Battle of Saratoga 1777


During the American Revolutionary war (1775-1783) the 29th Regiment of Foot commanded by Col. Thomas Carleton took part in a number of actions, but most importantly the Battle of Saratoga
Following the failure of the Continental (American) Army’s invasion of Canada, at the battle of Quebec (December 1775 – May 1776), the British commanders hoped to squash the Rebellion once and for all, by isolating the New England colonies from the other colonies.
In the spring of 1777, the British high command ordered three armies to converge in Albany, New York. Only one army, however, that commanded by General John Burgoyne, made the final push to its destination. Forming part of the advance corps under Brigadier General Fraser were the flank companies of the 29th Foot. Between the 3rd and 6th of July Fraser’s Brigade evicted the enemy from their lines at Ticonderoga and Fort independence, advancing as far as Castle town. Waiting for them was the heavily fortified Northern Department of the Continental Army, commanded by General Horatio Gates.
The opposing armies came face to face on September 19, on the abandoned farm of Loyalist John Freeman, near Saratoga. Known as the Battle of Freeman’s Farm or the First Battle of Saratoga, the fierce fighting lasted for several hours. Neither side gained significant ground until Burgoyne ordered a column of Hessian troops to reinforce the British line, thus forcing the Continental army to fall back. This proved somewhat of a Pyrrhic victory as the Americans suffered under half the casualties of the British.
Following this initial success, Burgoyne decided to halt his advance and wait for reinforcements from New York City. This proved to be a mistake as no reinforcements were forthcoming, whilst the Continental army was reinforced to over 13,000 troops.
By October 7th, with supplies running low and no reinforcements, Burgoyne sent out a reconnaissance force to probe the American’s left flank, in the wooded area of Bemis Heights, south of Saratoga. The Americans got wind of this manoeuver, were prepared and forced the British to withdraw. This battle became known as the Battle of Bemis Heights or the Second Battle of Saratoga. In this day’s action the following casualties occurred amongst the officers of the 29th Foot: Lieutenants Battersby, Dowling and Williams were wounded and Ensigns Johnson and York were taken prisoner.

Engraving of the Burial of General Fraser at Saratoga. Behind the body stands Major Lord Petersham of the 29th Foot


Burgoyne and what remained of his army retreated northwards, but bad weather and cold temperatures hampered them. Within two days, they found themselves surrounded by the whole Continental Army and with short rations for only 3 days remaining. Burgoyne surrendered his army to General Gates on October 17.
The 29th Regiment of Foot had a significant presence at the Battle of Saratoga, with the Light company being led by Major Lord Balcarres and the Grenadiers by Major Acland. Eventually the soldiers of the 29th, along with the other troops who surrendered with Burgoyne, were allowed to return to England, in accordance with the Convention of Saratoga, on condition that they would not serve again in North America during the war.