In the late summer and fall of 1777, after two years of indecisive fighting on both sides, the outcome of the American War of Independence hung in the balance. Having successfully expelled the Americans from Canada in 1776, the British were determined to end the rebellion the following year and devised what they believed a war-winning strategy, sending General John Burgoyne south to rout the Americans and take Albany. When British forces captured Fort Ticonderoga with unexpected ease in July of 1777, it looked as if it was a matter of time before they would break the rebellion in the North. Less than three and a half months later, however, a combination of the Continental Army and Militia forces, commanded by Major General Horatio Gates and inspired by the heroics of Benedict Arnold, forced Burgoyne to surrender his entire army. The American victory stunned the world and changed the course of the war.
Kevin J. Weddle offers the most authoritative history of the Battle of Saratoga to date, explaining with verve and clarity why events unfolded the way they did. In the end, British plans were undone by a combination of distance, geography, logistics, and an underestimation of American leadership and fighting ability. Taking Ticonderoga had misled Burgoyne and his army into thinking victory was assured. Saratoga, which began as a British foraging expedition, turned into a rout. The outcome forced the British to rethink their strategy, inflamed public opinion in England against the war, boosted Patriot morale, and, perhaps most critical of all, led directly to the Franco-American alliance. Weddle unravels the web of contingencies and the play of personalities that ultimately led to what one American general called "the Compleat Victory." Hardcover, 544 pages.