On Sept. 14, 1777, the expedition of Burgoyne crossed the Hudson by a bridge of boats and encamped on the heights and plains of Saratoga, near Fish creek, within a few miles of the northern division of the continentals under Gen. Gates at Stillwater. Kosciuszko had fortified Bemus's heights; the right wing occupied a hill nearest the river, and Arnold commanded the left wing about three fourths of a mile further removed. Next day the right wing of the British advanced to within 4 m. of the American lines, and on the 19th made a further forward movement of 2 m. It was led by Burgoyne, and consisted of Canadians and Indians, supported by a body of grenadiers and light infantry under Gen. Fraser. Gen. Morgan, who had been detached about noon with his sharpshooters to observe Burgoyne's movements, drove back the advanced guard, but coming upon the main column was compelled to retreat. ReŽnforcements coming up under Arnold, a severe conflict ensued, commencing about 4 o'clock and continuing until dark. The loss of the Americans was within 400, that of their adversaries about 500. This contest is variously called the battle of Saratoga, Stillwater, and Bemus's heights.
Frustrated in this attempt, his communications with Canada cut off by the seizure of the posts at the outlet of Lake George, and his supplies intercepted by the capture of a large fleet of boats with provisions and 300 men, Burgoyne's only hope was in Sir Henry Clinton, who had promised to attempt the ascent of the Hudson for his relief. He fortified his camp, but after waiting two weeks had no alternative but to hazard a battle. On Oct. 7, seconded by Major General Phillips and Riedesel, and Brigadier General Fraser, he advanced with 1,500 picked troops, two 12-pounders, two 6-pounders, and two howitzers, to within one mile of the American camp. Scouts were sent out with orders to make a diversion in the rear, but they were discovered by the advanced guard of the Americans. Two detachments went forward, one under Gen. Poor against the British left and one under Morgan against their right. On the left the Americans advanced against the British grenadiers and artillery, and, having been joined by Arnold (who had rushed without orders to the head of the detachment, and assumed the command), took and lost the batteries again and again, until the enemy had been driven off and their own guns turned upon them.
Morgan in the mean while had attacked the enemy's right under Fraser, who was fatally wounded by a sharpshooter. This, followed by a reŽnforcement of the Americans, threw the British into confusion, and Burgoyne, abandoning his artillery, retreated to his camp in good order. Here he was again desperately assailed, and the Americans carried a portion of the camp and drove off the Hessian reserve. Arnold, who led the last charge, was severely wounded in the leg. Night closed the contest; the victors lay on their arms near the battle field, and Burgoyne abandoned his camp and moved about a mile to the north. On the 9th he retreated to Saratoga, and on the 10th the whole British force occupied their former camp, which they proceeded to strengthen in the hope of succor from Sir Henry Clinton, should they not be able to effect a retreat. An American battery under Gen. Fellows commanded the passage across the river, the bridges on the road to Fort Edward were destroyed, and Gates with about 12,000 men appeared on the S. side of Fish creek prepared for battle.
Without an avenue of retreat, continually exposed to the fire of Gates's and Fellows's batteries and the riflemen of Morgan, without provisions for more than a few days, and despairing of relief, Burgoyne, after consultation, on Oct. 13 proposed a cessation of hostilities until terms of capitulation could be agreed upon. Gates demanded an unconditional surrender, which was rejected; and he finally agreed on the 15th to more moderate terms, influenced by the possibility of Clinton's arrival, which after some hesitation Burgoyne signed on the 17th. They provided that the British were to march out with the honors of war, and to be furnished a free passage to England under promise of not again serving against the Americans. These terms were not carried out by congress, and most of the captured army, with the exception of Gens. Burgoyne, Riedesel, Phillips, and Hamilton, were retained as prisoners while the war lasted. The Americans obtained by this victory, at a very critical period, an excellent train of brass artillery, consisting of 42 guns of various calibre, 4,647 muskets, and a large supply of ammunition. The prisoners numbered 5,804, and the entire American force at the time of the surrender was 10,817 effective men.
A plan has been formed for the erection of a monument on the site of the surrender (Schuylerville), to be higher than that of Bunker Hill, with niches for bronze statues of the principal actors in the battle. The cost is estimated at $450,000, toward which the state of New York has appropriated $50,000.