Campaign Timeline

Lieutenant General John Burgoyne submits his plan to crush the American revolt to Colonel 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.
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.
British successfully mount cannons atop steep Sugarloaf Mountain (Mount Defiance), towering 853 feet overFort Ticonderoga, making the fortress impossible to defend. Americans had thought the mountain impossible to scale with artillery.
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 severly demoralized.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Loyalist Jane McCrea of Fort Edward, New York, is brutally scalped by American Indians allied with Burgoyne. Americans and British forces alike are outraged.
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.
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."
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.
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.
Having taken Fort Edward, Burgoyne decides to send a detachment to raid supplies, forses, 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.
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.
Word that a large American Army, commanded by Major General Benedict Arnold, is on its way to the relief ofFort Schuyler causes St. Leger's little army to abandon the siege and flee back into Canada. Burgoyne is now on his own.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 accomodate Burgoyne and his "family" for nearly ten days. After they leave Albany, they travel through Massachusetts to join the Convention Army in Cambridge.
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.
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: December 9, 2020

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