A Military History of the Decisive Campaign of the American Revolution
by John Luzader
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The months-long 1777 Saratoga campaign was one of the most decisive of the entire Revolutionary War. The crushing British defeat prompted France to recognize the American colonies as an independent nation, declare war on England, and commit money, ships, arms, and men to the rebellion. John Luzader’s impressive Saratoga: A Military History of the Decisive Campaign of the American Revolution is the first all-encompassing objective account of these pivotal months in American history.
British General John Burgoyne assembled his command at St. Johns in June 1777. His force consisted of numerous warships, more than 130 pieces of artillery, and 7,800 men including two large divisions of rested veteran British Regulars. Burgoyne intended to capture Albany, New York, wrest control of the vital Hudson River Valley from the colonists, and divide the Northern American colonies in half. Initial colonial opposition included widely separated fixed positions, small garrisons and commands, and feuding American commanders. Burgoyne’s primary opponent was General Horatio Gates, a haughty and divisive leader whose 8,000 men included several capable field commanders, including Benedict Arnold and Daniel Morgan. The series of battles large and small these men would engineer stunned the world and spun the colonial rebellion in an entirely different direction.
The British offensive kicked off with a stunning victory at Fort Ticonderoga, followed by a sharp successful engagement at Hubbardton. Other actions erupted at Fort Stanwix, Oriskany, and Bennington. However, serious supply problems dogged Burgoyne’s column and, assistance from General William Howe failed to materialize. Faced with hungry troops and a powerful gathering of American troops, Burgoyne decided to take the offensive by crossing the Hudson River and moving against Gates. The complicated maneuvers and command frictions that followed sparked two major battles, one at Freeman’s Farm (September 19) and the second at Bemis Heights (October 7). Seared into the public consciousness as “the battle of Saratoga,” the engagements resulted in the humiliating defeat and ultimately the surrender of Burgoyne’s entire army.
Decades in the making, former National Park Service staff historian John Luzader’s Saratoga combines strategic, political, and tactical history into a compelling portrait of this decisive campaign. His sweeping prose relies heavily upon original archival research and the author’s personal expertise with the challenging terrain. Complete with stunning original maps and photos, Saratoga will take its place as one of the important and illuminating campaign studies ever written.
About the Author: A veteran of World War II and graduate of West Virginia University and the University of Texas, John Luzader worked for the U.S. Department of Defense as a research historian. Transferred to the U.S. Department of the Interior’s National Park Service, he conducted research for the preservation and interpretation of the Saratoga National Historic Park. Luzader planned and researched museum and outdoor exhibits for twelve national historical parks and served as the NPS’s central history office staff historian for the colonial and revolutionary periods. He lives with his wife Jean in a West Virginia retirement community.
FINALIST / RUNNER-UP: The Army Historical Foundation Distinguished Writing Award for Operational / Battle History, 2008
- Savas Beatie, October 2008
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