In the early days of the Revolutionary War, American forces had invaded Canada and scored decisive victories. The British mounted an effort to counter the American attacks and regain their grounds and take the war south into the colonies.
On October 11, 1776, the British won a decisive victory on Lake Champlain, defeating an American fleet led by General Benedict Arnold. The battle gave the British control of the 163-mile-long lake and provided access into the New York and Vermont colonies.
On August 29, 1776, the Revolutionary War nearly came to an end, leaving us singing God save the Queen. At the Battle of Brooklyn Heights, also known as the Battle of Long Island, British General William Howe nearly captured George Washington and the Continental Army. However, Washington and his army managed to retreat across the East River and escaped being captured.
In June 1777, British General John Burgoyne devised a plan to drive south from Canada along New York’s eastern border and separating the New England colonies from the rest of the colonies, making them easier to defeat. Part of Burgoyne’s plan was to gain control of the Hudson River, a vital waterway from New York City north into the northern wilderness of New York. Whoever controlled the Hudson River effectively controlled a large part of New England.
On July 5, 1777, American General Arthur St. Clair was forced to abandon Fort Ticonderoga as British General Burgoyne moved his troops south into the New York.
In early September 1777, British General Howe and his forces captured Philadelphia.
On September 11, 1777, Washington tried to stop Howe near Brandywine Creek, outside Philadelphia. However, again, things did not go well for Washington as he and the Continental Army were forced to retreat to Germantown, a mere several miles north of Philadelphia.
On September 19, 1777, British General Burgoyne tried to break an American line of defense at Freeman’s Farm, located near the village of Saratoga, New York.
On October 3, 1777, British General Henry Clinton, began moving north up the Hudson River to join force with Howe’s forces.
On October 4, 1777, American George Washington devised a plan to drive the British out of Germantown, but his plan failed at virtually every part possible and Washington was forced to withdraw.
On October 6, 1777, Clinton’s British forces captured American Forts Montgomery and Clinton.
By October 13, 1777, British General Burgoyne was at Saratoga with around 5,000 troops (half British and half Hessian). American General Horatio Gates heading a force of around 5,000 Patriot troops, had joined up with nearly 15,000 other Patriot forces. The 20,000 Patriot force surrounded the British forces at Saratoga.
On this day, October 17, 1777, Burgoyne realized his situation at Saratoga was untenable and surrendered his 5,000 troops to American General Gates. The Saratoga surrender was a huge victory for the Patriot forces. News of the British surrender reached across the ocean and played a very vital role in France’s decision to help the American colonies in the war against Great Britain and to gain their independence. France was the first nation to recognize the United States of America as an independent nation and their help in the Revolutionary War proved vital to our eventual victory over the British.
Sources for the above includes: Today, October 11, 1776: British Win Naval Battle on Lake Champlain; Today, October 4, 1777: Important Battle of Germantown; Today, October 6, 1777: British Capture 2 NY Forts; The Battle of Saratoga; The Battle of Saratoga; Patriot Victory at Saratoga; The Battle of Saratoga 1777; Battle of Saratoga; Battle of Saratoga 1777; Battle Of Saratoga – Sept & Oct 1777