The Battle of Saratoga - A First-Hand Account

By Henry Jolly This is a first hand account of the battle of Saratoga, from a document written by Henry Jolly, a member of Colonel Daniel Morgan’s rifle regiment. I think it was about the first of August that the rifle regiment left the grand army Germantown common and went on the Northern campaign. We marched by way of Trenton, Princeton, Somerset and to Kingsbury on the river, thence on board to shallops to Albany We landed immediately and formed in the street and marched up into the Mohawk river, a little above the falls, where we encamped a few days. Then we crossed the river and joined the main army, commanded by General Gates and flanked the said army at Stillwater. There the army fortified and waited the approach of the enemy, which happened on the 19th of September and after a hard-fought battle of nearly five hours, the darkness of the night put an end to the engagement and the two armies remained stationary, until the 7th of October, when the British came out and offered battle. At the discharge of their first cannon, up went the bloody flag in our camp. I think 50 or 60 feet high (the only time that I have ever seen the bloody flag hoisted.) We then marched out. Colonel Morgan was ordered to an elevated piece of ground covered with timber. General Arnold moved on with his brave Yankees and attacked the British Grenadiers and drove them from their cannon. Colonel Morgan and his riflemen descended like a torrent upon the right wing of the British army and though I believe I have been at least 15 times engaged with the enemy, I have never seen so great a carnage, in so short a time, by the same number of men engaged. The poor Germans suffered indeed. When the Germans gave way, we charged the right wing of the British Grenadiers, who also fled, leaving their Major Acland wounded, who fell into our hands as a prisoner. We pursued them to their breastwork and after a few minutes heavy firing from their cannon, we entered their breastwork. I was within a few paces of General Arnold when he fell, his leg broken and his horse killed. It has ever been my opinion that if the darkness of night had not put an end to the engagement, the British Army would have been compelled to surrender at mercy. But they stole a night march a few days after and retreated to Saratoga, fortified and defended themselves, as well as they could until the 17th of October, when they surrendered the whole army, prisoners of war.

Our thanks to Ralph Bischak, who supplied this account by his ancestor Henry Jolly.