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tv   Saratoga National Historic Park  CSPAN  December 17, 2017 6:29pm-6:46pm EST

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were two0 seven, there battles that were fought here in saratoga. -- in 1777 there were two battles fought here near saratoga. they turned out to be the turning point of the revolutionary war. we talk with eric schnitzer here at the historic national park. >> the new york times magazine says the battle of saratoga was the most important battle ever fought in the last 1000 years because they resulted in a general surrender. it was the first time in history that a british army surrendered. we are located at one of the places at saratoga national park where the battles were fought in 1777 during the american war for independence.
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saratoga historic national park consists of 3400 acres. it was established in 1948 as a park within the national park service system. the british army had a plan in order to defeat the american rebellion. the plan was that they would have an army leave canada and move south and capture the city of albany. from there that army would be able to operate either in lower new york or throughout england -- throughout new england and attack american forces that were fighting against them. the british set off from canada in june of 1777. they traveled hundreds of miles and eventually got here to saratoga battlefield, located 30 miles north of the city of albany. september 1777, the british army moved south in expectation of
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engaging the american army commanded by horatio gates in battle. the two armies collided here at the battle of freeman's farm. it was one of the longest battles of the revolutionary war. it began at about 11:30 in the morning very near to where we are standing in the world and lasting until 7:00 in the evening. the battle resulted in a british victory. the british won. they won because they held the field of battle. the american army retreated because they had lost. the british suffered more casualties. the british casualty number was 580. american casualties numbered 320. although it was a pure victory, they still held the field of battle.
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the next day the british army , had to reorganize their forces. they had taken so many casualties on the day of the battle that they had to reorganize things. they also needed to replenish their spent ammunition. as for the army of the united states, they had to do similar reorganizations of their forces and replenish ammunition amongst their soldiers. the next day was a day of rest for both armies. the 21st of september was a day of which one of those incidents in history occurs that nobody planned it, but timing resulted in a very divisive event in history. that morning, the british
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commander received a note from the british commander of the city of new york. this note informed him that he was preparing to make an attack up through the hudson highlands. and create a diversion. the general read this note and responded to general clinton with the words, do it my friend directly. the strategy was with the diversion in the highlands, horatio gates would have to split his force in half, making it easier for burr going about 30 miles south of freeman's farm. the general decided he would wait for general clinton's diversion to have an effect.
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he began to set up his own camp, build fortifications on the surrounding landscape, and he was waiting for 2.5 weeks. in that time frame no further word arrived from general clinton. general clinton would break through the american lines, but none of those messages ever got through. he was isolated and in the dark. he had no intelligence on the matter. he waited for two and half weeks. he waited hoping something would occur. as it was that never occurred. no reinforcements were ever sent i horatio gates. -- by horatio gates.
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instead state militias were being ordered out by their state governments. they were arriving on gates's camp bolstering his numbers. when the battle of freeman's farm was fought, it consisted of 8000 officers men. as the weeks wore on by the time of the seventh of october, horatio gates's army numbered over 12,000 officers men. every one of those reinforcements were in the form of militia. strategy was simple. his was a strategy of defense. his job was to defend albany from invasion. what he wanted was for him to turn tail and to retreat back to canada. as it was he never retreated at this time after the battle of freeman's farm.
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horatio gates was waiting for him to make the next move. by the time of seventh of october 1777, the general waited for general clinton to do something in the hudson highlands. although he did make an attack through the hudson highlands, a very successful attack, it drew no reinforcements from his army. he reports that his report informed him that general gates's army was only increasing in strength. his army was isolated. he was losing men every day through attrition, skirmishes, disease, and his food supplies were running lower and lower every day. the general decided he had take things into his own hands. he devised a plan that he would move out with 1500 officers men.
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he determined that he was going to try to view the american lines of defense for himself. upon viewing the lines from a distance he would make the determination whether or not to attack the next day. or if the defense looked to be too strong he would go back to his camp, wait a few days, wait for more time to pass and then if nothing happened he gets this retreat back toward canada. they come upon a wheat field. this is very convenient because his army needed that wheat.
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so while they wait to cut the harvest, he literally lines up, sits down, and waits for this to be finished with so they can continue on their path south towards the american line of defense. the americans interpreted his movement as a means of attack. horatio gates ordered an attack on the british line at the wheat fields. the attack commences, it fails. general benedict arnold reports the situation to general gates and says, general gates, you must send a stronger horse. -- stronger force. he then says give me some men and we will have fun before sunset. general gates approves of the attack that general arnold devised.
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general arnold leads a massive attack against the british lines and the british are beaten off the field. they are scattered with the americans in hot pursuit. the british all run to a fortification that they had built upon freeman's farm. british get into that fortification. the american forces make an attack. it's unsuccessful. however, other forces attempt a strike at entrenchment, which is where we are located right now. the entrenchment consisting of , not much more of a wall defended by 200 and 250 german soldiers and american royalist soldiers. the defenses were overwhelmed
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from the front and the flank by american continental and militia forces. one of the decisive moments occurred right here while we are standing. about a dozen riflemen came up through the back flank of the fortification, which the german defenders were caught unawares. the riflemen were joined by benedict arnold. benedict arnold had left the attack that was occurring. he rode over here when he saw what was occurring at the entrenchment. although the attack was brilliantly successful, defenders retreated to try to save their own lives. benedict arnold was severely wounded in the left leg.
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after the second battle of saratoga was over, he realized his defensive positions were untenable and he had no choice but to retreat back to the north. his army began to retreat. his army only made it eight miles north. the american army was in hot pursuit. the american army caught up at a place then known as saratoga. it is known as the villages of schuylerville and victory. general gates begins to surround general burgoyne after a few days of siege and negotiations. he surrendered his army 1777. this is often called the turning point of the revolutionary war. a british army had never
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surrendered before in the history of the world. burgoyne's surrender was a major factor in bringing about the french alliance. we had envoys and ambassadors to france who are trying to get the french to side with the united states. they were not biting as far as an official alliance. with this surrender, our envoys had that peace that they needed to bring about the french to convince them to not only recognize the united states as a real legitimate country, but to become our formal allies. the french signed a treaty of alliance and a treaty of amity and commerce. it's with this french alliance we eventually won the revolutionary war. the last major battle engagement occurred in yorktown, virginia in 1781.
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most of the personnel were actually french. we would not have won yorktown without french naval army assistance. we would not have had french assistance without saratoga. r cities tour staff recently traveled to saratoga springs, new york, to learn about its rich history. learn more about saratoga springs and other stops on our tour. you are watching american history tv, all weekend, every weekend, on c-span3. announcer: tonight, onto afterwards, keith koffler on his book, bannon: always the rebel. you have spent a lot of time with steve bannon.
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you have heard his goals and talked about what he wants to do. what odds do you give him for being able to help reach those goals? >> do you want me to be utterly honest or utterly hopeful? i have come to agree with a lot of what he said. chance there is a decent because i believe bannon believes the electorate has already changed. general election, he was victorious. despite flaws, they elected trump. i think bannon believes that the longing for populism and nationalism is there. he believes it is already victorious among the base that it has not changed in washington
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and in the leadership, particularly in the senate. that is what he is -- that is what is driving him. announcer: paying with their book by john015 kinder. york academye new of medicine, professor kinder explorers the history of u.s. wars through the eyes of five disabled veterans. includesinute talk graphic images of wounded veterans. >> for this evening, we are topy to welcome john kinder talk about the history of


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