The best books about the 1777 Saratoga campaign (American Revolution)

Dean Snow Author Of 1777: Tipping Point at Saratoga
By Dean Snow

The Books I Picked & Why

1776

By David McCullough

1776

Why this book?

This beautiful book sets the scene for Saratoga by recounting the conflict between Britain and its American colonies. It broke out in 1775 and led to a wider war, the American Declaration of Independence, Washington’s appointment as commander-in-chief, and the birth of the Continental Army in 1776. Prior to the establishment of a regular army, the rebellion was prosecuted by ad hoc gatherings of state militia regiments. Washington recruited the most effective of these into his new standing army, and authorized the creation of several new regiments from scratch by trusted subordinate officers. The militias have persisted to the present as National Guard units. However, in 1776 the coordinated use of temporary militias and more permanent Continentals was a tricky task.


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The First American Army: The Untold Story of George Washington and the Men Behind America's First Fight for Freedom

By Bruce Chadwick

The First American Army: The Untold Story of George Washington and the Men Behind America's First Fight for Freedom

Why this book?

The new national Congress of the United States had to invent both a government and a military to defend it on the fly in 1776. Militias had been around for decades, encouraged and supported to varying degrees by colonial, later state, governments. Before and after the creation of a regular “Continental” army, militia units were chartered by the thirteen states. The soon-to-be self-declared fourteenth state of Vermont also had militia regiments, and these also played important roles at Saratoga.

Some members of Congress thought that the creation of a regular army was dangerous and unnecessary, but Washington and his supporters prevailed, and the Continental Army was founded. Chadwick’s book is important not just for the story of the first American army, but for the individual stories of the soldiers who served in it.


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Saratoga: A Military History of the Decisive Campaign of the American Revolution

By John F. Luzader

Saratoga: A Military History of the Decisive Campaign of the American Revolution

Why this book?

John Luzader was an Army Ranger in World War II, and later park historian at the Saratoga Battlefield National Park. On the only occasion we met, John seemed discouraged about writing this book. Fortunately, I was not the only one who urged him to press on. The result is this fine military history of what was a decisive campaign of the American Revolution. It is likely that no one who has written about the campaign has known more about it.


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The British Are Coming: The War for America, Lexington to Princeton, 1775-1777

By Rick Atkinson

The British Are Coming: The War for America, Lexington to Princeton, 1775-1777

Why this book?

This is the first of a planned set of volumes on the American Revolution by Rick Atkinson. The author is, like David McCullough, a deserving Pulitzer Prize winner. His writing is superb, and this with future volumes promises to be a definitive masterpiece.


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Devil of a Whipping: The Battle of Cowpens

By Lawrence E. Babits

Devil of a Whipping: The Battle of Cowpens

Why this book?

This book should not be overlooked. Daniel Morgan was a Colonel in command of riflemen at Saratoga, and his performance there made his reputation. By 1781 Morgan was a general, commanding American forces at the Battle of Cowpens. Morgan led a mix of regular and militia units, which he cleverly deployed to make the best use of their variable skills and limitations. The result was a stunning victory that put the British on the road to Yorktown and defeat.


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