Why is the Battle of Saratoga considered a turning point in the American Revolution?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

The Battle of Saratoga, actually a series of military conflicts between September 1777 and October 1777 that took place near Albany in Saratoga County, New York, was a turning point in the Revolutionary War because it ultimately convinced the French of America's strength. The two important battles were the Battle of Freeman's Farm and the Battle of Bemis Heights. These conflicts would result in the French aligning themselves with the colonies and providing aid that included French generals, ships and troops. Later, France would declare war on England.

General John Burgoyne had a plan to divide the colonies and separate New England from the southern colonies. The General was to rendezvous with General Howe and Lord Cornwallis. However, the plan failed when George Washington prevented Howe from joining forces with Burgoyne. Even though the Americans lost the first Battle of Freeman's Farm on September 19, 1777 due to the aid of the Germans to the British, they rallied and won the Battle of Bemis Heights which resulted in Burgoyne's surrender and disgrace ten days later.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

The Battle of Saratoga (September-October, 1777) was actually a series of battles that culminated with the surrender of the British force led by General John Burgoyne. Saratoga did indeed prove to be the turning point of the American Revolution. In addition to being the most significant American victory up to that point of the war, eliminating a strong British force in the northern theatre, Saratoga had a greater effect: Both France and Spain sided with the Americans as allies, and the French contribution proved to be an essential element of the colonies' eventual victory over Great Britain.

After first defeating General Horatio Gates' American army at the Battle of Freeman's Farm on September 19, 1777, Burgoyne was defeated at the Battle of Bemis Heights on October 7. Burgoyne was forced to retreat and his army was surrounded by superior American forces at Saratoga on October 17. Following the British surrender, France's King Louis XVI formally joined into an alliance with the Americans, forcing the British to divert troops and resources to other theatres of the war--particularly Europe and the West Indies.

The battle would ruin Burgoyne's military career and make a legitimate hero of one American general--the fearless Daniel Morgan--and temporary heroes of two generals who would later be disgraced: Gates, who would be given command of the Southern army, only to lead it to disastrous defeat at the Battle of Camden; and Benedict Arnold, who would soon become America's most famous turncoat when he later went over to the British side.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
Soaring plane image

We’ll help your grades soar

Start your 48-hour free trial and unlock all the summaries, Q&A, and analyses you need to get better grades now.

  • 30,000+ book summaries
  • 20% study tools discount
  • Ad-free content
  • PDF downloads
  • 300,000+ answers
  • 5-star customer support
Start your 48-Hour Free Trial