : the Battles of Saratoga Fort Washington, PA : Eastern National, 2002 ISBN: 1888213590 
The Saratoga Campaign of 1777 started in June along Lake Champlain. British Major General John Burgoyne, undertook his part of the plan for British control the waterway to Albany. Burgoyne’s army of some 8,000 men met no resistance as he sailed down Lake Champlain and took Fort Ticonderoga without firing a shot. Burgoyne’s troubles began as he prepared to cross twenty-two miles of wilderness between Lake Champlain and the Hudson River. Burgoyne’s army struggle to cross the rugged terrain. American General Philip Schuyler directed the Americans to sabotage the narrow route through the wilderness to slow the progress of Burgoyne’s men. An unseasonably hot and humid July, combined with Burgoyne’s need to surround himself with the luxuries of British aristocratic life, which translated into over thirty wagons laden with personal belongings, proved to be a major hindrance to the progress of the British troops. 
As Burgoyne’s supply lines stretched further, he sent a detachment of Hessian troops to Bennington to capture additional horses and supplies held by the colonists. What Burgoyne did not understand was that there was great disaffection among the Continentals who were enraged by widespread stories of brutalities against women and children. One story that was widely popular was Jane McCrea, an American woman betrothed to a British officer, who was scalped by Indians. The fear of further savagery throughout the frontier by Burgoyne’s native allies helped Americans organize a surprise attack on the Hessians, killing some 900 men at the Battle of Bennington. This first real setback created considerable risk for Burgoyne as he approached Saratoga with no reinforcements, as British General Howe and his army was pursuing American General Washington in Philadelphia and British Colonel St. Leger’s army progress was halted at Fort Stanwix in the west. 
The American Northern Army’s General Horatio Gates moved Americans northward from its camp near the Mohawk River in early September, 1777. There were three distinct phases of the Battle of Saratoga. The first and second battles were fought in Stillwater, on September 19 and October 7, 1777. From October 10-17, 1777 Burgoyne’s British troops took refuge in a fortified camp at the siege field in Saratoga (Schuylerville). During the siege, the American force had grown to nearly 20,000 men which surrounded the exhausted British army of 3,000 men. 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 its camp “with Honors of War” and grounded (or stacked) their arms at the “Field of Grounded Arms” which is now Fort Hardy Park in Schuylerville. 
A few months after Burgoyne’s defeat in Saratoga, France entered a formal alliance with the recognized American nation in the spring of 1778, and set in motion a chain of events that eventually led to victory for the American War of Independence. 
Saratoga is known for being the turning point of the American Revolution. 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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