Victory at Saratoga
Published on: October 15, 2021
On October 17, 1777, Lt Gen John Burgoyne’s field army surrendered to Maj Gen Horatio Gates, Commander of the Northern Department. This was America's first significant victory against the British during the Revolutionary War, owing mainly to the total force effort of Continental soldiers and colonial militias working together. Today the battles at Saratoga are remembered as one of sixteen Revolutionary War streamers attached to the flag of the U.S. Army.
The campaign streamers attached to the Army Flagstaff denote campaigns fought by the Army throughout our nation’s history. Each streamer is embroidered with the designation of a campaign and the year(s) in which it occurred. The colors derive from the campaign ribbon authorized for service in that particular war.
The concept of campaign streamers came to prominence in the Civil War when Army organizations embroidered the names of battles on their organizational colors. This was discontinued in 1890, when units were authorized to place silver bands, engraved with the names of battles, around the staffs of their organizational colors. When AEF units in World War I were unable to obtain silver bands, General Pershing authorized the use of small ribbons bearing the names of the World War I operations. In 1921 all color-bearing Army organizations were authorized to use the large campaign streamers currently displayed.
"The Army Flag and Its Streamers" was originally prepared in August 1964 by the Office of the Chief of Military History, in cooperation with the Office of the Chief of Information, and the U.S. Army Exhibit Unit, to provide general summaries of each of the campaigns displayed on the Army flag. It was subsequently updated by the Center of Military History to add the campaigns from Vietnam. This study covered named campaigns only and did not include the campaigns that were sometimes awarded to individual units for war service in engagements outside the limitations of the named campaigns (i.e., Virginia 1863). It only addressed those campaigns authorized for display on the Army flag.