History of War

SARATOGA

“THE PLAN WAS FOR TWO BRITISH ARMIES TO WORK THEIR WAY ALONG THE HUDSON – ONE MARCHING SOUTH FROM CANADA, THE OTHER MARCHING NORTH FROM NEW YORK”

NEW YORK STATE, USA 19 SEPTEMBER & 7 OCTOBER 1777

If British plans had gone according to schedule, the critical battles around Saratoga may have happened a year earlier. A co-operation of forces along the Hudson River had been a huge keystone of British strategy from the very start of the American War of Independence, and a link-up of two armies was originally planned to take place in 1776.

The ‘Hudson strategy’ was almost unanimously agreed upon by British military and political leaders. Dividing the rebellious American colonies in two would theoretically prevent commerce and movement of men between the warlike New England provinces and the food-producing middle and southern colonies. In order to achieve this deceptively simple goal, the plan was for two British armies to work their way along the Hudson – one marching south from Canada, the other marching north from New York. In 1776 Sir Guy Carleton commanded in Canada, but made little progress. Meanwhile, William Howe occupied New York (winning a knighthood for himself in the process) but also failed to make any move up the Hudson. This lack of urgency in the implementation of the strategy forced the British to shelve their plans until the following year.

The strategy would be revisited in 1777, but this time a more vigorous commander was chosen for the army marching southwards. John Burgoyne (known as ‘Gentleman Johnny’) was an amateur playwright but he took his soldiering seriously. He had lobbied hard for the command of the ‘Canada Army’, returning to London to speak personally

You're reading a preview, sign up to read more.

More from History of War

History of War13 min read
Panzer Invasion
In May 1940, the world turned upside-down when Nazi Germany launched a campaign in Western Europe against the Low Countries, and most critically, France. Then a major power with a large colonial empire, France had a huge number of armed forces at its
History of War2 min read
Brennan Torpedo
Patented by Irish-Australian inventor Louis Brennan, his eponymous torpedo was a maritime first. The term ‘torpedo’ had been in use since the American Revolution to describe a towed maritime explosive charge. During the American Civil War, ‘torpedoes
History of War8 min read
Battle Of Leuthen
The blue-coated Prussian soldiers marched south over hard frozen ground blanketed with a light dusting of snow towards the nondescript village of Sagschutz, at midday on 5 September 1757. A string of low hills masked their march from the watchful eye