1777 Campaign


February 28, 1777: Burgoyne Submits His Plan

Major General John Burgoyne submits his plan to crush the American revolt to North American Colonial Secretary Lord George Germain. The plan calls for cutting communications between New England and the rest of the colonies with a two-pronged invasion of northern New York. The larger army will advance south from Canada via Lake Champlain and Hudson River, while the smaller force will advance east from Lake Ontario into the Mohawk Valley. Both forces plan to meet at Albany.

June 17, 1777: Burgoyne Launches His Invasion

In St. Jean Canada, General Burgoyne launches his invasion southward along Lake Champlain with an army of about 9000, including 4000 British regulars, 3200 German auxiliary troops, and nearly1800 American loyalist soldiers, American Indian warriors, Canadian militia, civilian employees, and followers.

July 2, 1777: British Forces Surround Forts Ticonderoga and Independence

Moving south on Lake Champlain, British forces begin to surround American-held Forts Ticonderoga and Independence, occupied by a 2800 man garrison. American forces are not yet certain of British Army strength, but know they are significantly outnumbered.

July 5, 1777: British Mount Cannon Atop Sugarloaf Mountain/Mt. Defiance

British successfully mount cannons atop steep Sugarloaf Mountain (Mount Defiance), towering 853 feet over Fort Ticonderoga, making the fortress impossible to defend. Americans had thought the mountain impossible to scale with artillery.

July 5- July 6, 1777: Americans Evacuate Forts Ticonderoga and Independence

Under cover of night, Americans evacuate Forts Ticonderoga and Independence. The next morning, the British are surprised to find both forts abandoned. Although the fort's commander, Major General Arthur St. Clair, had little choice in evacuating, the American Army is severely demoralized.

July 7, 1777: Battle of Hubbarton

American forces that evacuated Forts Ticonderoga and Independence are surprised and overtaken by the British and clash in the Battle of Hubbardton, Vermont. Americans put up a tough struggle before being defeated by the arrival of German reinforcements

July 8, 1777: Americans Retreat to, Then Destroy Ft. Anne

A small British detachment encounters another part of the retreating American Army. The numerically superior American force is beaten back and retreats to Fort Anne. There, they decide to evacuate further south, burning the fort and barracks as they retreat.

July 25, 1777: Schuyler Delays the British Army

Major General Philip Schuyler orders his retreating American Army to fell trees, destroy bridges, and flood the road by damming creeks, which delays Burgoyne's pursuit. This allows Schuyler's army to collect, reposition, and resupply.

July 26, 1777: Barry St. Ledger Moves East

Commanded by Lieutenant Colonel Barry St. Leger, the second arm of the two-pronged British invasion force - composed of British, American loyalist, German, American Indian, and Canadian troops - moves east from Lake Ontario at Oswego, New York, toward the Mohawk River.

July 26, 1777: Jane McCrea is Killed

Loyalist Jane McCrea of Fort Edward, New York, is brutally scalped by American Indians allied with Burgoyne. Americans and British forces alike are outraged.

July 29, 1777: Americans Abandon Ft. Edward and Schuyler's Island

Continuing to keep ahead of advancing British forces, Americans destroy their barracks and abandon Fort Edward and Schuyler's Island (Rogers Island), New York, as the British approach.

August 3, 1777: St. Ledger Surrounds Ft. Schuyler/Stanwix

Colonel St. Leger begins to surround Fort Schuyler (Fort Stanwix), which guards the Oneida Carrying Place (present-day Rome, New York) an important portage between Lake Ontario and the Mohawk River. The British demand that the garrison surrender is "Rejected with disdain."

August 6, 1777: Battle of Oriskany

Brigadier General Nicholas Herkimer, leading a relief force of militia and Oneida warriors, is ambushed at Oriskany, New York, while on the way to Fort Schuyler. The battle is bloody, ferocious, and often hand to hand; Herkimer is mortally wounded and his little army decimated.

August 7, 1777: St. Ledger Demands the Surrender of Ft. Schuyler

After the Battle of Oriskany, St. Leger again demands the surrender of Fort Schuyler, threatening to massacre the defenders if they do not give up the fort. Colonel Peter Gansevoort, the fort's commander, refuses.

August 16, 1777: Battle of Bennington

Having taken Fort Edward, Burgoyne decides to send a detachment to raid supplies, forces, and weapons rumored to be in Bennington, Vermont. Surprised by American militia commanded by Brigadier General John Stark, almost 900 of Burgoyne's men are lost at Walloomsac, New York, during the Battle of Bennington. This loss seriously weakens Burgoyne's army.

August 19, 1777: Gates Replaces Schuyler

Major General Horatio Gates assumes command of the Northern Department, replacing General Schuyler, who is recalled by Congress due to the losses of Forts Ticonderoga and Independence.

August 23, 1777: St. Ledger Leaves for Canada

Word that a large American Army, commanded by Major General Benedict Arnold, is on its way to the relief of Fort Schuyler causes St. Leger's little army to abandon the siege and flee back into Canada. Burgoyne is now on his own.

September 12, 1777: Gates Fortifies Bemus Heights

With new reinforcements and a more positive outlook on the turn of events in August, General Gates moves his 8100 man army to Bemus Heights, located on the west side of the Hudson River just north of Stillwater, New York. Fortification of the heights begins in order to block Burgoyne's advance on Albany.

September 13, 1777: Burgoyne Crosses the Hudson at Saratoga (Schuylerville)

Abandoning supply and communication lines with the north, Burgoyne crosses to the west side of the Hudson River, just north of Saratoga (present-day Schuylerville, New York) and about 12 miles north of Bemus Heights, intent on making a final push to Albany.

September 18, 1777: Col. John Brown raids Ft. Ticonderoga

In a bold move. Colonel John Brown leads a raid on British forces near Fort Ticonderoga. Though he does not capture the fort, Brown frees imprisoned Americans, takes British prisoners, and further isolates Burgoyne's army.

September 19, 1777: First Battle of Saratoga (Freeman's Farm)

Burgoyne sends out three columns to attack the American fortifications at Bemus Heights. An intense battle on and near Freeman's Farm sways back and forth over fields and through forests for three hours and is ended by darkness. There are many acts of bravery and heroism on both sides. Although the British hold the field, their heavy casualties are daunting and the American Army still blocks the way south. Adding to British perils, further reinforcements of militia begin to arrive at the American camp. American forces casualties: about 320, British forces casualties: about 580

September 20, 1777: 150 Oneida and Tuscarora Warriors Join Gates' Army

Galvanized by their losses at the Battle of Oriskany, 150 Oneida and Tuscarora join Gates army at Bemus Heights. Along with the Stockbridge (Mohican) Indians already present with the army, their service as scouts and intelligence gatherers proves invaluable.

September 23, 1777: Brown Attacks Diamond Island on Lake George

Colonel Brown attempts to follow up on his raids near Forts Ticonderoga and Independence by attacking a British base on Diamond Island, Lake George, New York. Brown and his men are beaten back.

October 6, 1777: Clinton Seizes Forts Clinton and Montgomery

With the belated hope of relieving pressure on Burgoyne's army, Lieutenant General Sir Henry Clinton sails north from the City of New York and seizes Forts Clinton and Montgomery in the Hudson Highlands.

October 7, 1777: Second Battle of Saratoga (Bemus Heights)

Entrenched for 2.5 weeks, Burgoyne decides to send out a reconnaissance in force to locate the American defenses. In what becomes another fierce battle (Second Battle of Saratoga), British forces are driven from the field and Breymann's Post, a critical British fortification, is overrun. Gates's forces secure a monumental victory, and Burgoyne's situation has moved from perilous to desperate. American forces casualties: about 150, British forces casualties: about 600.

October 8-10, 1777: Burgoyne Retreats to Saratoga (Schuylerville)

Late in the evening on the 8th, Burgoyne's army begins a grim retreat north during a severe downpour. It takes the army over a day to reach the Village of Saratoga, eight miles away.

October 10, 1777: Gates Pursues Burgoyne

Gate's army quickly, albeit belatedly, begins to pursue Burgoyne. After setting fire to General Schuyler's country estate, Burgoyne's troops prepare to defend themselves as Gates's force arrives at Saratoga.

October 13, 1777 Clinton Burns Kingston, NY

Kingston, the seat of the New York government, is burned by the British forces from General Clinton's army in a vain attempt to assist Burgoyne at Saratoga. Americans are outraged by the British campaign of havoc and devastation perpetrated in the Hudson Valley

October 10-14, 1777: Burgoyne Awaits Help; Stark Traps the British Army

As Burgoyne waits desperately for help, Americans tighten the noose around his weakened army in Saratoga. Burgoyne's supplies and food are almost exhausted as Americans bombard his positions. Surprisingly, Burgoyne cancels an order for his army to withdraw. British inactivity allows General Stark to position a militia force to the north of Saratoga, closing off Burgoyne's only avenue of retreat.

October 14-16, 1777: Burgoyne and Gates Negotiate and Sign Terms of "Convention"

Burgoyne submits his own terms for "capitulation" - the act of surrender with terms - to Gates and is refused. In turn, Gates submits his demand that Burgoyne surrender unconditionally; Burgoyne and the officers of his war council are outraged and plan to make a stand to the last man. Gates quickly compromises, agreeing to Burgoyne's demands. After more diplomatic finagling and last minute negotiations, the document, now called a "convention" - a treaty - is signed by both Gates and Burgoyne.

October 17, 1777: Burgoyne Surrenders

On the grounds of abandoned Fort hardy in Saratoga, nearly 6000 British and German troops surrender their arms. This significant surrender proves America's ability to beat a world-class army, revives hopes for American independence, and sends shockwaves that will be felt worldwide.

October 18-November 6, 1777: The Convention Army Marches to Cambridge

The British and German soldiers of the surrendered "Convention Army" are ferried across the Hudson River at Stillwater. They are soon divided and march to their mutual destination, Cambridge, Massachusetts, by different routes: the British via Williamstown, Pittsfield, Northampton, and Worcester and the Germans via Kinderhook, Great Barrington, Springfield, and Worcester. The trip takes weeks, with officers and men being quartered in homes and barns, or bivouacking along the way, sometimes frozen on the ground.

October 18-27, 1777: Burgoyne and His Entourage Stays in Albany

Burgoyne and his extensive entourage of staff officers, servants, and visitors are invited as guests of General Schuyler's mansion in Albany. While the general oversees the reconstruction of his burnt country estate at Saratoga, his wife, Catharine Schuyler, and her children, slaves, and servants accommodate Burgoyne and his "family" for nearly ten days. After they leave Albany, they travel through Massachusetts to join the Convention Army in Cambridge.

November 3, 1777: James Wilkinson Informs Congress of the Surrender

Gates orders Lieutenant Colonel James Wilkinson to inform Congress of the surrender. After stopping for a bit of courtship along the way, Wilkinson delivers the news - and is admonished by congressmen for the delay. General Washington himself is informed by Gates even later still.

November 6-7, 1777: The Contention Army Arrives in Cambridge

The Convention Army arrives at its cantonment near Cambridge, Massachusetts where British and German officers and men are quartered in dilapidated log barracks on Prospect and Winter Hills under an American guard. According to the terms of the Convention, they are supposed to leave America and never return to fight. But their ultimate fate is far different from what they expect it will be...

Last updated: August 31, 2023

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