Saratoga - Part 2

From Freeman's Farm Clearing Looking Southeast  

     By September 16th, most of Burgoyne's Indians had packed up and left for home, so Burgoyne was reduced to detecting the American army by the sound of its drums.  The British had little idea of American positions and planned a reconnaissance in force for September 19th.  Burgoyne advanced in three widely separated columns.  Eleven hundred men under Riedsel advanced along along the river, 2,200 men under Fraser advanced on the far right, and 1,100 men under Burgoyne himself advanced in the center.  

     Benedict Arnold realized the opportunity to destroy one or more of Burgoyne's columns and convinced Gates to let him strike with some of his men.  At 12:45, Virginia riflemen under Dan Morgan created panic in the British center when from the woods on the far right of the picture, they advanced roughly along the route of the modern path and attacked the advance guard of the British center column.  They killed or wounded every officer in the advance guard near Freeman's Farm but were thrown back.

    The red tipped poles show the location of the eastern side of Balcarres' Redoubt constructed after the battle.

Looking North to Freeman's Farm From Just in Front of British Line

    The rest of the British center column arrived, with the center based around the buildings of Freeman's Farm, which I believe were just beyond the stone monument in the center of the picture, near the tree.  The 21st Regt. was in the area to the left (our left) of the buildings, followed by some guns and the 9th Regt. further to the rear in reserve.  The 62nd Regt. was at the Freeman's Farm buildings, its left flank bent back along the hillside to the right center of the picture where it was supported by some guns.  In the distant woods to the right was the 20th Regt. 

    The Americans received reinforcements and attacked.  The 1st, 2nd, and 3rd New Hampshire of Poor's brigade along with Connecticut militia attacked in the fields here.  Additional American troops attacked Fraser's column in fields off the picture to the left at the Coulter Farm.  For three or four hours, fighting raged at Freeman's Farm.  The Americans inflicted heavy casualties, and they pushed the British column back to the distant woods, but they were not able to drive the British from the field.

     Riedesel, commanding the left column near the river, marched with 500 men to reinforce the center column.  This reinforcement helped save the day for Burgoyne.  They entered the distant field on the right of the picture in the area obscured in by the forest in the middleground.  This was in the vulnerable flank and rear of the American troops, so the American troops were forced back.  Riedesel's weakening of the river column could have brought on disaster, however, but Gates failed to attack this column, which he outnumbered by over four to one.

     The American troops, low on ammunition, withdrew at nightfall, but the battle was hardly a British success.  Burgoyne lost 600 men to American losses of 319.  The British center column lost 44% of its strength, with the 62nd Regiment losing an amazing 83% of its men.

Back to Revolutionary War Virtual Battlefield Tours

Continue to Saratoga Part 3