In hopes of crushing the American rebellion, the British concocted a plan to invade New York from their base in Canada in 1777. Essentially, two armies would follow waterways into the New York, unite and capture Albany. Once Albany was in their possession, these British forces would open communications to the City of New York, the British could establish their control of the entire Hudson River. Control of the Hudson river could sever New England from the rest of the colonies.
Under the the plan, General John Burgoyne would commanded the main thrust through the Lake Champlain valley wiht 8000 men. Although the invasion had some initial success with the capture of Fort Ticonderoga, bad new came from the west that the second British column was stalled by American Army led by Benedict Arnold. Then even worser news came when Burgoyne learned the main British army would not come out of city of New York to aid him. Although his plans were unraveling, Burgoyne refused to change his plans and continue to march south to Albany.
The Americans, under General Horatio Gates, established itself at a defensive position along the Hudson River called Bemis Heights, 50 miles north of Albany. With fortifications on the flood plain and cannon on the heights, the position dominated all movement through the river valley. Burgoyne’s army was entirely dependent upon the river to haul their supplies, and the American defenses were an unavoidable and dangerous obstacle.
Learning of the Rebels’ position, Burgoyne attempted to move part of his army inland to avoid the danger posed by the American fortifications. On September 19th 1777, his columns collided with part of General Gates’ army near the abandoned farm of John Freeman. While the battle was inconclusive, in the end Gates’ army still blocked his move south to Albany.
General Burgoyne elected to hold what ground he had and fortify his encampment, hoping for assistance from the City of New York. On October 7th, with supplies running dangerously low and options running out, Burgoyne attempted another flanking move. The expedition was noticed by the American who fell upon Burgoyne’s column, the British were routed and driven back to their redoubts. At dusk, one redoubt (see the store Battle of Breymann Redoubt) was overran by Americans led by Arnold Benedict. Burgoyne had to withdraw to his inner works near the river and the following day tried to withdraw northward toward safety. Hampered by bad roads made worse by frigid downpours, the British retreat made only eight miles in two days to a small hamlet called Saratoga; Gates’ army followed and surrounded Burgoyne and his army. With no other option Burgoyne capitulated on 17 October 1777 along with 6000 British soldiers (see store of Victory at Saratoga).