American Colonel Peter Gansevoort and Lieutenant Colonel Marinus Willet, both of New York, had worked tirelessly repairing Fort Stanwix in anticipation of a British/German attack. The fort which was located on the upper Mohawk River in New York, was manned by 750 men who were combat ready. The British were led by Lieutenant Colonel Barry St. Leger. St. Leger led The King's 8th Regiment, a force of 1,000 troops, and they were supported by 1,000 Indians under Mohawk Chief Joseph Brant. The American fort stopped the first wave of attacks. The fort was supported by a militia of 800 men from Tyron County, who were led by American Brigadier General Nicholas Herkimer. On August 6, 1777, Herkimer and his men were ambushed a few miles from the fort. Herkimer and the Tyron County Militia was forced to retreat down the Mohawk River. The skirmish would become known as the Battle of Oriskany. The Americans were saved when Benedict Arnold arrived with 1,000 reinforcements.
Before long, the British were running low on supplies. Major General Burgoyne decided to raid the farms and stores in the Hampton Grants and Vermont for food, horses, guns, and provisions. The assault on the American settlers was to be led by Lieutenant Colonel Frederick Baum. The British/Germans had high hopes as Baum and his men left. Soon afterward, Burgoyne received reports that Baum and his men had picked up some cows and horses. Then just a short time later, Burgoyne received word that Baum was in trouble and needed reinforcements. Burgoyne hastily sent Francis Breymann and his command to save Baum and his men, but it was too late. All but 9 of them were dead, and Breymann and his troops would soon find themselves in a battle for their lives against the New Hampshire militia which was led by Brigadier General John Stark. After two battles the Germans would lose over 800 men in what became known as the Battle of Bennington.
Again, Burgoyne regrouped and continued his march toward Albany, New York. However, they were still only averaging a mile or less a day because of everything that they were hauling. Also, they were now traveling blind because there was nothing tall enough to give them a commanding view. Finally, the British/German forces came upon the edge of a wheat field that was owned by a family named Freeman. It was around 1 o'clock when Burgoyne and his party broke into the wheat field and headed towards the south end of the field. In the middle of the field they were greeted with the sound of turkey-gobbling which was followed by a barrage of gunfire. The Americans were led by Daniel Morgan's Rifle Corps, and they immediately killed every British officer. Then in minutes the woods filled with more men wearing fur caps and toting long rifles. Now there were bullets flying in all directions. For three hours the two sides exchanged gunfire until the British losses were staggering. In all, the British lost more than 600 men. However, Burgoyne would not quit. Once more, on October 7, 1777, he returned to the edge of Freeman's clearing with over 1,500 of his men in what would be called the Second Battle of Freeman's Farm. Again, they were no match for the American snipers who were strategically placed in the trees. On October 17, at Saratoga, New York, Burgoyne and 5,000 British and German soldiers laid down their arms and surrendered to General Horatio Gates.
Battle of Bennington
British and German Soldiers surrender to General Horatio Gates