30. Victory Woods: A Nobel End

Burgoyne and his troops were hopelessly surrounded. They prepared for what might be their final stand.

With the British army in retreat, the lines became reversed. The advanced guard, previously the charge of the now-deceased General Fraser, now took up the rear, while Baron Riedesel and his German troops took the advance, but their route was blocked. They were hopelessly surrounded.

Burgoyne began to construct defenses around Schuylerville.

The Marshall House became the field hospital and the Baroness Riedesel took residence there. She hid in the basement with her three children as the house withstood a barrage of artillery attacks from the Rebel Captain Furnvial, who occupied the heights on the opposite side of the Hudson River. The Germans made camp behind the Marshall House in what is now the fields of Schuylerville Central School.

The other positions were under fire too. There were regular skirmishes between Rebel Daniel Morgan, who took up his position near the present-day hamlet of Grangerville to the west, and the British troops that erected breastworks along what is now Park Avenue (Route 29). What remained of Fraser’s Corps took up the position near what is now Victory Woods, where they withstood attacks from General Horatio Gates to the south.

Things were not looking good for Burgoyne and his allies. It was a cold October, the area was marshy, the ground was wet, and their supplies were dwindling. Lieutenant William Digby wrote, “our cattle began to die fast and the stench was very prejudicial in so small a space. We now began to perceive their design by keeping such a distance, which was to starve us out.”

Despite all these challenges, Burgoyne’s troops were ready to put up a fight. Lieutenant William Digby wrote, “…all thoughts of a retreat were then given over, and a determination [made] to fall nobly, together, rather than disgrace the name of British troops.

Travel Tools

This 22-acre parcel of land, located in the village of Victory (about 8.5 miles north of the Battlefield), marks the final encampment site for the British Army under General John Burgoyne prior to their October 17, 1777, surrender to American forces under General Horatio Gates.

Two options are available for visiting Victory Woods.

  • Park at Saratoga Monument and follow the foot path through the cemetery to the Victory Woods trail head;
  • Drive to the end of Monument Drive (just downhill/east of Saratoga Monument) and park in the cul-de-sac there.

An accessible boardwalk and pathway runs about ½ mile through Victory Woods. The path also has interpretive signs that help tell the story of the last stand for Burgoyne’s surrounded army.

 

Learn More

The Saratoga Monument (video)

First-Hand Accounts

Lieutenant Digby describes the wretched situation:

 – Lieutenant William Digby, October 11, 1777

Baroness Riedesel makes sure the troops get fed: “

– Memoir of Baroness Riedesel

 

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