This day in history, September 19, 1777, American soldiers win the first Battle of Saratoga, also known as the Battle of Freedom Farm during the American Revolutionary War.
The battle began when British General John Burgoyne moved some of his troops in an attempt to flank the entrenched American position on Bemis Heights. Benedict Arnold, anticipating the maneuver, placed significant forces in his way.
While Burgoyne did gain control of Freeman’s Farm, it came at the cost of significant casualties. Skirmishing continued in the days following the battle, while Burgoyne waited in the hope that reinforcements would arrive from New York City. Militia forces continued to arrive, increasing the size of the American army.
Disputes within the American camp led General Horatio Gates to strip Arnold of his command.
Burgoyne was later fully defeated and his troops were forced to surrender on October 17. Historian Edmund Morgan called the surrender, “a great turning point of the war, because it won for Americans the foreign assistance which was the last element needed for victory.”