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Victory of the Battle of Saratoga - one of the most important battles in world history!
In June of 1777, British General "Gentleman Johnny" Burgoyne was marching from Quebec, Canada toward Albany, New York, with an army of 7,000 British and Hessian troops.
British General William Howe was supposed to be marching north, up the Hudson River Valley, from New York City to Albany in a "divide and conquer" entrapment plan.
Instead, without telling Burgoyne, General Howe abandoned the plan and left to capture Philadelphia - the capital of the new United States.

This was in accordance with European warfare, that when an enemy's capital was captured, the war would immediately end.
British General Burgoyne first recaptured Fort Ticonderoga, and in August of 1777, sent 500 Hessian troops to capture an American supply depot in Bennington, Vermont.
To his surprise, American General John Stark surrounded and captured them.
American General Philip Schuyler's army of 1,000 men gathered along the Mohawk River and blocked Burgoyne's route to Albany.
British General Barry Saint Leger was sent to scatter them.
Saint Leger set an ambush for the Americans coming to reinforce Fort Stanwix, but met bloody resistance at the Battle of Oriskany.
Saint Leger would have won had it not been for the American's mass courage, aided by a sudden torrential rain that soaked the priming of the muskets.
As General Burgoyne continued down the Hudson River Valley, individuals living in frontier New York settlements who were loyal to Britain joined his forces.

One such loyalist, living near Saratoga, was David Jones, who recently became engaged to his fiancée Jane McCrea, .
Burgoyne made a treaty with the Mohawk Tribe to terrorize American settlements.
Indians would return to camp from their nightly raids, yelling and proudly displaying the scalps of their victims.
One night, to his dismay, loyalist David Jones recognized one of the scalps of long, beautiful hair. It was that of his fiancée Jane McCrea.
Shockingly, the Indians had shot and scalped her.
An outrage erupted in the British camp, resulting in Burgoyne having to meet with the Indians and tell them to show restraint.

The Indians became offended and left Burgoyne stranded deep in the frontier forest.

The British were now at a great disadvantage, as the Indians had been their eyes and ears, giving reconnaissance of the Americans' positions.
Jane McCrea's death, later immortalized in J ames Fenimore Cooper's novel The Last of the Mohicans, rallied Americans and caused ranks to increase to 15,000.
British attempts to send reinforcements were thwarted, as Yale President Ezra Stiles explained, May 8, 1783:

"To whom but the Ruler of the Winds shall we ascribe it, that the B ritish reinforcement, in the summer of 1777, was delayed on the ocean three months by contrary winds, until it was too late for the conflagrating General Clinton to raise the siege of Saratoga."
At the Battle of Saratoga, October 7, 1777, General Benedict Arnold led a valiant charge on the British flank, resulting in him being considered the hero of the battle.
Shortly thereafter, OCTOBER 17, 1777, British General Johnny Burgoyne surrendered to American General Horatio Gates, and an estimated 6,000 British troops were captured.

This was the first time in history that an entire British army was captured at one time.
When news of Burgoyne's surrender reached King Louis XVI, he decided to have France enter the Revolutionary War of the side of the Americans.
This effectively caused the American Revolution to become a global war, stretching Britain's resources around the world, including the West Indies and Europe.
Holland and Spain soon aided the American cause with their support.
Spanish Governor of Louisiana, Bernardo de Galvez , drove the British out of the West Florida and the Gulf of Mexico, while letting the Americans have access to the Mississippi River.
The citizens of Cuba, most notably the ladies of Havana, donated their own jewelry and sent it to help General Washington defeat the British at Yorktown.

French Admiral de Grasse wrote to Rochambeau, July 28, 1781:

''The Saint-Domingue Colony has no money, but I will send a frigate to Havana in quest of it."

Historian Stephen Bonsal wrote in When the French Were Here (Doubleday, Doran & Co.,1945:

''The million that was supplied . . . by the ladies of Havana, may, with truth, be regarded as the 'bottom dollars' upon which the edifice of American independence was erected."
Spanish Captain Jorge Farragut helped the American navy in South Carolina. His son, David Farragut became the first U.S. Navy Commodore.
The surrender of Burgoyne at Saratoga is not only considered a major turning poin t in the Revolutionary War, but one of the most important battles in world history.
Artist John Trumbull's painting of the Surrender of General Burgoyne is in the U.S. Capitol Rotunda.
General George Washington wrote to his brother John Augustine the day after the Saratoga victory:

"I most devoutly congratulate my country, and every well-wisher to the cause, on this signal stroke of Providence."
When Roger Sherman of Connecticut, who signed the Declaration of Independence, heard of the victory of Saratoga, he exclaimed:

"This is the Lord's doing, and marvelous in our eyes!"
On November 1, 1777, the Continental Congress proclaimed the First National Day of Thanksgiving after independence had been declared:

"That with one heart and one voice the good people may express the grateful feeling of their hearts ...

join the penitent confession of their manifold sins ... that it may please God, through the merits of Jesus Christ, mercifully to forgive and blot them out of remembrance ...

and ... under the providence of Almighty God ... secure for these United States the greatest of all human blessings, independence and peace."
Upon hearing of this, General George Washington ordered the holiday to be observed by the Continental Army:

"Being the day set apart by the Honorable Congress for public Thanksgiving and Praise; and duty calling us devoutly to express our grateful acknowledgements to God for the manifold blessings he has granted us,

the General directs that the army remain in its present quarters, and that the Chaplains perform divine service with their several Corps and brigades.

And earnestly exhorts, all officers and soldiers, whose absence is not indispensably necessary, to attend with reverence the solemnities of the day."
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