Battle of Saratoga

Battleof Saratoga

In the summer of 1777, over 7,200 British soldiers under the command of Lieutenant General John Burgoyne departed Quebec down the Hudson River to ?sever the head of the rebellion? (Department of Military Science, 2006). In the British?s path were 7,000 poorly trained and poorly equipped American soldiers under the command of Major General Horatio Gates. These two Armies would meet and do battle in Saratoga, New York. Many battles during the Revolutionary War were either won or lost by the Armies that fought in them and military tactics played a role in each battle?s outcome. One battle, however, sticks out as the turning point for American forces that turned the tide of war in their favor. This essay will discuss some of the military tactics used to win the Battle of Saratoga which helped to determine the fate of the United States.
First it is important to understand that ?the success at Saratoga gave France the confidence in the American cause to enter the war as an American ally? (, 2012). Without this victory the American cause would not have been successful as the French would not have offered much needed financial and military assistance. For this reason, the Battle of Saratoga is known as ?the turning point of the Revolutionary War? (, 2012).
Additionally it is important to understand what military tactics are. Military tactics can be defined as: ?the techniques for using weapons and military units in combination for engaging an enemy on the battlefield in an effort to defeat that enemy? (M. Smith, personal communication, September 17, 1997). Some practices have not changed since the dawn of warfare: ambushes, counterattacks, reconnaissance, creating and using obstacles and defenses, and controlling the supply chain are all tactics still used today. The use of the terrain to the best advantage has not changed much; neither has the use of elevation and natural cover which will all be discussed later in this essay.
The first military tactic that will be discussed is the reconnaissance. The reconnaissance is a vital tactic used by military leaders that help them to understand the situation and better prepare for contact with the enemy. Reconnaissance can be defined as ?the process of obtaining information about the position, activities, resources, etc, of an enemy or potential enemy? (reconnaissance, 2012). Good reconnaissance led to the American?s detaching 1000 men (commanded by Major General Benedict Arnold) that engaged and defeated the British force (commanded by Brigadier General Barry St. Leger) along the Mohawk River. It is important to note that BG St. Leger?s forces retreated back into Canada and were not present for the battle of Saratoga. By understanding the importance of the reconnaissance tactic the Americans were able ?to thwart St. Leger's eastward advance along the Mohawk River? (Department of Military Science, 2006), and deny LTG Burgoyne much needed supplies and reinforcements. By knowing what the British were doing, MG Gates was able to ?set the stage? for the Battle of Saratoga in the American?s favor.
Another military tactic that had a significant impact on the Battle of Saratoga is the control of the supply chain. If a military unit is stretched too thin or out paces its supply chain, the unit will lose its combat power or the ability to take the fight to the enemy. During the Battle of Saratoga, ?American general Schuyler proceeded to burn supplies and crops in the line of Burgoyne's advance so that the British were forced to rely on their ever-longer and more and more unreliable supply line to Canada? (, 2012). This is one example of how to effectively disrupt the enemy?s supply chain. Other examples would be to ambush or raid enemy supply wagons in order to deny the enemy vital supplies such as food, water, ammunition, and gun powder. The negative effects of denying the British supplies during the battle of Saratoga were evident during the battles. It is also important to note that Burgoyne was unsuccessful at raiding the American?s supply depot at Bennington, Vermont. British LTG Burgoyne was ?Overextended, cut off from supply routes, and with demoralized forces?? (Department of Military Science, 2006). So the military tactic of disrupting the enemies supply chain was one element of the tactics employed by the Americans that led to the success at Saratoga.
Equally important is the ambush. An ambush is a military tactic that is used by a smaller