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 War3 min read
Savoia-marchetti Sm.79
The ventral cupola held a rearward facing 12.7mm machine gun, and the bomb aimer’s position. Both were manned by the co-pilot, who had to sit over the bombsight. The distinctive third engine decreased airframe vibration and allowed the aircraft to lo
History of War10 min read
Hitler’s Assassins
In July 1944 most of Europe and huge swathes of the Soviet Union still lay under the Nazi jackboot, but Rome had been liberated, the Anglo-Americans were grinding the Wehrmacht to bloody bits in Normandy, and in the east the Red Army was liberating W
History of War2 min read
The Real Falstaff
Sir John Falstaff is one of English literature’s most enduring characters and was considered by Orson Welles to be “Shakespeare’s greatest creation”. A primarily comic figure (albeit with noticeable depth), Falstaff is a fat, vain and cowardly knight